Friday, October 21, 2016

Tramping and Tripping along the Appalachian Trail

Monday was a vacation day for me, which I had thought I'd be spending in a horizontal position nursing a sore head after the Redskins afternoon, but instead I was up early and off for a hike. I was doing the Thornton River Trail, a 10.5 mile loop, which some rated as moderate, and some as strenuous, but I had all day so I could take it slow. With bottles of water, snacks and my camera I set off for the Skyline Drive.
Sperryville was quiet as I drove through the town, only a tree full of vultures fanning their wings and soaking up the warm rays of sun were my only sightings of life as I passed through. I found the parking lot and loading up, started walking the trail. I've never been any good at map reading so it was a good mile or so later that I realized I had missed a turn. The supposed copse of pine trees was nowhere to be seen and the trail I was on was climbing higher and higher. Up and up and up it went until I realized I was walking along the ridgline.
But the climb was pretty so I was constantly wondering what was around each cormer. As the sunlight dappled through the leaves small light patches and shadows were cast on the path. The steps with mossy rocks on each side looked so inviting it seemed as though I was walking into a fairyland. So I kept climbing and puffing until I reached the summit where I could ease up on the effort and instead saunter along the trail, kicking up the first thin carpet of brown leaves for this season. Fall was definitely coming here, most of the trees were golden with the odd red tinged maple tree, and the breezes constantly blew down leaves that fluttered past me to the ground.
I saw some amazing fungi as I hiked. This one quite high up a tree was something I'd never seen before and intrigued me with its heart shape. I think it was a Lion's Mane Mushroom which if it was should taste pretty good, like seafood.
I wasn't sure if this was decaying Hen of the Woods mushrooms, there were a few around. I'm pretty certain I came across a few Destroying Angels which I nearly picked because they looked so fresh, and so white, and so much like edible mushrooms but common sense told me not to even touch them.
I'd covered about 3 miles and decided to turn back. i had no idea if I could loop back on another trail as I had no phone signal, and stupidly hadn't brought my hiking book with me so I had to play safe rather than chance getting lost. I did pass a couple of folks who were hiking the whole AT and wished them a safe trip for the remainder of the trail. One young girl though, striding alone, fully loaded with supplies, breezed past me, causing me to cough and suppress the urge to gag. She'd evidently been hiking a long time but wasn't making good use of the bathing opportunities that are available at a few of the shelters. I stared after her as she quickly disappeared into the distance and thanked God I wasn't having to follow behind. After a few gulpfuls of fresh mountain air I'd recovered enough to continue. My hip was hurting so I was glad this would be a short hike, and even happier that I'd be seeing my chiropractor on Tuesday to get straightened out.
The parking lot was pretty full when I arrived but most of the folk there were sitting at tables eating lunch or checking out the gift store. I felt pretty good as I strode to the car having completed  my exercise quota for the day. And the rest of the afternoon could be spent chilling with the cats guilt free. Maybe I'd get a go in that new rocking chair...

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