Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 10

H Whetstone Ridge Trail
Text and photos by Leonard Adkins

The Hike

THE 11.8-MILE (ONE-WAY) HIKE IS THE ONLY ONE OFF THE BLUE RIDGE
PARKWAY TO TAKE NEARLY 10 MILES WITHOUT CROSSING A CAR ROAD.

The trail crosses a series of rocky knobs.

IT WAS STILL a few hours before
daylight and I was warm and cozy
inside my sleeping bag, knowing
that once I unzipped it I was going
to have to face the sharp slap of a
30-degree temperature outside the
tent.
Eventually I had to give in and
once I became accustomed to the
cold, my eyes wandered upward.
Orion's distinctive belt was almost
directly above, the Big Dipper was
nearing the horizon, and so many
10 | BlueRidgeCountry.com

stars were twinkling next to each
other that it seemed as if there was
little darkness between them. A couple of shooting stars with long tails
reminded me that I had read about
the peak time for the Geminid
meteor shower being just a couple
of days before. Oh, how easy it is to
forget what a grand show the night
sky can be when you live within the
brightly lit confines of a city!
Laurie and I were on an overnight
hike of the Whetstone Ridge Trail
and I hadn't really thought about
how far away it was from any city of
appreciable size. Staunton, Va., is
about 20 miles to the north and
Lexington is close to 20 miles to the
south, while there are no cities for
many miles to either the east or
west.
The trail is the only pathway
located off Virginia's portion of the
Blue Ridge Parkway that it is possible
to walk in just one direction (more or
less) for close to 10 miles and not
cross any kind of automobile-accessible road. Yes, the trail does follow
an old woods road in places, but it
has been many years since any kind
of vehicle has driven on it. There are
few vistas during the summer, yet, at
this time of year when the leaves are
off the trees, the views are almost
continuous. It makes a nice weekend
hike, since the route is on forest service property where camping is permitted. Just be aware that water
sources are practically nonexistent,
so be sure to carry plenty of fluids.
The hike began from the parking
area by paralleling the parkway
northward for several hundred feet
on a pathway that was a part of the
original route of the Appalachian
Trail during the late 1920s and early
1930s. Many miles of the AT were
displaced and had to be relocated

because much of the parkway in
Virginia was constructed directly on
top of what had been the trail's
route.
Once onto the ridgeline (named
for the fine-grained sharpening
stones it provided early mountain
settlers), it soon became obvious this
was not going to be that fabled
"nearly-level" ridge walk that is so
often rumored about in hiker circles
but rarely ever encountered.
Vigorous climbs over rocky knobs are
located throughout much of the
hike, with the most steep being
located at about 3, 7, 8, and 9 miles
into the journey. Since we had
started the hike late in the day, we
were happy to find that the ridge did
broaden some around 4 miles from
the trailhead, providing a flat spot to
pitch the tent just a few minutes
before sunset.
Shortly beyond the campsite, the
trail steeply descended into a gap,
taking it off Whetstone Ridge and
onto the South Mountain ridgeline.
Both mountains are along the southern edge of the Adams Peak
Roadless Area, 7,000 acres of land
that have been de facto wilderness
since the 2001 Roadless
Conservation Area Rule that prohibits any logging or road building
(except for firefighting). Because of
this designation, views northward
from South Mountain look upon
peaks and valleys covered by an
unbroken forest. The few farms and
houses located within the
Shenandoah Valley to the west add
to the sense of remoteness.
The Virginia Wilderness
Committee is working to have the
area declared a National Scenic Area,
a designation that would add
another level of protection for the
land. This is the same organization


http://www.BlueRidgeCountry.com

Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014

Cover
Table of Contents
From the Editor / Worth a Click
From the Farm
Digital Help Guide
Creature Feature
The Hike
Mountain Report
Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Festivals & Events
Country Roads
Sip the Best: Mountain Wines, Brews and Spirits
Experience North Georgia
Wild Ponies of the Grayson Highlands: The Photoessay
‘Favorite Restaurant in All The World’
Sadie, Ace Baseball Dog
Sleeping in the Museum (No, on Purpose! In a Bed!)
Mountain Garden
Cabin in the Woods: The Expansive Welcome of Primland
Guest Column
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Intro
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Cover1
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Cover2
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Table of Contents
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 4
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - From the Editor / Worth a Click
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - From the Farm
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 7
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Digital Help Guide
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - The Hike
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 11
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Great Home Buys in the Mountains
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 15
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 16
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 17
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 19
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Sip the Best: Mountain Wines, Brews and Spirits
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 21
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 22
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 23
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 24
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 25
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Experience North Georgia
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 27
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 28
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 29
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 30
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 31
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 32
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 33
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Wild Ponies of the Grayson Highlands: The Photoessay
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 35
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 36
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 37
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - ‘Favorite Restaurant in All The World’
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 39
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 40
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 41
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 42
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 43
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Sadie, Ace Baseball Dog
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 45
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Sleeping in the Museum (No, on Purpose! In a Bed!)
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 47
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 48
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 49
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 50
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 51
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 52
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 53
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 54
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 55
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 56
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 57
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 58
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 59
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 61
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Cabin in the Woods: The Expansive Welcome of Primland
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 63
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 64
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - 65
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Cover3
Blue Ridge County - March/April 2014 - Cover4
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