AT S —-> N
30 miles- Ashby Gap —-> Harpers Ferry
3 1/2 days
After upgrading all my gear to ultralight over the winter I was able to get on the trail. I was 2- 3 weeks late due to my friend kept postponing the ride he was going to give me but I didn’t complain because it was a hour and 10 minute ride to the trail head from where we live. The AT parking lot is at Ashby Gap Where the AT crosses Rt 50 near Paris, Virginia. He asked if I minded if his girlfriend came along and I said that’s great. Good thing because she mentioned that I should get some propel to add to my water so we stopped en route went to the store and got it before the trail head. Good thing because everyone on the trail, thru- hikers at least w/their loads myself included , were sweating 😓 buckets
The whole time I planned this hiking trip I didn’t realize that this section of the trail was known as The Roller Roaster Because they were so much elevation changes in a 14 mile stretch. I knew there were elevation changes and the mountains were under 2000 ft BUT The elevation changes were one- after- the- other with no flat spots in- between. 😲 Look at the AllTrails write up and you’ll see what I mean. Luckily I mentioned to my friend where I was going and he relayed that information to me but he said I should be OK. After hearing from him I gave my trip more time to complete it
Turns out, not only was the hiking pretty hard-core, rocks everywhere, elevation changes but the temperature was 90+ degrees. Another downside is there were only maybe 3- 4 lookouts on the entire section. The one good thing I will say about the section of the trail as there was plenty of water During the first 16 or so miles. Actually ended- up carrying probably a liter too much for most of the trip.
I didn’t look at my map after completing the first 12+ mile section of the Roller Coaster and thought I was done. Turns out there was another 3.3 miles to go on the other side of Route seven to reach the northern terminus of the Coaster. The descent to my campground for the 2nd night was all rocks, a “rock garden” as it were, I wish I took a picture of it.
Campsite for the 2nd night. My Lunar Solo tent made of silnylon. The main tent site was covered with a dead fall so I had to camp off to the side on a slight incline which meant that I had to keep scooting over throughout the night every couple hours. No biggie. There was a water source right there which was nice. Next morning got up and walked up to the 2nd look out
Went off trail on 2nd afternoon to go to the Blackburn Trail Center to see if they had a grill and/or water. I had water but you can never have too much when it’s the beginning of summer in Virginia. Talk to a great bunch of people there seems I was just ahead of the Bubble on my section hike. Gratefully accepted an ice cold Coke and got water and then got back up on the AT. They had well water there that tasted really good
This part of my section hike was pretty much just up on the ridge the rest of the way very nice old growth forest and boulders here and there
Last lookout before Lesser Shelter. Place called Buzzard Rocks. It was also blue blazed but I didn’t see any easy access to water and it was hot outside and I wanted to make it to the shelter
Lesser shelter, which was really cool, Good condition, lots of room, porch with a bench although they told me at Blackburn Trail Center that the water source was 500 yards down the hill not too easy. I didn’t really need water right then so it was not an issue
Never ended up staying at a shelter I always got there too early in the day so I ended up camping out three nights which I enjoyed. My last campsite was across Route 9 to a campsite called Four Mile campsite. Very flat and cleared nicely downside was it was a “primitive “ site meaning no water source. I knew of this by looking at my map and they told me at Blackburn Trail Center as well so I just drink a little less water than usual. Next morning woke up and walked 4 miles into Harpers Ferry which was a looong 4 miles