Risk's Ultralight Hiking

The skills involved in setting up a light backpack serve well for both hiking and touring. Learning what is really necessary and then finding high quality gear that meets my honest needs leads to much less carried and more fun. I hope this journal is as much fun to read as it is to write.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Blue Ridge Trip - Day 3

Miles today: 449 (total of 4380 miles on the VN750)
Weather: A little sprinkle, lots of sun, but the roads were often wet as I was chasing thunderstorms.
Begin: Tuggle Gap, VA on the Blue Ridge Parkway,
Ending: Grafton, WV
Hours driven: 14.5 (new personal record)

Today's trip began with the upper portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway. From the time that I climbed out of the Roanoke area, this was a section of the Blue Ridge that I know from hiking the Appalachian Trail that parallels the BRP. The northern part of the parkway has a different feel from the southern parkway. The curves are more sweeping and it is easier to stay in 5th gear for much of the time.

It was fun seeing all the places that I had stopped last year while hiking the trail through this section. The Peaks of Otter's small nature museum was not open at the hour I went by. The breakfast room and bookstore at Otter Creek would not be open for another week according to the girls that were stocking the bookstore.

I refueled at Waynesboro and entered Shendoah NP. The cost of driving a motorcycle through the park had risen from the previous year. It now stands at $10, where it was $5. This is a 7 day fee, but it only takes part of a day to drive through the park...

I continued down memory lane in Shenendoah, having also driven all of the park last year on a motorcycle while I was hiking (I used it as a self shuttle) The park's speed limit is only 35, as compared with the Blue Ridge Parkway's 45. The roads are about the same as the southern 200 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and 35 mph often seems like the best speed to be taking.

I reached the northern end of the park about 3 PM and headed out across West Virginia on the way back to Ohio. I started in Front Royal and drove to Winchester on US 522, where I took US 50 west. US 50 was a major road for most of the rest of Virginia, but turned into a much twistier road in West Virginia.

I was driving on wet roads with occasional gravel. Hairpin turns were common. Late in the day, I crossed a small sliver of Maryland where the roads were markedly better than the West Virginia roads. My hope was to camp at Cathdral State Park, but that park did not have any camping.

The section of road from Auora to Macomber was as difficult to drive as any I have seen. There were large altitude changes, especially coming into Macomber, with dozens of hairpin turns that could only be negotiated at a snail's pace.

I looked around the Macomber area for camping, as this was down in a valley, but the locals knew of no camping areas, either private or state park. So I elected to continue to Grafton where I found a nice hotel for about $50 with carpet, a working TV and a nice shower.

Long day... Getting off the bike, I realized how tired I had gotten. The seat was comfortable to the end. No pain - just tired. I pulled the gear off the bike and into the motel room where I feel a deep sleep coming on.


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