Greetings from Narrows, Virginia, where I’ve decided to stop for a couple of days to rest my sore left heel. I’m staying at the historic MacArthur Inn which was built in the 1940s and so-named on the suggestion from then President Roosevelt in recognition of the general’s efforts in the Pacific during the run-up to WWII. Past clientele have included John Wayne, Audie Murphy (who died nearby in a plane crash and is memorialized with the below monument on the AT) , Mickey Mantle and Michael Landon.
As of yesterday (Wednesday, November 5th) I passed my 1500th mile on the AT and now have less than 690 miles to go to reach the AT’s southern terminus at Springer Mountain, Georgia. As I mentioned earlier, hiking in the great state of Virginia has been magical. With most leaves now off the trees, we are treated daily to spectacular views of the rolling mountain landscape as we gradually traverse south. Virginia is the longest state on the AT with more than 550 miles of trail to walk. I’m about halfway through the state right now. By comparison, Maine is the 2nd longest state on the AT with around 280 miles of trail.
Sunrise on McAfee Knob
McAfee Knob features a stunning rock outcropping that juts out from the peak in dramatic fashion, making it the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail. Joined by half a dozen hiker pals, we stayed at a shelter less than a mile from the Knob a couple of days ago, woke up at 4:30 in the morning and hiked with headlamps to the summit from where we watched a breathtaking sunrise on a crisp, clear morning. My phone was our music player so I didn’t capture photos myself at sunrise, but I’ll post some later when I get them from others. In the mean time I’ve included several from an hour or so later where you can see us standing, jumping, etc. on the iconic landmark.
Another interesting spot on the AT in Virginia is “The Priest,” a formidable six mile climb that challenges the soul! In the registry/logbook at the shelter near the summit, hikers are encouraged to “confess their sins” for others to read… needless to say it makes for entertaining reading. I opted to write the below poem.
The biggest story recently has been the cold weather. Per the above photo, we woke to snow at the Thunder Hill shelter the morning after halloween and hiked in it until the elevation dropped below 3000 feet. Daytime temps in the 40s and 50s make for pleasant hiking weather as long as there is little or no wind, but getting out of a toasty sleeping bag to face morning chills in the 20s and 30s is a different story and I’m glad I’ve got ample winter gear. The mountains in northenr Georgia (my ultimate destination) have already reported snowfalls in the range of 6-12 inches, so cold weather will be a big factor the rest of the way.
Finally, I’ve chatted recently with Wendy, our kids, my mom, friends, etc. and I think especially with the holiday season drawing near and a winter chill in the air, I find myself missing home more than ever. I can’t wait to be back in good ‘ole Minnesota for Christmas, where I plan to reserve a spot by a fire somewhere and melt the ice out of my beard. I’m enjoying a couple days off the trail right now trying to get my heel to improve, and will have another day or two break next week with our upcoming hikers’ thanksgiving, so hopefully between the two I’ll summon the energy and motivation needed to complete this hike in time to be home for the holidays. Thank you all again for tuning in and my very best wishes to you and yours this holiday season. Max.