Fourth of July Hike – Humpback Mountain

After returning from Summer Camp with the Boy Scouts, our family traveled to Charlottesville, VA to visit my wife’s mother. We had a really excellent time and really enjoyed the great seafood and steaks that my brother-in-law brought to eat. There were great whole crabs and mussels and they were prepared in a great spice boil. Very tasty!

During the long weekend, there was time to get away and hike a new section of the AT. The trail is close and my wife agreed to do a shuttle for me to allow for a longer section to be hiked. The plan for the hike was to go from the Dripping Rock parking area to Humpback Gap.

The route would take me over several rocky summits and cliffs along the ridge of Humpack Mountain that had great views on both sides of the Blue Ridge. On the first part of the ascent, I saw a nice deer that did not seem the least bit afraid of me. We took turns looking at each other, but the deer just kept right on munching. 

The trail had a lot of stones and I was wearing just a light pair of sneakers. This slowed me down quite a bit. I am going to have to remember to bring my boots next time. Also I just had a small water bottle and regretted not having my water pack to keep me hydrated.

The trail continued up and passed right on top of some nice cliffs with views toward Wintergreen. You could see the ski slopes there very clearly even in the summer. This was a nice place to rest for a few minutes. The trail finally topped out a the summit of Humpback Mountain at another rock formation. There were also some very prominent stone walls that must have at one time marked out a mountain farm or pasture area.

I continued on and reached the junction of the AT with the Humpback Rocks Trail. This was the former AT route down the mountain. I decided to follow it to see if I could find a Geocache along this trail. I passed another trail junction and continued down. After a ton of stone steps I reached the vicinity of the cache. It took me a while, but I eventually tracked down the cache. It takes some serious dedication to place some of these more remote caches and I appreciate the effort that it takes to maintain them. I started back up and only at the trail junction did I realize how far down that I had traveled.

I continued on and took the re-routed AT back down the mountain. This section was nicely graded, but really seemed to take a long time to hike down. The switchbacks really took the trail out of the way and away from the parking area at Humpback Gap. I suppose this is good to keep the trail more remote and I certainly appreciated the better routing compared to the old trail.

The final section I hiked followed the old Howardsville Turnpike and finally the AT left this old roadbed and continued on. I decided to follow the old turnpike up and to the Humpback Gap parking area to end the day.

7.7 miles hiked – 6.7 new AT miles

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