|We All Know Where This Was Taken|
|McAfee Knob From Blue Ridge Parkway|
We arrived at the parking area just at 7:30 in the morning to find the 50-car lot was already 3/4 full. If that doesn't speak to the popularity of the hike, on the return leg of the hike, we passed easily 150 hikers going the other direction including dozens of Boy Scouts. Solitude on a weekend is non-existent on this hike.
The weather forecast was for cloudy skies with very little chance of rain so naturally it sprinkled on us for the first half of the hike and again up at the top and for about thirty minutes of the return trip. Coupled with constant blustery winds out of the west, the rain made for a chilly start to our hike.
|Early Morning to Beat the Rush|
|They Say "Moderate/Strenuous" Difficulty|
Contrast that with garishly clad paunchy weekenders staggering away under loads of way, way too much stuff in huge backpacks festooned with more stuff dangling off like Christmas ornaments. I saw one guy with a sleeping bag that must have been 20-22 liters by itself strapped to the outside of a pack also adorned with a lantern, a Jetboil, a pair of Crocs, a Spot receiver, and several other things. That pack weighed 60 lbs if it weighed anything. I saw another poor woman hauling one of the huge 75+ liter Osprey expedition packs, so new it still had creases in it, bulging at the seams, and nearly as big as she was. I'm really happy people are getting outside but when I see how miserable some of them are, I almost want to help them shake down their packs. Oh well, HYOH.
|Trying to Scare Noobs|
|Huge Vinca major Blooms|
|Escaped Money Plant, Lunaria annua|
|Why Is It Called Money Plant?|
|View South from AT Near 311|
|Cliff Stonecrop, Sedum glaucophyllum|
|Bowman's Root, Gillenia trifoliata|
|Gorgeous Azalea, Rhododendron spp.|
|Bug on Fleabane, Erigeron spp.|
|Snowbells, Likely Styrax grandifolia|
But how cool was it that on a day with so many hikers on the trail that we had our 15 minutes at the overlook by ourselves?
|View of Catawba Valley Climbing to McAfee Knob|
|At the McAfee Knob Overlook|
|The Iconic Must-Have Photo|
|From the Far Side|
|Selfie at the Overlook|
|White Fringetree, Chionanthus virginicus, at the Summit|
|Pink Lady's-slipper, Cypripedium acaule|
|Another View of a Gorgeous Orchid|
|Annie Crossing a Rock Slab|
|I Think This is Tall Milkweed, Asclepias exaltata|
|Appalachian Phacelia, Phacelia dubia|
|A Flowering Hawthorn, Crataegus spp.|
|First Mountain Laurel of the Year, Kalmia latifolia|
|Parkway Brewery, Home of Excellent Brews|
|Bar in The Parkway Warehouse|
|Random Food Truck Cheese Steak|
While we were at the brewery, a young couple told us we should visit Mill Mountain and the Roanoke Star just after we reached the Parkway. I have seen pictures of the star all my life and here was an opportunity to go see it in person, so we did. By this point in the day, the sun had started to come out and the rain had disappeared, leaving us wonderful views of Roanoke and the Roanoke Valley.
|Roanoke from Mill Mountain Overlook|
|The Happy Travelers, Post Hike|
|At the Roanoke Star|
|A Different Perspective on the Roanoke Star|
|Siberian Irises at the Star|
We continued north up the parkway to the Peaks of Otter Lodge where the final part of our week-long road trip ends in the next post.