Thursday, October 18, 2012

Views galore

view west from The Pinnacles
Wednesday, October 10, 2012:

Today I hiked the north part of the Central section of Shenandoah Park - a 9 mile piece of trail that features several very popular day hiking venues with excellent views, mostly all toward the west, overlooking the Shenandoah Valley.  The best of these, from The Pinnacles, I've included above.  The other most prominent viewpoints came from Little Stonyman and Mary's Rock - both stunning high rock outcrops that are not for people with acrophobia.   Weather was cool and breezy, but up to near 60F by afternoon - perfect!  I'm posting my personal journal entry below for more details.


Morning view of Shenandoah Valley from Little Stonyman
I was on the trail at 7:30 and made the one mile climb to little Stonyman, where the views were great this morning. The hike was so quick and easy it was hard to believe it was the same piece of trail that had seemed so long and grueling to me back in 2009.

I made a short leg north and back, turning around at the Corbin Cabin parking area, and this piece had steeper sloped trail (short ups and downs of a couple hundred feet) than the trail up to Little Stonyman!

I then moved my vehicle to the Jewell Hollow Overlook and hiked back to Corbin Cabin side trail – a fairly easy section of walking that included a walk through the Pinnacles Picnic Ground. There the AT goes right past a water fountain with excellent water, picnic tables, and two restrooms. And there is a nice welcoming sign there, inviting casual walkers to stroll a short piece of this famous trail. It’s probably my favorite such sign of many along the AT because of the way its worded and because of the pretty setting with the trail paved and with restrooms and water fountain.

Marys Rock as seen from The Pinnacles
Back to Jewell Hollow I started a much longer leg north, climbing over The Pinnacles with excellent views to the west, and then to Mary’s Rock. I took the short side trail to that summit and finally got the views that I missed when Jim, Rik, Ryan and I hiked here back around 2007 on a horribly cold and rainy foggy May day when the forecast was for the drizzle to end but instead it poured down rain all day with temperatures in the 30’s and made us all nearly hypothermic.  I can't remember ever being colder.

I made the return hike from Mary’s Rock to Jewell Hollow and then moved the old two-ton steel tent to the Panorama parking area at Thornton Gap and did the long climb back up to Mary’s Rock from the north. Although the climb was 1200 feet, this wasn’t too tough because the grade was steady on the old CCC constructed trail, but the footing was rocky.

I got back to Thornton Gap at 4:45PM so had time to do a final piece of trail north to Pass Mountain Hut where I found five guys setting up to spend the night. Four of them were people I had passed multiple times through the day and even yesterday. So we had some nice conversation, though quick, as I signed the register and needed to head back. I got back to Panorama at 6:40, just a few minutes before sunset.


Here's the map of today's hike, with a link to more photos:

AT Day 253 - The Pinnacles, Marys Rock at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Virginia

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