Posts filed under ‘Tinker Mountain’

Sagan’s Peak and Dyson’s Peak

I live about four and half hours away from my former home in Blacksburg, Virginia. Although I don’t get back to see “my mountains” as much as I would like, Ryan and I still managed to hike an Appalachian Trail staple during both pregnancies.

With my first son, Sagan, we hiked up to the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail, McAfee’s Knob, at 33 weeks. With my second son, Dyson, we hiked up to nearby Tinker Cliffs at 25 Weeks. That means we now have an Appalachian Trail landmark that will remind us of each son.

McAfee's Knob - Mountains and Motherhood (by Ryan Somma)
Vicky on McAfee’s Knob (33 Weeks Pregnant with Sagan)

Tinker Cliffs - 25 Week Belly at Top (By Ryan Somma)
Vicky on Tinker Cliffs (25 Weeks Pregnant with Dyson)

Now get this– from Sagan’s Peak (aka McAfee’s Knob), you can see Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs) and from Dyson’s Peak, you can see Sagan’s Peak! If you are on one boy’s peak, you can still think of the other. : )

McAfee's Knob - Vicky and Ryan
Ryan and Vicky and In Utero Sagan with Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs)

Tinker Cliffs - McAfee Knob, Vicky, Ryan
[A Poorly Lit] Ryan and Vicky and In Utero Dyson with Sagan’s Peak (McAfee’s Knob)

Here’s my favorite part– a day hike that hits both overlooks is only 13.1 miles long. One day, our family can go up the Andy Layne Trail to Dyson’s Peak (Tinker Cliffs) and then continue on to Sagan’s Peak (McAfee Knob). I’ve done that day hike before. I know first hand that it’s an amazing trip and will be even more amazing to share with the boys.

It’s a hike well-worth waiting a decade for. : )

August 14, 2013 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Tinker Cliffs

Two Saturdays ago, I got to hike with Tony Airaghi again.  This time we were joined by Tony’s cousin, Bruce and Bruce’s old college roommate, Dave.  We chose Tinker Cliffs via the Andy Layne Trail.  Our trip was about six miles.

When I left my house, I left Tony a voicemail message.

“If it is really only 45 minutes, I’ll be on time, ” I said, “But you know me…  I would bet on me being late.”

As I neared our rendez-vous point, Tony called to report he was just leaving his house.  He was quite a ways behind me.

“Knowing me, you should have known *I* would be late!” he joked.

I am slow at ascents and the Andy Layne Trail sports a number of doozies.  I wasn’t worried about Tony.  On my very first hike over 10 miles long, it was Tony who encouraged me to go on my own pace and reminded me “We aren’t here to kill ourselves, we’re here to have a good time.”  (To this day, whenever I pass a hiker who appears to be struggling on hills, I repeat what Tony said to me).

Anyway, Tony witnessing a slow Vicky did not bother me.  He’s done that for years.  It was the two guys I did not know, this Dave and this Bruce (Hey both Kids in the Hall names!) who concerned me.  I could just see all three men waiting for me at the top of a hill and one of them turn to Tony and say, “I thought you said this girl hiked all the time!”  Also remembering our recent War Spur hike, I didn’t want to give anyone reason to throw snowballs at me from switchbacks. 🙂

So I decided to get a head start.  My goal was to get past the two giant hills before the guys caught up.  I achieved my goal…and then some.  I made it past the giant hills, past the hollowed out tree, past the seven switchbacks, past Scorched Earth Gap and then to our final destination–the cliffs.  I waited at the cliffs for about an hour and still had no companions.  Luckily, I have all that self-portrait experience to rely on.

Me by me

Finally, I decided I should start my descent.  I left a quick voicemail on Tony’s cell phone, grabbed my pack and my dogs and suddenly Tony emerged out of the woods and our group was united.

This time, we did not get to see a jeep stuck in the mud, but I did get to see something pretty comparable.  As I approached that second giant hill, I passed two hikers.

