BM Maiden summit via Redoak Ridge
Originally I had planned to summit Clinch/Garden Mt at BM Maiden as an overnight but changed to a day hike. Access is via FS 222 off Va 16, west of Marion,VA. Our group of 3 headed accessed the wilderness by the jeep road that goes north off 222 toward Roaring Fork. At Roaring Fork we entered the wilderness and ascended Redoak Ridge on an old logging skid until it terminated at ~3400' elevation. We continued up the ridge toward the headwaters of Cove Prong. Even though it was the height of summer with wildflowers thigh deep, ascending was fairly easy through open hardwood forest.
Upper Cove Prong is bordered by thick Rhododendron growth and the source of the creek is a Sphagnum bog, not expected here in Va. We crossed the creek through a Rhododendron hell then hiked through more open high elevation hardwood forest with red red spruce as we made our way to BM Maiden. My last trip here was 3.5 years ago in January so the summit area looked some different. I found the trail up from Hutchinson Rock that I hiked in 2006.
I believe we found the terminus of the jeep road that ascends to this area from Thompson Valley (seen on the USGS quad near Thompson cemetary). An excellent hike into a remote area visited by few. Our hike up took 5 hours, back in 4. Though we used a GPS, we also utilized the USGS quad (Hutchinson Rock) and compass. Proficiency with all three a must as we encountered no trail. This is a rarely traveled area, as wild as one gets on the SE US.It is easy to get lost on the plateau without views and noticable land features. Descent into the wrong drainage will lead to difficulty in returning to ones vehicle.
As I have reported on the summit page, this is likely one of the most remote areas in Va. Injury along upper Cove Prong in the morass of growth on the plateau would make rescue extraordinarily difficult.