Appalachian Trail: Thornton Gap to Corbin Cabin Cutoff, Shenandoah NP

Today, “Black Friday,” Karen and I joined the REI challenge and opted for outside. The weather, in the 50s, with scattered clouds, made this easy. It was a beautiful day to be outside, and the cool air was perfect for hiking. Well, perhaps the wind was a bit too much on the cold side, . . . but I’d be a fool to complain. (God, if you’re reading this over my shoulder, “Well done!”)

We returned to Shenandoah and resumed our southbound hike at Thornton Gap. The first three miles was all uphill, and after an hour Karen and I were both wishing we had brought quick energy food. “Should we bring some gorp?” she asked me this morning as we rushed to leave the house. “No, we only have 6.4 miles to hike,” I answered hastily, mentally relegating the mountains to obstacles of little consequence.


Most of the trail was on a ridge cut into the side of the mountain, which provided us with great views through the leafless trees. We stopped for lunch about a quarter mile north of Bird’s Nest No. 3. We saw a flat and grassy patch of earth with boulders just the right size to sit on, and with an amazing view toward the west of the park, and we couldn’t resist claiming the spot for our lunch break. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich didn’t quite meet my calorie needs, but the cup of hot coffee that followed somehow left me feeling content.


The Bird’s Nest is a very nice shelter, with a fireplace built into its northern side. Next to it are several designated tent spots and a compost privy, concerning which I have it on good authority that “It was fresher than a daisy.”

By the time that we made it to our destination, the park had become surprisingly active with visitors. We were glad to see that so many had decided to skip the madness of consumerism and, instead, opt for outside experience.

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About Birch

After much hiking in my youth (Boy Scouts, working at Grand Canyon, and Army Infantry) and a long hiatus from the trails, I picked up my trekking poles again in 2014 at the age of 53. I'm having a blast! . . . But, alas, so many trails, and so little time.

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