Will, JC, and I took a weekend trip to the Tidewater Appalachian Trail Club cabin
(http://www.tidewateratc.com/tatc/pages/cabin_picture.html) to do some hiking, but also to plan for a big fall trip.
JC and I picked up Will in Richmond at the REI and then Will drove us west. We stopped at the Blue Mountain Brewery for dinner and a pint. Tasty! (http://www.bluemountainbrewery.com)
On this winter day, the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed so we had to park as close to the Parkway and cabin trailhead as we could get. The Royal Oaks Cabins in Love, VA
(http://www.vacabins.com) was kind enough to let us park at their facility and then it was another 2.5 miles to the trailhead and another 0.5 miles to the cabin. The weather was cold, but we were excited to get to the cabin. The walk on Parkway road was easy and there was not much snow or ice to contend with. We made it to the trailhead and lugged in all of our extra gear - books and maps, brews and stew fixings, extra clothes, lanterns and propane tanks, eggs and bacon and sausage.
Once at the cabin, we got a good fire going in the fireplace. Lighting the wood-burning cook stove was another matter. We struggled with the outdoor chamber in the chimney to get the proper draft, and generally made a smoky mess of things until we finally gave up at midnight.
It was a cold night in the cabin. We awoke to find it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit outside and only 26 degrees inside! It was frickin COLD!
We cooked a big breakfast on the Coleman stove with propane tanks. We ate all the eggs, bacon, and sausage we had. We boiled water for coffee and hot chocolate.
After breakfast we decided to warm up a bit by replenishing the wood we had burned the night before. We hauled wood up from a lower pile and Will demonstrate his splitting prowess. We put back more than we burned, packed up and started our hike at around 11:00.
We had hoped to hike around 5 miles on the White Rock Falls, Slacks Trail, and White Rock Gap Trails and do a little trout fishing along the way. However, with the temps hovering in the single digits, I was betting it would just be casting practice.
Here we are at the start of the White Rock Falls Trail- Will with blaze orange accents.
As we walked along the trail, there were all these beautiful little ice pillars formed by the freezing and thawing of the snow and ground. It was a pity to crush them as we went.
The White Rock Falls trail was very nice, following along White Rock Creek for quite a distance. Keeping an eye out for nice runs and pools, we finally spotted one for Will to try his casting skills with the Scott 3 wt. They were beautiful, but pool after pool we did not get any taps.
And so it went as we hiked and fished, hiked and fished. On our ascent to cross the parkway to the Slacks Trail, it began to snow and we talked about leaving early so we wouldn't need to spend another freezing night in the cabin and potentially get stuck trying to get out on a country road.
Cold and snowing, we had some beautiful views of the mountains all to ourselves. Snow and ice on these rock outcroppings kept me from trying to get this view without the trees in the way.
We were moving now with purpose and by the time we reached the Blue Ridge Parkway, the snow was coming at us sideways at about 20 mph. We made it back to the cabin, hurriedly packed up and cleaned up the cabin and made our way back down the trailhead. We hiked the seemingly longer 2.5 miles out and back to the Royal Oaks Cabins in Love. We were happy to see Will's Honda and even happier to see the camp store open so we ducked in to thank the proprietor and get some drinks and snacks for the ride home.
After some pleasant conversation we hit the road and Will turned the Honda for Richmond. After a brief stop for some soup, we made it back to Will's house, ate dinner, and discussed plans for a big fall trip to the Pisgah National Forest. We were pretty tired from the cold, short sleep Friday night and the hiking on Saturday so our discussion was only half-heated as our lids grew heavy. Sleep came easily.
The next morning, we had a hearty breakfast, bored JC with all our talk of fly fishing, and finally bade Will farewell as JC and I headed for the barn.
The cabin wood-burning cook stove kicked our A$$ so perhaps not the best trip, but we did have some fun and the hike was nice. We did all we had set out to do (minus a second cold night in the cabin), learned about the temperature-rating limitations of our gear, and enjoyed each others camaraderie - not much more to ask for eh?