RATC/VTOC 140 #7 – Dragons Tooth

As I mentioned, in my last post, I added 20sh miles of the Va Tech Outdoor Club’s section to the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club challenge (RATC 120). I will now be doing at least 140 continuous miles in sections. All of RATC and at least some of Virginia Tech Outdoor Club sections. The 20sh mile Rice Fields section, is part of the Va Tech (VTOC) and in the middle of the RATC, so it makes sense. The 140 is continuous from Bland Va to Black Horse Gap VA.

Today’s section was 311/Dragons Tooth to 620/Millers Cove. This is a 7 mile section

We did an out and back for 14 miles. Another “backyard” local favorite. The famous Dragons Tooth section.

The group was Dru, Kathleen, Lisa Nielsen, Jack Bugo and Abby.

The weather was fantastic. Cold in the early morning, but not too cold. Sunny and clear. I had done this section before, but never in the winter. The views, with the leaves gone, was great.

We started at the Dragons Tooth parking lot on 311. We went up to Dragons Tooth, which is an amazing mountain top view, rock formation area. We then continued South toward 620/Millers Cove road. The part past Dragons Tooth had views the whole way. We were on a ridge and had views on both sides. The trail is pretty technical, rocky and slow. We came to the downhill part, going toward 620, then turned around at 620 and went back.

Abby, my dog, got separated from me twice. This has never happened before. The 311 to Dragons Tooth section is busy and has multiple turns and false turns. She got too far ahead and made a turn, then got confused where we were. The first time, I had to go back down Dragons Tooth, to get her.

The second time, a super nice lady called me and had her. Part of the story.

Jack and I parted ways, with the ladies, near the end. This was at the Boy Scout Trail intersection. We wanted to add this on to a local All Roanoke trails challenge.

I have not done the math yet, but probably have at least 35 miles left of the 140. I may also add the other VT section, which would make 150.

RATC 120 #6-Rice Fields 21sh mile section

RATC 120 #6 was the Rice Fields section, between Pocahontas Rd/460-Pearisburg to Stony Creek/Cherokee Flats. It was a 17 mile and almost 4000 foot climb trek. We staged cars, at both ends and did a point to point.

This section is actually maintained by Virginia Tech and is in the middle of the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club section. Fletch kept asking me about this, as he is extremely knowledgeable about tthe AT. I figured it was part of the 120, but it is not. My 120 challenge is now around a 140 challenge…RATC plus at least some of the VT section. From Bland to Black Horse is around 140.

This was one of the coldest long runs, that I have ever been on. This trek is on a ridge, for 12sh miles. It was super cold, already, but a big time windchill, on the ridge, added a ton. Had to be single digits, counting the ridge windchill. I left my beanie on for the first 12 miles or so. That is unheard of..my head always gets hot. My hands were really cold also. I did wear shorts and, as usual, my legs never got cold.

The group was Emily, Rachel, Fletch, Huck and myself.

The climbing was deceiving. It did not seem like we were climbing as much, as what my watch was saying, in the early miles.

Highlights were the long Ridgeline, the Rice Fields shelter and the Swamp Branch shelter.

Great section and many thanka to Emily, Rachel and Fleth for arranging it.

We all went out to eat at Bluegrass BBQ in Pembroke, after. What a treat that was. Food and atmosphere is fantastic.

RATC 120 #5-Stony Creek to 42

Another fantastic day and trek, on the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club 120 challenge. This one was a 19sh mile section, in the Pearisburg/Giles County area.

I was blessed to have been able to run adventure with Emily, Rachel, Fletch and Huck-Emily and Jeremy’s dog. Jeremy was not able to run this one, but was kind enough to shuttle us. Thanks Jeremy!

This is us, at the Stony Creek start:

We climbed around 1300 feet, in the first 2 miles and around 1700, in the first 5 miles. We topped out at Wind Rock, at mile 5. Snow was on the ground, at around 3000 feet.

We had a big descent after Wind Rock, then another big climb to Kelly Knob.

Highlights of this trek are as follows:

Wind Rock-a great peak lookout view at over 4100 feet:

Bailey Gap Shelter:

Lone Pike Peak-over 4000 feet – no picture

War Spur Shelter:

Mountain Lake Wilderness area:

Kelly Knob lookout view-3730 feet (foggy/cloudy views):

Laurel Creek Shelter:

Open fields, near the end-42: Emily took this photo of Huck running back to her

Finish at 42:

I have around 76 miles completed, on the challenge. I have around 44 to go. Rice Fields section is next.

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RATC 120 #4 – 311 to 220 20sh miles

This section run, is a personal and local favorite..311 to 220. I have done this section many times and was my first real long trek, 9 or so years ago.

This section has the great McAfee Knob, Tinker Cliffs and Hay Rock views/rock formations.

