Birthday Hike 2008: Sinking Creek Mountain
Birthdays are a time to indulge yourself and do what makes you most happy. On my birthday, I choose to hike. At the time this post publishes, I’ll be in Fairy Stone State Park, Virginia on my 34th Birthday Hike. So it seemed to be an appropriate time to share pictures from my 33rd Birthday Hike.
I celebrated my thirty-third birthday with a round trip hike up Sinking Creek Mountain. I started at Craig’s Creek Road (VA-621) and hiked southbound on the AT for 3.7 miles. Once you are at the top, the next 1.5 miles offer a series of rock outcroppings… and views! You ascend 2000 feet in your journey, but it doesn’t feel like 2000 feet. In fact, it feels relatively easy.
I don’t know why, but Sinking Creek Mountain gets about…well, zero attention. Everyone hits Kelly’s Knob to the south or look northbound to Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee’s Knob and Tinker Cliffs. That’s a shame. I find Sinking Creek Mountain to be every bit as fulfilling as the other destinations.
As you climb the mountain, you do pass through a rocky section with lovely views of the surrounding mountains and once you are at the Continental Divide at the top, you are walking on ridgeline with opportunities to take in scenery in all directions. I had the added bonus of hiking when the leaves were long gone, so my views were amplified. I could glimpse ridges that would be obscured in the coming months.
I was hiking the day after St. Patrick’s Day. Even though our mountaineous area hadn’t fully embraced the notion of spring, nature was color coordinated for the holiday. Evergreens such as pines, rhododendrons and mountain laurels gave me a consistent dosage of green. Ferns, lichen and moss joined in that effort.
Other colors made it into the mix as well. I was particular struck by some bright yellow fungus I saw growing on the tree barks. It was so bright, it looked like someone had spray painted it.
The trees at the top of Sinking Creek Mountain are particularly subject to the elements. Just like the Red Oaks on Apple Orchard Mountain and the Icicles near Mann’s Bog, the effects of the environment are documented in the trees’ postures.
There were some other oddities as well. I loved how this tree’s burl forced a smaller tree to bend out of the way.
This branch, I thought looked like an inch worm.
I found Sinking Creek Mountain to be a beautiful hike as always. It was an excellent way to usher in my 33rd year.
|Appalachian Trail: Sinking Creek Mountain
Length: ~10 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain: 2000 Feet
Directions from Blacksburg, Virginia
1) Take 460 West
2) Turn right on Craig’s Creek Road (VA-621). The Pandapas Pond Turnoff will be on the left hand side of the road.
3) Craig’s Creek Road will turn to gravel, pass Caldwell Fields (worth a stop!) and then eventually turn back to pavement. Once it does, the AT crossing will be within a couple of miles. There will be a camping and parking area on the left side of the road.