Cool Temps and Clear Skies

A Change in Weather

Overnight, it seems the daytime temperatures changed from 90 plus degrees to the mid-70s. This change makes all the difference in the world as far as hiking comfort. I’m hoping it continues just a bit longer (about 5 more weeks until I get to Springer mountain).

Day 113 – Rice Field shelter to Pearisburg (7 miles) 

Day 114 – Pearisburg to Kimberly Creek (27 miles) 

Day 115 Kimberly Creek to mountain view stealth site (21 miles) 

Day 116 Stealth site to Burke’s Garden (18 miles)

Burke’s Garden

Hikers find surprises everyday along the Appalachian trail. Every once in awhile, however, you find something truly magical. That’s what I thought when I hiked down out of the mountains into a place called Burke’s Garden.

This area was formed as a mountain collapsed over time, creating high elevation valley in the shape of a bowl, completely surrounded by mountains. Today, it’s a farming community heavily influenced by the Amish. On a Friday night, we were treated to an Amish buffet at the local general store, featuring their home-grow food. The family running the store was super friendly and spent the evening talking with us as we enjoyed their dinner.

Day to Night

As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, the complexion of the trail changes frequently. In Virginia, there are areas where the trail features ferns,

or club moss,

or invasive overgrowth:

Large sections of the Virginia forest are comprised of patches of rhododendron. At times the plants are so thick, day turns to night as you travel through a dense jungle.

I wish I was here when they were blooming. It must be quite a show.

A Mystery

When walking along the trail, my head is typically down in order to avoid tripping on rocks and roots. As a result, I see a lot of forest floor.  During the last several days, I’ve encountered a mystery that I just can’t seem to solve. Every once in awhile, I see several broken Pine branches on the forest floor. It almost appears that they’ve been cut as the result of trail maintenance. I know this is not the case because the tree is over 100 ft tall. This is what it looks like:

I have asked other hikers and performed an online search to find a solution, but so far have come up short. If anybody knows the answer, please let everyone know by providing a comment. Thanks for your help.

A Fond Farwell

One more photo – As we hiked out, we caught this picture looking down on Burke’s Garden, prior to the sun burning off its morning haze. If you click to enlarge, you’ll see the bowl and surrounding mountains. It’s really quite a place.

Thanks for listening.

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Comments 3

  • Aric : Sep 18th

    The mystery could possibly be squirrels chewing the pine cones off the branches and causing the rest of the branch falling. It could also be squirrels sharpening their teeth by chewing on the branches. I have squirrels sharpening their teeth by chewing on maple and poplar branches in my yard so bad sometimes I have to use the leaf blower on the branch debris.

  • Wanda Hale : Sep 19th

    I was also going to say squirrels. They use the tips of branches to build a nest for their fall litters. But I didn’t know they use pine tips. In my yard they prefer the oak.

  • Dough Boi : Sep 21st

    I tried Googling the mystery and your article was the first search result. Hm.


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