The Final AT Series Post: One Son, Two Sons, Three Suns, and We’re Done.

As the last of in a series of posts about my experiences on the Appalachian Trail this summer, this entry attempts to capture some of the beauty my two older sons and I passed through during our recent three-day, 43-mile trek. I had the honor of seeing them discover for themselves the mental and physical challenges of the Trail, along with its distinct personality. There are numerous long-distance trails in our country, of which I’ve hiked portions of only three, but…there’s only one Appalachian Trail. I consider myself lucky to have spent ten days and just shy of 130 miles on it.

I’ll be back again next summer with the plan to hike the entire trail in sections.

Climbing crags near Mount Rogers, VA

Day One – 11.9 miles; Elevation Gain – 2,963 feet

Our adventure began the day before when we dropped off a car in Damascus and drove to a Econo Lodge to rough it for the night. (We delayed our start by one day due to lightning storms that dumped 3/4-inch of rain during the night.) After a hearty breakfast, we drove to the Route 603/Fox Creek Trailhead and set out southbound for Damascus.

The day included passing through Grayson Highlands, which is famous for its wild ponies. We were lucky that a colt drew near and allowed us to pet it.

Day Two – 16.4 miles; Elevation Gain – 1,755

The day ended at a grassy campsite where the boys threw off their packs as I snapped their picture, gently ribbing them for not setting up camp first. I never saw Elliott’s reaction until I zoomed in. Sometimes, fathers can’t win.

Nighttime brought a full moon, such that no stars shone with distinction above. We did not need headlamps after it rose.

Day Two – 16.4 miles; Elevation Gain – 1,755

Our longest day began with passing the Thomas Knob Shelter and beginning a series of ascents and descents that challenged our legs.

Day Three – 14.7; Elevation Gain – 2,348

The final day, the third sun, we hoofed it to Damascus in time for McLean to return to work the next morning.

More pictures to follow

About Malcolm W Campbell

Father. Husband. Writer. Teacher. Outdoorsperson. And something else... Forgetful?
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