August 9, 2015 - Catawba, VA
After hiking the Cascades the week before we decided to go to the Eastern Divide rangers station to get a map of trails of the area and a day pass for any other trips to paid trails. They had tons of pamphlets and recommended some nearby areas for us to explore.
One in particular that we were interested in (and that had been recommended by my friend Wynsor) was McAfee Knob and Dragon's Tooth. Now the pamphlet that we got had both listed and me being over ambitious was like, 'we could totally do both in one day' - Jon being normal was like 'how about we split it up'. We chose his option. Which I much say was a great decision because of how crazy they both ended up being.
We picked Dragon's Tooth for this week's hike and the views and the climb did not disappoint.
We drove about 35 minutes from our place to a trail access off VA 311 near Catawba. Thankfully they had restrooms (albeit not flushable ones- but I'll take it). In order to access Dragon's Tooth we had to climb a trail to the Appalachian Trail. Now it was pretty rocky but not too difficult to maneuver and after about 1.5 miles we made it to the AT connection. There were campsites as this spot so we took a quick breather, had some water and stretched before taking on the next section. Now the rumors were that this part of the AT- on the way to Dragon's Tooth- was the most difficult stretch. I thought it was the most fun, if not a little terrifying. We started along the trail and all seemed fine and then suddenly we were climbing over rocks, using small ladders to get us upwards, basically bouldering up the mountain. All parts awesome!! I was a little worried about how we'd get back down but hey we were still headed up at that point!
We finally reached the top and the 'tooth' was huge!! We ran into a few AT hikers who had climbed on top and of course I wanted in on that as well because I was sure the views were awesome. So first we ate our granola bars and drank lots of liquids before trying to scramble to the top. Jon went first- his long legs were able to stabilize him to get up and onto the rocks. My legs however were not going to cut it. But! I found a place to essentially crawl into the rocks and shimmy/prop my way up to get on top! Success! I felt pretty proud of myself at that moment. Then we looked to our rights and wow what a view! It was awesome to be up there. We sat down for a few minutes and took lots of pictures before it was time to shimmy back down and make the trek back to our car.
Descending the giant rocks and ladders was much more terrifying than climbing them. But we managed and made it back to the AT campsite area. From here we had the option to take a different path back to our car so we decided to head that direction. We got more great views from the ridgeline we were walking on before descending down into the brush and finally back to the parking lot. We didn't see a ton of people that day, more when we neared the bottom, which was nice. Prefer the emptiness to crowds for hiking.
What a great hike! We'll definitely be back in the Fall to get some beautiful color shots!