Monday, we needed to hike The Priest so my parents could post signs closing the privy. The hike up past Crabtree falls to the summit is scenic, but it is the toughest hill climb around — 3,000 feet up in 3.5 miles. We weren’t ready for that sort of climb. We opted to drive up as far a car can go on the precipitous Meadows Lane forest service road.
As we drove out of Lynchburg, we drove past green farm fields, leafy trees, and a few of my evergreen favorites: the red cedar and magnolia. The green of spring only went half way up the mountains. Driving up the ravine beside the South Fork of the Tye River, we passed blooming dogwood and red bud trees. Grapevines thicker than any we see in New Hampshire hung from the trees. Sadly, we kept climbing up to where the dogwood weren’t blooming yet. Once on the gravel forest service road, I glimpsed white trillium, a couple red trillium, and some Dutchman’s breeches. We drove above these flowers too and back into winter. Or at least the plants thought it was winter. It was almost 90F, no breeze, and blazing sun without a shadow in sight.
I have hiked all 88 miles of the AT maintained by the NBATC, so I should have recognized the trail. The sections blend together. The only part I particularly remember is the top of the steep forest service road. I’ll be interested to hear how my parents new camper trailer works on roads like Meadows Lane. We saw one group of through hikers: two twenty something guys striding along, and a fifty something dad red and sweating behind. The sudden heat wave wasn’t to his liking. Nor was it to Isaac’s. Living up north as we do, and the sports we like, we spend most of our time managing cold. Isaac was unsure what to do with the relentless heat and sun. He was sure Tyson would have spontaneously ignited and turned into a pile of ash had he come on the hike.
My parents and I spotted bloodroot flowers and violets. I also saw a pileated woodpecker flying ahead of us. The false hellebore and cow parsnip were just coming out. I found a giant cow parsnip stalk from last year. It was more than twice as tall as Isaac. Carrying the stalk also doubled Isaac’s speed. He finally really cheered up when we got to the shelter. There we ate lunch. We chatted with the through hikers (who weren’t staying and thus weren’t concerned about the privy getting closed). And Isaac dunked his head in cold water from the spring.
Given we were almost at the top, we continued up the hill a short way to see the view. The Blue Ridge lived up to its name of being blue and hazy.