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[at-l] Re: [HATT] HATT section 4B trip report (very long saga)

I enjoyed your report! Thanks.

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On 9/6/00 at 4:42 AM Dave Hughes 3019B x2640 wrote:

>Note: I stayed up all night to write this, I hope someone reads it. :)
>First a little background so you can get a feel for my previous AT experience.
>I am currently 56 years old and first backpacked in 1997 with my 21-year old
>son on a loop in the Mt Rogers area from Old Orchard shelter to Whitetop and
>back. One item I remember from that trip was going up Whitetop and meeting some
>hikers who asked my son "Is he ok?". I must have looked pretty bad....
>My second trip was the next year (solo this time) from Pearisburg north
>to the War Spur trail (ended up at Mountain Lake Hotel).
>The last one was I77 north to Pearisburg in 1999 (also solo) ending up a day
>early and stayed at the Rendezvous Motel, ate the Chinese buffet at the Lucky
>Star, and visited the Holy Family Hospice.
>Each of these trips was about the same as a HATT section so I was pretty
>confident I could easily do one.
>For equipment I carry a technical North Face Exocet modified to carry a
>sleeping bag external. Strapped onto the sides are a 7-pound CampTrails
>Phoenix tent and a Thermarest. For a stove I use the wood-burning Sierra Zip,
>and filter water with the Pur Hiker.
>This year I was waiting to see what HATT 2000 sections needed filling up.
>I was toying with the idea of doing Saddleback but that section had filled up
>by late May. By early June the only section left outside of Maine was
>HATT section 4B (VA route 624 south to FS road 156). I thought this was strange
>because it includes Dragon's Tooth, Audie Murphy mounument and the Keffler Oak.
>So I signed up. My plan was to hike south and then turn around and re-hike
>the section northbound to my car by Wednesday evening (6 days total). One
>problem with section 4B is there are no services or easy bail-out points
>if you don't have outside support.
>I drove down from Ohio Thursday night (too late for the chicken dinner at
>the Homeplace Restaurant in Catawba so I settled for MickeyD's), stayed in
>a motel near Roanoke, and met Woodelf and Ratboy on Friday morning. After a
>short shuttle from the parking lot to the trailhead we shook hands and I
>was heading up towards Dragon's Tooth at 11:30AM. The trail was easy grade
>and after a while became rocky in spots. The rocks became more numerous near
>the top (there are two spots with metal handrails to help). I passed three
>hikers who were playing around on the rocks, and I had Dragon's Tooth all to
>myself for a half-hour lunch/snack. The mist and fog was swirling around and
>I saw 10 large birds (eagles/hawks?) soaring way up in the mist in formation.
>The mist and overcast conditions kept things cool for the easy ridge walk on
>Cove Mtn and down the rocky trail off the mountain. The three guys I met
>earlier caught up with me at the blue-blaze down to Pickle Branch shelter.
>I got to the shelter at 6PM, 6.5 miles in 6.5 hours. I usually do 2MPH, except
>on uphills where I slow to a 1MPH+ crawl, consuming water liberally.
>After getting some water at the nearby stream and cooking some vegetables and
>corn pasta (thanks, Ray Jardine), I set up the tent and got some sleep.
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