“There’s a big hill coming up with a lot of mud on it,” one of the hikers told me, “You’re probably going to bite it– I did.”

The hiker’s clothes supported his story.  His entire backside was covered with mud.  And when I did inch my way up the “Mud Hill”, I could see distinct markings in the mud where the guy slipped and slid down the hill.

Everyone in our group managed to make it up without incident.  And a few hours later, we all managed to descend the hill cleanly as well.

Bruce and Tony celebrate making it down the mud hill

Near the top, the trees were still coated from a recent ice storm.  With the warm air and the afternoon sun, some of the ice was melting.  As a result, sections of the forest “rained” broken ice.  It made for some pretty scenery too.

Freshly broken ice on the ground

The sun shines through icy trees

We had a clear day and nice weather, so the visibility from the cliffs was perfect.  I would still take Tinker Cliffs over McAfee’s Knob any day.

Rocks and Ridges

The Cliffs

Evergreens in the Mix

More Links
Kevin Myatt’s Article on the Andy Layne Trail for the Roanoke Times
More pictures of my Tinker Cliff hike on Flickr

February 11, 2008 at 9:59 am 5 comments

Angel’s Rest & Evolution of the Appalachian Trail

For me, it is difficult to not feel a sense of history when I’m on the Appalachian Trail.  The trail, which winds through mountains that are over 300 million years old, was first completed in 1937.  In just in my little section in southwest Virginia, it takes you by rare virgin forests that have never been touched by loggers (the spruces found in the Mountain Lake Wilderness Area) and a tree that is over 300 years old (the great Keffer Oak).  You go by old farmlands which, although unattended, still survive (the cherry orchard south of Dismal Falls).  You see stunning views that we have Africa to thank for– sixty million years ago, the continent collided with Virginia and brought us the likes of McAfee Knob.  You pass by reminders of our nation’s wars ranging from the Revolutionary War (Tinker Mountain is supposedly named for deserters who hid there) to WWII (the Audie Murphy Memorial on Brush Mountain).  All this on a footpath that has been traveled upon for seventy-one years.

Old AT map listing the mileage as 2,007.  In 2005 the total mileage had grown to 2,174.9

Interestingly enough, the AT’s abundance of history is the very trait that lulls me into viewing it as a static being, as stationary as the sandstone formations that photograph oh so well.  I think of it as a constant.  Yet, all around me, I can see that isn’t the case.  Destroyed bridges are replaced.  New shelters emerge.  Or perhaps a new switchback blaze surfaces near Wind Rocks (what wise soul could have suggested that?).  I see hints of the trail being rerouted– a guide book note here, a covered blaze there.  And I’m well aware what was once the trail in the 1940’s is now part of the Blue Ridge Parkway (I suspect that is why that section boasts so few views– all the good parts were snatched away for the road!).  Even with all that evidence, the AT in my mind, seemed so concrete.

On Saturday, I got to see first hand how fluid the trail really is.  I took the dogs up to Angel’s Rest near Pearisburg.  It’s my favorite hike and I’ve done numerous times in the past six years.  I’ve seen that section through all four seasons and despite the changing temperatures and vegetation, the route has always been the same. 

Not anymore!  The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club has finished a relocation!  As a result, the early part of the ascent was all new trail to me.  And… if the beautiful, brand spanking new sign at the top is correct, the AT has now grown!  Perhaps I was hiking on the AT’s newest 0.2 miles.  🙂

Picture of the old AT and the new AT.  To prevent confusion, RATC members piled brush on the old trail. 

I did lament the loss of one or two small landmarks.  And now I have no idea if my ascent time of sixty-six minutes is any better or worse than my previous personal best of sixty minutes.  But all in all, it was a thrill to see the AT change before my eyes.  Afterall, it’s the trail’s ability to change, to reroute and evolve, that has allowed it to accumulate the deceptive history it has.  🙂

One very important item remained the same on Saturday and I expect it to remain the same for years to come– the views on Pearis Mountain are spectacular:

View of Wilburn Valley (on AT south of Angel’s Rest)

View of Pearisburg, Virginia from Angel’s Rest

Remaining Leaves and Wilburn Valley

More pictures of my Angel’s Rest Hike can be found on Flickr.

