Group started at White Oak lot, 11AM. Berry Hollow was the backup lot but we managed to be one of the last cars to squeeze into a spot at White Oak. The nearest place to get a back country pass in Old Rag parking lot kiosk.
The hike up White Oak Canyon trail to Stoney man is fairly strenuous with a continuous elevation gain. This is a great hike to challenge Applicants to test his or her metal. Once our group of 5 ascended to the upper falls, 2 applicants had reached their hiking limits. 2 + host continued to Stony Man, the spent two headed directly to the camp site. I was a bit concerned about letting two fairly green Applicants go alone to campsite, a relatively straight shot... We all discussed the route and the decision to split the group stood.
Stony man group ascended to summit, gorgeous overlook that future Applicants will probably enjoy. At the first fork on summit trail, go left to get to summit quicker, return by same route unless just want the extra mileage.
The Stony Man group decided to see if the nearby Skyland dinning hall was open and had beer, short unplanned detour. Signage is confusing, start down road from Stony man lot, pass AT intersection on left and continue past the first intersection on right, turn right at the next intersection. Follow signs to "office", which is beside dining hall. We found out all this by going the wrong way for everything, but we saw the entire place, amphitheater sux. Dining hall: Jackpot! Bar food including a few domestic beers, liquor... plus a gift shop and coffee counter
AT passes through Skyland so when group exits dining hall, follow signs to Skyline rd South. Group continued onto campsite on other side of Skyland Resort.
Campsite has AT hut, PATC hut ($$reservable), privy, spring and several tent spaces. Prior accounts of tent spaces mentioned that they weren't flat. This is false, tent spaces are fairly flat, each can hold 1 2person or 2 1person tents. This is a good place for applicants that have yet to buy a tent, AT hut sleeps 6.
Sweet!! The 2 applicants who skipped Stony Man (and the beer and burgers) made it to the campsite... whew!
The next day we finish the route back to the cars. Only excitement was seeing a decent sized bear scramble down from high up in a tree then running off away from our group