I posted a week ago about hiking Old Rag Mountain with Mike and Lou. Mike is a friend from schooldays who I had not seen in 37 years. The next day, Lou – Mike’s partner – decided to take a horseback ride out of Skyland Resort, but before doing so she drove Mike and I to a point on the Appalachian Trail near Big Meadows. From there we hiked back to the resort, leaving the A.T. for a mile or two to take in Hawksbill Summit on a side trail. Lou rejoined us for an evening walk up Stony Man Mountain.
All of our route was within a mile of Skyline Drive. I had assumed the tourist road would impinge on the trail. It didn’t. Maybe this was because Mike and I were mostly distracted by nostalgia, or because it was mid-week in April. I have certainly read about grousing from thru-hikers who hit this section of A.T. in early summer.
DATE: Wednesday, April 22nd.
START: A.T. just south of Big Meadows.
FINISH: Stony Man Mountain, immediately north of Skyland Resort.
ROUTE: Straight up the A.T. (south to north), with “longcut” over Hawksbill Summit.
DISTANCE: 9-10 miles to Skyland Resort, plus 1.6-mile loop of Stony Man.
TIME: 5 hours to Skyland Resort, 1 hour on Stony Man.
TERRAIN: Up and down between 2,900 feet and 4,050 feet (Hawksbill Summit).
MAP: Appalachian Trail map for SNP Central District.
WEATHER: Sunny, then sunny with showers. Very breezy on summits.
WILDLIFE: I am sure there were deer.
BREAKFAST: Muesli and coffee at Big Meadows Campground before meeting Mike and Lou at the resort.
LUNCH: Hunkering in the shelter beneath Hawksbill.
UPS: Reveling in schooldays reminiscence with Mike.
DOWNS: Can’t think of any.
KIT: Hike was a case in point for layers; mostly mild but numbingly cold when caught by the strong wind. I did not carry gloves, but would have welcomed them on Hawksbill.
COMPANY: Mike, Lou, plus a few other hikers.