One day last week I actually rushed home from work to watch the local news. Sounds a little nerdy, I know, but all throughout the day on social media I followed the plans for a live broadcast to take place from a most unusual yet very special place. Not only does the Appalachian Trail run through the Roanoke Valley, the place that is purported to be the single most photographed spot on the trail is in our region. It's locally famous since every youth group, scout troop, class field trip or outdoor-loving family has made the journey there at some time. Once you have been there and been struck by its beauty, it becomes a special place in your heart. The spot is called McAfee Knob. Personally, I have been there at least 15 times and look forward to going again and again.
A meteorologist from WDBJ in Roanoke hiked the 3.5 mile stretch of trail to be set-up and ready for a live broadcast on the evening news. I would describe the hike as moderate in difficulty as it climbs over 1000 vertical feet from the trailhead to the summit. So, you can see why it is a bold choice for a live report. When the weather is good, the view is spectacular for 270 degrees. Most of the view is untouched wilderness with an occasional farmhouse in the distance. If you walk along the rocky outcropping beyond where most hikers sit and rest, you can look down on the City of Roanoke. The secluded location, the rock formations and the views combine to make McAfee Knob one of the Roanoke Valley's greatest treasures. That’s why I consider it good news that a local TV station chose to broadcast from the knob, giving it wide exposure to their viewers and beyond thanks to the internet. It’s also good news that there are many dedicated volunteers in the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club who take such good care of the trail. But wait, there’s even more good news. The broadcast gave me a great idea. Where can I get an intern to carry my pack?