A great group of Helen MacDermott, Jack Bugo, Greg James, Mike Daly, Bobby Walton and Justin Bower were together. There were several others friends out there, but doing different versions.

Luckily, Jeff Jones was nice enough to shuttle us from Daleville, to 311-McAfee lot. Thanks Jeff!

It was a great day. Fun and great weather, for late January.

311 to 220 is roughly 20 miles. Helen and I did a few more, after, but I had already completed those miles, for the challenge.

I now have around 58 miles completed, of the RATC 120 challenge. I have around 62 to go. I will be doing another 20 mile trek this weekend.

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My third trek on the RATC 120 (the 120 AT miles that the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains) completion, was part of a great social group hike.

Amy Stone had set up the “Pints on the Porch” social hike, months ago. It fit in nicely, with my RATC 120 completion.

We shuttled cars and did a point to point hike, of 6 AT miles, from VA 311/McAfee lot to the Scout trail/Dragons Tooth lot. AT mileage 1481 to 1487.

What a pretty and nice December day! We met at 12:30 pm to shuttle cars and started around 1pm.

I did some trail work, that morning, on Sawmill Branch (in Carvins Cove and intersects with the AT). Ron Butler and I were assisting Josh Gilbert, on the trail project. I went straight from doing the trail work, to this hike. It was a bit much, but all worked out well.

Our social hike group consisted of Amy Stone, Kim Stafford, Molly Armistead, Jack Bugo, Taylor Stone, Brian Lang and Dave Mueller. Brian brought Jasper, a great one year old Labrador Retriever.

SO many leaves, covered most of the trail! Made for some slipping and mis-stepping.

Midway or so, we were behind the famed Homeplace restaurant. Many a thru hiker, has stopped here, for big time eats. It’s an old farm house set up, with homestyle meals.

View of another mountain, early on:

This ridge, that we were on, between 311 and Dragons Tooth is called Sawtooth Ridge.

We crossed 2 roads..785-Blacksburg Rd-4 miles in and 624-Newport Rd-6 miles in.

5 miles in is a creek and footbridge

There are a couple of big grassy field sections.

We finished up, on the Scout trail/Dragons Tooth lot. Great hike. We all went to Amy’s after, for food and drinks.

I now have 37 miles completed and 83 miles to go, for the RATC 120.

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RATC 120 #2

I decided the next section would be, starting from the top. The Northernmost point is Black Horse Gap. 13.5 AT miles south, is Daleville and route 220. Dru went with me this time. We met at the Valley Cleaners in Daleville. We left Dru’s car at the cleaners. The Appalachian Trail crosses 220, right beside the cleaners. Dru rode with me to Black Horse Gap.

Fairly cold day, but not bad at all. Rain was supposed to come in around 10:30am or so. We started at 7am.

Nice views, but they were all through the trees.

Still some leaf color out there, in spots.

First few miles were easy down hill, but lots of climbing after that.

Highlights were the 2 shelters..Wilson Creek and Fullhardt Knob.

Once we got to Fullhardt, it was around 6 miles mostly descent, back toward 220 and the car.

This is a tough hill, near route 11.

We crossed route 11 in Troutville and had to go under and beside I-81. This is an ugly and loud (cars on interstate) section.

We cruised on in, as the rain was starting.

Second run done. 31 miles down, 89 to go!

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RATC 120 #1

New multi adventure: I decided to do the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club 113, which is really 120 miles. I plan to complete it in sections…maybe 6 or 7. https://www.ratc.org/trail-info/113-mile-club/

The Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club maintains 120 miles of the AT. They give you a patch for completing their section. It has to be documented and you have to be a member of the club. Below is the patch I am working on getting.

I had just finished two big races. I had a 50k in October and a 50 miler in November. I had been thinking about doing this, so it was time to start on it.

My first section was an 18.5 mile section, near Newport VA. I reached out to a friend-Emily Hutchins, that lives out that way. She picked the section. Doing point to point runs are best, so we arranged to shuttle and stage cars. Emily’s husband-Jeremy, another friend of theirs-Skip and a mutual friend Erin went. Huck, Emily and Jeremy’s dog also went.

The section was route 42 to Miller Cove.

It was a cold morning! Jeremy is not trained up for 18 miles, so a third car was staged at the 11 mile mark. That gave anyone an out, for the 11.

Within a couple miles or so, we came across Keffer Oak, which I was not aware of. This is a beautiful, huge, OLD white oak. The second oldest oak, on the entire AT. It is around 300 years old, around 20 feet circumference and around 60 feet tall. The oldest is in NY.

The other big highlight was the Audie Murphy Memorial


Other highlights:

Eastern Divide sign

Niday shelter

Around 102 miles to go!