Dispatch three: Appalachian Trail Instruction Wheels
SNP September 8–16, 2019
If you are new to backpacking or just contemplating attempting it out for the 1st time, I can’t very adequate advocate the Appalachian Trail by means of Shenandoah National Park. The park is beautiful, the terrain humane, and the blackberry ice cream pie transcendent. This section of the AT gives a quantity of scaffolds to bridge an outside enthusiast from auto camping to backpacking. The frequency of waysides—resupply points—along the trail indicates you carry only 2–3 days’ meals, generating your pack somewhat light. The trail crosses Skyline Drive thirty-two instances, a comfort if remoteness worries you. The frank beauty and plentiful vistas imply most climbs yield the reward of a view. Generally, it is a classroom for Backpacking 101.
Along or not far off the AT (a phrase properly synonymous with along or not far off Skyline Drive), you will obtain lots of reminders that civilization exists—reminders additional scarce along remoter sections of the trail. The route encounters or skirts by 4 campgrounds: from south to north they are Loft Mountain, Lewis Mountain (which also has cabins), Massive Meadows (which also has a lodge), and Matthews Arm. It passes a resort: Skyland. Loft Mountain, Massive Meadows, and Skyland have restaurants. Loft Mountain, Lewis Mountain, Massive Meadows, and Matthews Arm have camp retailers, laundry, and showers. (If camp retailer resupply alternatives do not meet your desires, you can mail oneself packages. Address them to the distinct campground, c/o Delaware North, 26 N. Broad St., Luray, VA 22835, attn: Your Name, hiker).
The park’s assortment of habitats and wildlife are a delight. The scenery appears to modify each couple of miles: some sections go by means of hemlock groves, some cross meadows, some traverse boulder fields, and some trace ridges with sparse adequate tree cover to make the illusion of walking in the sky.
It is got bears, bobcats, deer, chipmunks, chickadees, owls, hawks, wild turkeys, titmice, toads and frogs and salamanders and newts, butterflies, spiders, crayfish, centipedes and millipedes, rattlesnakes, box turtles, carp, bass, and brook trout amongst its thousands of animal species.
To be certain, backpacking in SNP is nevertheless backpacking, which might be glorious but is normally difficult and unpleasant. It is nevertheless walking up and down mountains, it is nevertheless carrying 30 or so pounds on your individual. There are stretches—up to 12-mile stretches—with no water sources. It rains. It gets hot. It gets cold. There are gnats. There are mosquitos and flies and bees and wasps and mice and snakes. There are a lot of bears.
General even though, the park’s visual charms, benign terrain, and abounding assistance combine to make a backpacking encounter much easier than that discovered on other sections of the AT. It is the fantastic location to dip your toe into the wilderness. Then, with such a rewarding backcountry encounter beneath your belt, who knows? Perhaps you will tackle a tougher section—or the complete thing—next!
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