Free Spiritís ( Al's )

Appalachian Trail Journal

VA,WV & Maryland- Part 3

Dates ........ Saturday April 15, 2000
Miles ........ 12.6 miles
From ........ VA- Petites Gap (along the Blue Ridge Parkway)
To ............. John's Hollow Shelter
Weather ... Rain and heavy fog and mist. WET. 50 degrees.

Brett ("Firefly") and Al ("Free Spirit" ) starting out in full rain gear at Petites gap, VA.

Saturday April 15, 2000

James River Gorge & Wilderness area, High Cock Knob

Petites Gap is 2369 feet high. Today it was in the clouds. We donned our rain gear, packs and pack covers and headed up the trail. We started with a 704 foot climb of High Cock Knob (their name, not mine!) where we got no view. Soon we would come to think of a 700 foot climb as a bump instead of a challenge. On the descent we met two women, one, Hug-A-Bear from SC and the other from South Africa. They were not happy when we shared our recent weather forecast with them (3 more days of rain). We reached Mats Creek Shelter, a beautifully located log shelter right next to a stream and swimming hole. We had lunch, talked with other hikers Take-a-Break and Trudge and, though very tired, cold and wet, decided to push on to the next shelter, 4.9 miles north.

Descending the ridge to the James river, we experienced a unique weather phenomenon. As we walked the ridge we could distinctly feel warm moist air on our left and cool moist air on our right. It was hazy on our left and foggy on our right. The ridge had a sharp incline to either side. We hiked down to the valley and the hydroelectric plant, crossing the railroad tracks and river on a highway bridge just below the dam. Following a brief roadwalk, we entered the woods and followed Cashaw Creek uphill, then climbed a steep hill, crossed Rocky Row Run where we met a trail maintainer. A tree root reached out, grabbed my ankle and down I went. Torn pants and ripped flesh reminded me to be more careful.

We were starting our 1,630 foot climb to Fullers Rocks, to be interrupted by our stay at John's Hollow Shelter, and continued tomorrow.

At 4:35 PM we filtered water from the creek, cooked supper, washed, and snuggled up in our warm, dry sleeping bags. It was dark by 8 and we were asleep before 9 PM.

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Hiking Partners Wanted

Spring/Fall hikes - 15 miles/day - Contact Al. aljohn@jmclum.com.
Last Updated 7/10/2000