November 8, 2007 at 9:25 am 5 comments

Pearis Mountain in the Snow

For those of you who don’t know, I have a new boss! And apparently he knows me well. When he was telling me I could pick my own work hours, the example he used was, “So you can hike in the morning and work in the afternoons and evenings.” 🙂

Sounded nice, but I didn’t expect to take advantage of it so quickly. Well Tuesday night we finally got a snow down here in Blacksburg. Like my friend, Mandy said recently on her blog, “this may be THE snow of 2007!” So I called my new boss and he gave me permission to go (even though it meant missing a conference call).

This is what we do for love! The next morning, I woke up earlier than I do for work. I got dressed up in my layers, grabbed Jimmie and headed out in the X-Terra on snowy roads.

Morris Street in Pearisburg (I was not driving the vehicle during this shot).

Henry the beagle sat this one out. Although Henry is three years younger than Jimmie, he’s already threatening to retire from hiking. He has some back problems and he looked stiff after the Brush Mountain hike. Henry was assigned a very important duty though. He had to lay in bed, watch TV and keep Sean company.

Our destination was my favorite mountain — Pearis Mountain which is home to Angel’s Rest. In recent years, my longer outings with Mike E have made Tinker Mountain a worthy rival for the favorite mountain title. The two mountains are pretty neck and neck, but Pearis has been the incumbant for years, so I’ll give it the edge.

It was a beautiful, invigorating hike. Jimmie and I were the first to walk on that snow, so all you have was the trail and our footprints.

Bend in the Appalachian Trail on Pearis Mountain

Despite the snow I was making good time…for me (I’m notoriously slow at ascents). I could get snippets of the view to come between the trees and I knew it was going to be great. And I found myself counting chickens before they hatch. I was already planning on who I was going to send picture messages to from the top. Derek, Sean, Ann, Mike’s email (how do I have a friend without text messaging? Even my mother has it!), Larry, etc. A while after I passed the old power line tower, I hit a snag.

I slipped and fell. That’s not unusual– I have fallen before on hikes. In fact one time on the way to Dismal Falls I managed to fall flat on my face within ten feet of getting on the trail! So I got up and continued on. Before I knew it I slipped and fell again.

What in the world was going on? I wiped away the snow and discovered that underneath was a continuous sheet of thick ice. It was nothing like the ice I saw on Brush Mountain.

What’s underneath that snow? Why a thick sheet of ice, that’s what!

I did give the trail a very cautious benefit of the doubt. I had to be cautious– we can’t have me and Sean with broken feet, can we? I continued on for another switchback or two (sometimes using the nearby trees as security), but the conditions did not improve. Jimmie, of course, had no problem whatsoever. I tried to follow his lead and “Four Wheel” it for a while, but that didn’t work. Jimmie’s dainty little feet didn’t sink all the way through the snow, so he always had some traction. I was heavy enough that I always contacted the ice. Blast that Britney Spears weight.

As usual, Jimmie was ahead of me. Everytime I slipped, he’d look back and appear so baffled. I had to laugh– I kept thinking about the game of touch football in the movie Wedding Crashers.

“What are you doing? […] every time I look over you’re on your ass again!”

Jimmie and I were oh so very close to the top. We had passed that last rocky crossing and were already seeing the rhododendrons that cover the top. Very tempting, but we summoned the strength to wuss out and headed home. Although I knew the view would be “to die for”, I also knew it wasn’t actually worth dying for.

As far as we got– view near the top of Pearis Moutain

It was still a wonderful outing and great exercise. Just a splendid morning and suddenly even late afternoon conference calls went by quickly. 🙂

All my pictures from this snowy Pearis Mountain hike are available on my Flickr site.

P.S. That night, my new boss treated me to a hot chocolate. Am I living the life or what?

February 9, 2007 at 10:18 am 7 comments

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