One hike, two days

It’s kind of routine now, I have the great idea for a hike.  I talk JG into said hike.  I’m excited, he tolerates.  Once we are in the woods, he comes alive and is happy that we are there.  Towards the end of the hike, he has to give me encouragement to get to the finish.  Somewhere along the way, I get tired and my legs start to feel like lead.  This was a weekend of hiking fun!

Rock Castle Gorge, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, has been on my list of must do hikes for some time.  Knowing that it is a 10.8 mile loop and hearing that it is strenuous, only made it more appealing to me.  I think this would be a great loop to do from May to September.  However, given that it is frosty in the morning and the daylight ends quite early, I thought perhaps we should take two cars in case it proved to be too much for one November day.

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Genius, that’s what that decision was.  All miles not being equal, it took us 3 hours to climb (and we literally climbed) the first 2.5 miles of the loop.  From the lower parking lot, you have a 2500 ft. elevation gain.  The biggest problem was the leaves. At times we were knee deep in them, and they hide things like rocks, tree roots and other obstacles.

Because of the leaves, and the narrowness of the trail, we found ourselves hugging the mountain as we tried to keep our balance.

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So we were grateful to have that second car handy, because after 5 miles of steep and rocky terrain, we realized it was better to do this in two trips.

Even though you can drive to overlooks, the view always seems sweeter when you earn it.

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So this is how we spent our Thanksgiving day, it was perfect hiking weather.  We later went to visit some friends who fed us turkey leftovers from their big family gathering. (Thanks, Cherie).

When the leaves are covering the path and it is slippery, it seems that it is easier to go uphill rather than risk sliding down.  So we went back to the parking area at the foot of the mountain – which by the way was empty on Thursday but not so on Saturday – to finish the loop by hiking upward again.

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Obviously we were not the only ones with the idea for this Saturday hike.

This part of the trail follows the creek and was very scenic.

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The first part starts out fairly flat for the first couple of miles, and then you begin the ascent.  You come to a section where you have to climb over some boulders – yes, it’s part of the trail!

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Many creek crossings, a little steep at times, but definitely easier than the first half.

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I’m sure if we had tried this in warmer weather with longer daylight hours, it would have been fine, but if you do this after the leaves have fallen, watch your step.

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Enjoying the view from Rocky Knob.

We did complete the loop and I can now cross this one off my to do list.

Thanks for visiting.

 

 

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Deer ? – Women 0

When you are planning a hike with a group of women, you are thinking about dates; weather; snacks; restrooms, etc.  What does not cross your mind is if it is opening day for rifle season.  Which it was.  Today.  For our hike.  Thankfully, no one shot us, but we could hear gun fire all around.

Before I tell you more about the hike, let me amuse you with the ride to the trail head.  Knowing that it was going to be a “rough” road, I asked fellow blogger Laurie (lifeonthebikeandotherfabthings.com) to drive her 4 -wheel drive, big ass truck!  I don’t think anyone else in the group had a vehicle that could have made this trip.  Just to give you a preview of the road:

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Even though a couple of passengers experience car sickness, we thought the trip was so funny, that we laughed most of the way up.  In fact, our distraction had us drive past our trail head the first time and forced us into the bumpiest part of the trip.

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A friend had given me very specific instructions and they were spot on.  But when we arrived at the end of the road without seeing the trail, I knew something was wrong.  Had they taken down the sign?  How did we miss it??  Oh well, we decided that even if we never found it, the adventure so far had been worth it.  So, after inspecting the truck, we turned around and headed back down the road.

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Laurie had so much fun driving through the “puddles” and splaying the water, that we all had to be careful getting out of the truck to avoid the mud.

Next, Beth decided to ask Google where the heck this trail was, and to our delight, Google took us right to the pullover for the trail head.  Guess what?  It was exactly as my friend had said, and the sign was there plain as day.  However, there were a couple of cars parked on the opposite side of the road, we must have been so busy inspecting them, that we totally missed seeing the sign.

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As we started down the path, it was not long before a couple of hunters approached us.  Having already heard a gunshot, I asked if we were safe to hike today.  That’s when they informed us that today was the first day of rifle season.  Swell.  So I asked, “You don’t shoot women do you?”  They assured us that they were focused on their targets and we probably would not be mistaken for deer.  So we continued.

This was my 3rd trip to Barney’s Wall, but the first time from this approach.  Usually, it’s an 8 mile round trip which includes the famous local waterfall, the Cascades.  But this approach was a much shorter hike, albeit a much longer and more treacherous ride.

But we made it.

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And it was so worth it.

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Our fearless driver, Laurie – we decided on the trip back to the truck, that we needed to surround her, to protect her from gunfire – none of us wanted to have to drive back down that road.

Another fun outing with some fabulous women!!

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Fellow hikers, Tiina, Beth, Laurie, Liz, and yours truly!

 

Strength in Numbers

I’m sitting here watching the rain come down and reflecting on this weeks’ adventure in the woods.  On Thursday, we had an unseasonably warm day.  So after a morning of playing bridge, I loaded up some fellow hikers and we headed to Draper Mountain.

No matter how many times I hike at a certain place, I can still get turned around if the trail isn’t marked REALLY CLEARLY!  Although we didn’t actually “get lost” this time, there were a few moments of doubt.  Even taking a picture of the map on my phone didn’t help too much.  But we managed to find our way to the top.  And the view was worth the effort.

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We did not stay at the top very long though. As we were enjoying the view we noticed a group of ladybugs had taken up residence all over our bodies.  Four women running around screaming “ewww” was probably quite a site, but it wasn’t funny at the time.  As we descended  down the trail, I kept scratching and checking out my clothes.

Happy to be safely back at the car, we completed our stretches, changed our shoes and climbed in ready to go.  As I started the engine I looked up to discover the gate to the parking lot had been closed.  Seriously?!  So I got out and tried to push it open, but it didn’t budge.  Okay (after a series of obscenities) we realized someone must have pranked us, because my car was clearly visible.  It took all of us pushing against the iron gate to get it to open.  Which we finally did.

There’s a reason to hike in a group.  There is strength in numbers – literally!

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My hiking pals, Peggy, Hannah, and Janet