On March 13th, I took the short drive up to Bland, VA to complete the section starting at I-77 and running southbound over Brushy Mountain. It was a perfectly clear day but cool, being in the 1st half of March. Got off I-77 at Bland and took US52 up Brushy Mountain. I turned off onto the FS road and parked just after the communication tower in a small lot right off the road. The AT follows the FS road from US52 to this lot before veering off the road and going into the forest.
The trail started down following around numerous spurs that are like ribs coming out of the ridgeline of the mountain. The trail continued down a few hundred feet. The lowest spot was near where the trail crossed a cut for a single telephone wire line coming up from the valley below.
The trail climbed from this point coming near, but not cresting the ridge. The trail followed old roads and the grade wasn’t too bad. I continued to the point where I turned around on a hike with the kids last summer. From this point I followed the spur up to the ridge, following what looked like the remains of a road back up to the FS road. I then took the road back to where the car was parked. The road was an easy walk and I made very good time. I stopped part of the way back to eat lunch. This road is not very heavily traveled and I did not see one car in the 3+ miles that I followed.
I returned to the car and it was still very early. I decided to take the car down to the US 52 crossing to complete more trail. I started down, following the roads down to where the trail crosses I-77. This is all road walk, but the traffic is not bad. It was very windy in the cut where the interstate passes through the mountain. The exposed rock appeared to be all shale and was falling off the wall in flakes and chunks.
From the bridge, I turned around and climbed all the way back up to where I had parked in the morning. This is a 400 ft climb in a mile – fairly steep. I was glad to complete it and walked back down to the car at US52.