And The Hike That Was

Finally got the car issues straightened out and made the trip over to Thunder Ridge Overlook to hammer out a few quick miles on the AT. This hike featured a perfect morning with bright yellow leaves above and below us, and a temperate sixty degrees at the start. An ideal setting for my son-in-law to break in his new Merrells.

We headed out with light packs, planning on a quick five mile round tripper. The leaves on the trail made for a satisfying fall crunch as we trekked our way north. A mile in we passed a trio doing a SOBO section hike, and stopped for a quick chat. A short while later a solo young lady was coming down the trail towards us with a fully outfitted pack (she would be followed a moment later by her hiking partner, a young man similarly outfitted). Turns out they were SOBO thru-hikers, and after talking to them and getting some details of their hike, we cut them loose to continue on their way. I really dislike holding up thru-hikers with idle chatter, knowing that they’re mission minded with planned daily miles. We passed three other SOBO hikers a few minutes later but left those hardy souls alone to carry on.

I was struck by the stark contrast of this bare tree about 1.5 miles in and stopped to grab a quick shot:

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We marched on, traversing a series of short up-and-downs to the planned turnaround (we actually got to talking and went to 2.75 miles, so wound up with 5.5 total), stopped for a quick hydration break, then did a one-eighty and headed for home.

We passed a couple on our way back who were doing a section from Dragon’s Tooth to the James River Foot Bridge (about 85 miles). Turns out they were brother and sister, he in his early sixties, she close to seventy. They seemed to be having the time of their lives out on the trail. And that’s the point, isn’t it? I’m sure when I do my first multi-day section hike I’ll be thrilled to be out there too!

We pushed up the final hill to the Overlook, and I went for the cheesy hiker shot:

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I actually considered standing on the rim, but didn’t want to risk becoming part of a news story containing the phrase, “and fell several hundred feet to his death.”

It was good to be back out there. We’re planning a trip by month’s end down to Daleville to do a ten mile out-and-back to the Fullhardt Knob Shelter. In the meantime, I’m scouting out my next solo hike…

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