Wednesday August 12, 2020
It was so hot in Charlottesville, we decided to go to Shenandoah National Park for a few days. Big Meadows campground was full. During this Covid-19 mess, I have found campgrounds to be full or busy all across the country. Camping is a relatively safe thing to do in these conditions. Loft Mountain is first-come-first-serve, so I decided to take a chance. Only about 37 miles from Charlottesville, it takes an hour or more to get there because the speed limit on the Skyline Drive is 35.
A lady volunteer sat at a table in front of the campground office, and I sheepishly asked her if there were any sites. “Only about a hundred”, she said. Relieved, I drove around three times, trying to find the “perfect site”, settling on A81. There are no hookups at Loft Mountain, but at 3400′ elevation, it was a good 10 degrees cooler with a nice breeze. I texted Martha that I found a site, and she drove her car up. We sat out in a nice evening, cooking salmon filets and potatoes on the Cobb grill.
The next morning I wanted to hike to Ivy Creek on the Appalachian Trail. It is a beautiful stream, not accessible by any other trail. We walked from the campsite, down to the camp store, took a trail to the left that didn’t pan out, then behind the camp store to the Appalachian Trail. I remembered it well from my 9-day hike on the trail through the 110 miles of Shenandoah National Park. I don’t think I could do it again. I remember this section being a tough, but very pretty part. Besides, Martha wanted to walk some on the AT.
Concrete sign posts with metal bands around the top mark distances to destinations. It was 2.5 miles to the spring. I knew Ivy Creek crossing was further, but I didn’t know how much. It was a pretty morning and a nice temperature. We have had so much rain, I felt like I was walking in a jungle. Trees, grasses, flowers, mushrooms and bushes were in full growth. The trail passes three pretty overlooks, and the Frazier Trail, an easier way to get to one of the overlooks.
There are very few direct lines on the AT, or any other trails in these mountains, but it generally follows the Skyline Drive. When walking down to Ivy Creek Spring, I felt like I was walking far away from the parkway, but I really wasn’t. The cabin at the spring is now used as a storage place the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, that maintains the trail. Too bad, as this would make a great cabin to stay in.
500 yards into the spring, 500 back, then maybe a mile to Ivy Creek. It is as pretty as I remember it. There is no trail following it down. It eventually flows into the Lynch River and then into the North Fork of the Rivanna River. Virginia has 2,900 miles of wild trout streams, but this one is quite difficult, if not impossible to fish. If you were able to fish your way downstream for a few hours, then you would have to walk back upstream, then back up this steep mountain. Makes me wish I was younger and more fit. Remember, the pictures below are taken at the top. of the stream.
The hike back up the mountain was tough, although it didn’t seem so for Martha, who has been walking a lot in preparation for walking the El Camino Trail in Spain. Unfortunately, that trip was cancelled this year. I let her set the pace as usual, but I was struggling. It was getting hot now, and very humid. By the time we got back to camp, we had walked 8 or 9 miles. I have been unable to stay in shape since getting Lyme Disease last year, so I was whupped when we got back.
We were napping when a “Hello” came from outside. It was Dick and Ginger, who had stopped by yesterday to talk about Airstreams. They are thinking about buying one and wanted to know how I liked it. We had a nice chat for about 45 minutes. They are an interesting couple with stories I would like to hear more about. I think it was 2002 or 5 they sold their house in DC, bought a sailboat, and have been traveling on it ever since. Having recently moved to Charlottesville, we will have to get together and trade stories. They had some great stories of Newfoundland and how nice the people are. Once they had moored the boat and taken the dingy to shore for groceries. They asked a fisherman how far a store was. “About 5 miles. Take my truck. The keys are in it.” We found the same thing with Newfies. It is a lovely province with lovely people.