Monday, March 24, 2014

AT Project in VA: Closing the (Rockfish) Gap

Appalachian Trail Project in VA - Shenandoah National Park – 10/29/13 – Beagle Gap to Rockfish Gap – 5.3 Miles

My ambitious hiking agenda in Shenandoah NP had not worked out, but that’s the hiking life (and the rest of life, too, really).  Make plans but be ready to change.   Over the years I’ve had many mastermind schemes scuttled by rain, snow, extreme cold, high water creeks, closed roads, illness, dead batteries, bailed-out hiking partners.  Some changes happen the day before, some changes happen at the trailhead.  Plans B, C and D should be in your back pocket.  Just make sure someone at home knows about them, too. 

So today we faced the long drive home (5+hours) and there was just a little morning time to enjoy.  By hiking 5.3 miles southbound on the AT from Beagle Gap to Rockfish Gap I completed a stretch of 181 contiguous miles, a big note of satisfaction for the effort.  While I made my short stroll, Jim enjoyed one last bike ride from Rockfish Gap southbound on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

Through a fence style and into a meadow to climb up Bear Den Mountain

Police communication towers at the summit

Someone with a sense of humor installed some comfy tractor seats for a rest stop here at a west-facing view.  Jim remembered seeing these when he and our son completed a 50-miler hike with their Boy Scout troop in Shenandoah many moons ago. 

The leaf change has largely passed on and my attention turned to exploding seed pods in the open meadows. 


Any clues?

I am always interested in evidence of times gone by, old road beds that now lead nowhere, fence posts and stacked stone indicating where humans attempted to corral the wilderness

Fence post with barbed wire

An old gate

And before I knew it, I was at Rockfish Gap, where I staggered off the trail last May after following Cathy for 40 miles over some of the biggest ups and downs on the AT.  As I was changing out of my boots, Jim appeared, looking happy as he always does when he’s on his bike.  The two of us are very fortunate to have such fulfilling hobbies that we can dovetail to spend time together.  It takes planning, flexibility, perseverance, and the desire to cooperate…kind of like marriage, huh?

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.”  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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