The time between Christmas and New Year’s day is a great time to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Here in the Southeast, the winters are relatively mild, and though it can be pretty nippy it’s often a very nice time to be out, and with the leaves off the trees, the views in the mountains can be quite spectacular.
I took my scout troop on a backpacking trip in the Shenandoah National Park, hiking the 28 miles from Thornton Gap to US522 (the northern section) from 12/28/2007 through 12/31/2007. There were three adults with eight scouts — the leaders were Carlton (1st pic in the slideshow), me (2nd pic in the slideshow) and Dave. Dave’s two boys were there, as well as Carton’s son and my youngest son.
We left Orange County NC around 8:15AM on the 28th and drove to Thornton Gap, where US211 crosses the Skyline drive. Dave took the scouts down the trail about 3.5 miles to the first campsite (Beahm’s Gap) while Carlton and I shuttled cars to have one at each end of the hike. It was cool & overcast, but not raining. The scouts got to the campsite around 3PM, and Carlton and I arrived about 4:30PM. It was a good thing I’d stopped at REI to pick up some tarps, since it started raining about 4:45…we cooked and sat around under the tarps. The guys seemed to have a great time hanging the food up a tree in the “bear bag”, given the laughter, despite the rain.
Dawn Saturday broke to overcast skies, but with the promise of clearing. It was a very nice day, no rain, and temps pushing into the low 50’s. Met some PATC trail workers who told us of a forecast for freezing precipitation on Sunday, so we started gearing up. Hiked to Gravel Springs shelter for the night, about 11 miles. That “vitamin I” (ibuprofen) is a good thing ;-). Made camp about 3:30PM. A nice night, mild, no rain, and plenty of room in the shelter.
Sunday started cool and cloudy, with the promise of rain. It was a great day for hiking, with temps in the upper 30’s and just a few spits of rain, never enough for raingear. Made the 10 miles to Tom Floyd wayside by 3PM. This was a small shelter, and we crammed our group in like sardines ;-). The freezing precipitation never materialized at our lower elevation, and we just had rain on the roof.
On Monday morning (New Year’s Eve), Carlton and I got out early, about 7:15AM, to go to US522 and shuttle the cars. There was a little bit of ice on the road, but the VA DOT had been out and salted and sanded, so things were fine.
We got the cars back to 522 by 10:15, and we loaded up and headed for home, not before eating out the buffet at Golden Corral in Charlottesville.
A great time was had by all!