News from the Valley Trails
Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of PATC
If you have a Facebook page, be sure to look for and like our page, PATC Southern Shenandoah Valley Chapter. On there, we will try to post updates as we have them. If you don't already receive them, you can also subscribe to our email blast by using the link on our home page: SSVC PATC
Gary Flynn offered our first Introduction to Trail Maintenance workshop in the North River District on Saturday, Feb. 19. The training was geared toward club members who want to learn more about what is involved in trail maintenance and get some hands-on experience. The 7 PATC members who attended the workshop trimmed back vegetation, removed small blowdowns, and dug out sidehill to widen the trail. Not only did participants learn new skills, they also left the trail better than they found it.
Stay tuned for more monthly training sessions, and register on PATC Volunteers Meetup. We will send an eblast to SSVC the day before Gary posts the workshop on Meetup.
Tentative workshop dates: March 19, April 23, May 21, June 18 (may focus on weedeater use), July 30, August 13, Sept. 10, Oct. 15, and Nov. 12.
Thanks, Gary, for providing this training to potential trail maintainers in the North River District.
Lynn and Malcolm Cameron
North River District Managers
by Lynn Cameron (based on Staunton News Leader archives)
Mountain House Picnic Area and Confederate Breastworks observation deck and parking lot were constructed in 1967. The Confederate Breastworks overlook on Rt. 250 is one of the most scenic viewpoints on Shenandoah Mountain. It offers a panoramic view of Shaws Ridge, Bullpasture Mountain, and Jack Mountain in Highland County and more of the Allegheny Mountains extending into West Virginia.
The Breastworks Interpretive Trail offers an opportunity to relive the events of April 1862 by reading letters Captain Shepherd Pryor of the 12th Georgia Regiment wrote to his wife. The view west from the Interpretive Trail is even better than the one along 250.
The Mountain House Picnic Area is now a gateway to Ramseys Draft Wilderness and a place for motorists to stop and rest. The original Mountain House was a toll house on the Parkersburg Turnpike where travelers could spend the night. Mountain House was destroyed by fire in Nov. 1919.
Over the last year, many of us have enjoyed hiking and spending time with Patrick Bastow. Patrick is from Edenbridge, Kent (England). He moved to the Shenandoah Valley to help manage the greenhouse for Shenandoah Growers. For most of his time in the United States, Patrick lived in downtown Harrisonburg. Because Patrick’s wife Savy did not come to the U.S. right away, Patrick looked for ways to get exercise and keep busy when not at work. Running with new American friends was one of his hobbies, and he was happy to find our club that offered “walks” on the weekends. Patrick enthusiastically joined us for hikes, carpooling, trail work and picnics. Patrick received one of our service awards last year for his active participation and enthusiasm in SSVC's hiking program, trail maintenance, and other events. We loved his company, as well as learning about British culture and fun sayings. Patrick seemingly never got tired and took great interest in everyone around him. Everyone appreciated Patrick’s friendly nature. He took every chance to visit US landmarks, and even went to NYC with some of his coworkers!
In September, Patrick's wife Savy came to the U.S. to visit him for a while. She enjoyed exploring the mountains, meeting Patrick's new friends and joining us for some outings. Savy will surely remember the rattlesnake she saw on Madison Run Fire Road! About this time, Patrick’s company relocated him to Culpeper, VA, where they had to scramble to find housing. After getting settled, Savy was able to volunteer at a museum and a church.
In October, Patrick faced a health scare with a battle with colon cancer. We are thrilled to report that after surgery, he is cancer free. After a very tough few months, Patrick and Savy made the very difficult decision to return to England. Before leaving though, they spent New Years Eve in Harrisonburg with friends, visited Washington, DC, Bristol TN/VA, Nashville, and the U.S. side of Niagara Falls! And probably more! Patrick stated "thank you to all the lovely friends we have met in America - let’s keep in touch and we hope to see you in Europe one day!"
We will certainly miss Patrick and Savy's company. We are so glad that we got to meet them, spend time on the trail together, and get to know one another. We are sad to see them leave, but wish them the best in everything yet to come! We know Patrick and Savy will surely find good live music to listen to and enjoy time with their two sons Alex and Ben, family, and friends now that they are back home!
Shout out to James and Millie Davis for taking on the responsibility of being the new maintainers for Calf Mountain Shelter. Located between Beagle Gap and Jarman Gap, Calf Mountain Shelter is the first shelter that hikers will reach when hiking north into Shenandoah National Park. Shelter volunteer are responsible for keeping the shelter clean, repaired and ready for hikers. Millie said her first task will be to clear out all the spider webs.
James and Millie are active hikers and Millie serves as one of our hike leaders. They have been assisting other trail maintainers for a few years and have learned some techniques from them. They are ready to take on this new challenge.
If you would like to hike to Calf Mountain Shelter, you can begin at Jarman Gap and hike south on the AT to the spur trail of the shelter. The trail to the shelter is 0.3 miles long. You can also begin at Beagle Gap, hike north on the AT, enjoy the view on Little Calf Mountain, and descend to the shelter spur trail. For more information about the hike to the shelter, you can watch this You Tube video that we made last year: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w605kpDj83I
In honor of the 60th anniversary of the Tuscarora, the PATC is sponsoring a challenge to help everyone learn more about the trail. The challenge is to hike 60 miles, perform 60 hours of trail work, or any combination of these to equal 60. To help with the challenge, our chapter will offer hikes along the trail.
Our first hike was held on February 10 and was led by Heather Denny and Jean Stephens. This hike was located in the north district of Shenandoah National Park and began by using the Thompson Hollow Trail. The group followed this trail to reach the Tuscarora, then climbed to view Overall Run Falls. Overall Run is the tallest waterfall in the park with a height of 93 feet. The hike continued on past the falls to complete a loop using other trails in the area. On this loop, the group completed 2.4 miles of the Tuscarora Trail.
If you are looking for a great way to begin exploring the Tuscarora, a trip to visit Overall Run falls from Thompson Hollow is a great start. If you don't want to complete the entire loop of 8.5 miles, you can choose to hike out/back to falls. You can count the miles on the Tuscarora both ways!
To view a map of the area provided by Shenandoah National Park, click here: https://www.nps.gov/shen/planyourvisit/upload/MathewsArm_RoadTrail.pdf
To read a description of the our circuit hike, click here:
To learn more about the Tuscarora challenge and to sign up, click here:
The Southern Shenandoah Valley chapter is sponsoring a challenge to explore the 90 miles of trails in our North River District. Many of our members maintain trails in this area. We want to highlight their efforts and introduce others to this beautiful remote area. The challenge is to hike 90 miles, perform 90 hours of trail work, or any combination of these to equal 90. This is an on-going challenge and not limited to one year.
For February, we offered a hike on Trimble Mountain Trail. The hike was held on February 27 and was led by Pam Heinrich. Located near Todd Lake, Trimble Mountain is a moderate circuit hike of 4 miles. Trimble is very convenient for campers at Todd Lake and it’s really popular with locals, too. It is a nice loop with bear grass, hepatica, and some other wildflowers.
We decided to hike the trail clockwise as we found the ascent to be more gradual. This route also provided great views of nearby ridges along our descent. We all agreed that this hike provided enough of a climb to give you a good workout without being too tiring. We hope that it will be a good kickoff to our more spring-like hiking season.
Thanks to a recent trail maintenance workshop held on the trail and blow downs being removed the day before, the trail was in fantastic shape for our hike. Great job trail maintainers!
For more information on the Trimble Mountain Hike, click here:
For more information on our North River District Challenge and to join in, click here: