With numerous peaks rising above 4000’, the Central Virginia Blue Ridge mountain range just south of Charlottesville is typically much higher in elevation than the section of the Blue Ridge that runs through Shenandoah National Park (SNP). And the footpaths south of SNP are significantly less crowded, are more remote, and provide one with a greater sense of being in a wilderness environment.
For this weekend point-to-point backpacking trip, our journey will take us along a beautiful 13-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail, where we will be trekking through two US Congress designated “wilderness areas”, experience some breath-taking panoramic scenery from rocky-outcroppings, be witness to a constant kaleidoscope of late-spring colors, and camp in a healthy, diversified hardwood forest alongside a picturesque mountain stream.
This trip reminded me of why I usually hike and camp in the fall/winter/spring. It was HOT. The bugs were not too bad while hiking, but they did bite some while camping. But the rewards were great - wild flowers, butterflies, birds. The campsite was nice, right next to an AT shelter and creek, lots of wildlife (frogs, toads, snakes, turtles, and more birds). The privy was brand new, still smelled like pine.
The first day of hiking was very long, even for me and Tom - 11 miles. Our packs were much heavier than what we carried on the Milford Track in NZ. The second day of hiking was very short and flat, with grand views of the James River Face, a water gap in the Shenandoah Mountains.
We followed up our trip with a buffet lunch at Peaks of Otter. The food was good, but everything tastes good after along weekend of backpacking.