Loudon Heights Trail to Blackburn up and back, AT; WV/VA

I assume some of you are hitting this blog to find the trailhead of the Loudon Heights Trail in Virginia and West Virginia. Heading south on 340 cross the bridge at Sandy Hook and pass the Exxon. When the road turns southward at the bend of the river about 1/4 mile past the Exxon look to your left, you will see a break in the rocks on the other side of the road. Park on 340 well off the pavement where it is legal. The trail is there, it just isn't obvious. Once you get on the trail you will see the trail signs. The trail will switchback up the mountain and you will get overlooks quickly where you get a good view of Harper's Ferry and the Potomac. It will be 2.5 miles before the Loudon Heights Trail will intersect with the AT.

I wanted to knock out 26 miles today so I didn't take the camera, I was late getting started so I needed to move. The AT annoys me, too many people, too many hiking amateurs, too many weirdos. I didn't feel like a long drive so I stayed near home. I saw one hunter with a rifle firing it right on the trail, you know who you were and I was not impressed. Perhaps you need to review the law. You're a lousy shot too, Bambi wasn't more than a few feet away. I would have been interested, though, on how you were going to haul that 130 pound buck off the trail when the nearest road was 3 miles away and down a steep trail. I would have paid to watch that. Of course, you feel that the law is optional so I would have assumed you would have figured a way to get your 4x4 on the trail. Good thing I bring a cell phone.

Also, to the two people who I met 1/2 mile south of Route 9 who were interested in visiting David Lesser Shelter. I told you the shelter was about 3 miles away, but I failed to mention it was all uphill on a snow-covered trail. Yes, I do understand the temp was in the high 40s at that time of 3 o'clock in the afternoon, but one of you was wearing shorts and the other flip-flops. Do flip-flops offer good traction on snow? Water is always something good to take along but maybe you two are quasi camels and don't need any. Either way, I am impressed with your hiking skills, it took me an additional 3 hours to hike my last 8 miles, I wonder how you did in the rapidly dropping temps at such a late hour? Although I did see the one thing you took with you was that Garmin GPS. When you are dying from dehydration and hypothermia luckily you'll know exactly where you are.

(Note to self: Next time drive further, drive far far away)

Southern Massanutten Backpack, Virginia

I could have spent New Years watching a spectacular fireworks display, hobnobbing with friends downtown and enjoying the local festivities, or I could choose to be on the mountain in the rain.

Many of the Appalachian mountains use the names that the indians bestowed upon them. Some are monikored with the names of the first english surveyors who were employed to map the topography for newly arrived settlers. These settlers were quickly able to explain the concept of property ownership to the indians, as in "we own it, you don't". But mountain naming took an twist in this area of the Southern Massanuttens: First Mountain, Second Mountain, Third Mountain and Fourth Mountain, all the mountains lined up in neat little ridges and aptly named just like a New York City street map.

The area Keith, Lisa, Terri, Kisses, Jada and I visited was mainly 2nd and 3rd Mountain. We hiked to Kaylor's Knob on 2nd Mountain on the first day. Keith showed us the old trail markers that were installed when the trails were built by the Civil Conservation Corps Keith valiantly tried to explain to our group what the numbers on the markers meant but whoever created the trail mile marking system had a creative mind-think that was not obvious to the rest of us.

Due to the rain we stayed at the Boones Run Shelter and we put together a New Year's buffet consisting of shrimp, several kinds of cheese and crackers, dips, beverages, cookies, olives and gourmet kibble.

The entertainment consisted of fireworks at midnight. Although it rained most of the night it was nice to be in a shelter.

On New Year's Day we hiked through Peterfish Gap where we had a spectacular view of the Shenandoah Mountains above cloud cover. Once Lisa and I got to the top of the ridge we found we were very warm. For those that insist that global warming doesn't exist take a look at this picture, for January 1st this just isn't right.