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Outdoors, Photography, Virginia

AT Hike, Pearisburg to Blacksburg

This week I spent four days hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail near Blacksburg, VA. Here’s a short breakdown of the trip and some photography from along the way.

Day 1 – Pearisburg to Rice Field: Start near New River/Pearisburg, VA. Approximately 2.3 miles moderate climb to crest of Peters Mountain, then follow the ridge line 2.1 miles to Rice Field, with great views over West Virginia. Cold night, but the most beautiful place for a shelter. Day total: 4.4 miles, around 2’15” hiking time.

Day 2 – Peters Mountain to Baileys Gap: Excellent conditions in the morning, cool but sunny and a nice level trail along the ridge. I pass 6-7 other hikers, about as many as I will meet on any one day. After crossing the Alleghany Trail, the path heads downhill steeply to Pine Swamp Branch Shelter. It’s too early to stop, so I cross Stony Creek via a bridge and climb again, a steep uphill on very tired feet, to arrive at Baileys Gap Shelter. Day total: 16.4 miles, 7’15” hiking time.

Day 3 – Wind Rock & Kelley’s Knob: Tired feet and more difficult hiking this morning, across rocky trail and then a long downhill grade. I make a quick stop at Wind Rock, with some nice views over Stoney Creek Valley and Peters Mountain, but the sky is starting to get cloudy. Lunch at War Spur Shelter, then uphill again towards Kelley’s Knob. Clouds get darker, then turn to steady rain, so the panorama is all gray. I have a rain jacket but no pack cover so I use my tent’s rain fly to keep my pack as dry as possible. About an hour hiking downhill through the rain and I find the Laurel Creek Shelter. I get a fire started and am joined by two other hikers from Colorado. Day total: 14.6 miles, 6’50” hiking time.

Day 4 – Pandapas Pond to Blacksburg: An early start for me. The remaining 2.4 miles on the AT go quickly, leading to picturesque farmland along Route 42. I hitchhike with a nice gentleman named Dave down to 460 and to the Pandapas Pond entrance. From there, I take the familiar Horse Nettle and Gateway Trails across Brush Mountain and towards Blacksburg. It’s another 1.5 hours from the trailhead to home, with a quick stop at Wendy’s for a reward Frosty. Day total: 11.3 miles, 4’20” hiking time.

Trip total: 46.7 miles (approx.), 20’45” hiking time.

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