Learning to Share

Such a great plan.  We leave early in the morning, 8:30 a.m. (hey that’s early if you’re retired).  It’s a weekday, school is in session, people are at work.  Perfect time to hike the most popular spot in the area, right?  Then why was the parking lot already full when we arrived at 9:30?  Time to learn to share. (sigh)

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My enthusiastic companions today! 

Did I really just complain about having to share a trail?  I apologize!  I’m thrilled so many folks love hiking as much as I do.  And it really wasn’t that bad, except when an older couple passed us and the woman told us that we were the first group they had passed all day, having previously been the ones to get passed.  Folks, that is NOT a compliment!

Oh well, it was an incredible day for hiking.  Crisp blue sky, dancing clouds, good friends, and we could not have asked for better weather.

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McAfee’s Knob is the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.  Today, I got to introduce it to two newbies (and one who hadn’t been there for many years).

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Yup, that’s the money shot.

October is a tough month for some dear friends of mine.  Two years ago they lost their youngest son to a sudden illness.  I usually wear his remembrance bracelet when I am hiking.  The bracelet says “be outrageous, be strong, be you.”  I especially think of Sawyer when I’m on a high cliff or crossing a difficult creek.  He was a fearless, spirited young boy who left this world way to soon.  This one is for you my young friend.

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On the way down, we encountered a little guy that I really didn’t want to share the trail with. . .

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But since there were 4 of us and only one of him, I think we could have taken him if necessary.

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All around great day, thanks to my warriors for joining me on this really fun hike!

The Family That Hikes Together. . .

This weekend, my daughter planned an incredible get away/hiking adventure.  Tucked away in the Tennessee/North Carolina border, we stayed just outside the little town of Roan Mountain.  She found us an Indian themed cabin, that was cozy if not just a little over the top.

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This was my actual bed.

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We gave the kids the queen room since they brought their dog, and JG slept on his inflatable on the kitchen floor.  It was way more comfortable than it looks.

Anyway, on Saturday morning, she took us to a section of the Appalachian Trail that was a view seekers paradise.  If you have hiked the AT, you may know this spot – it was quite popular on this crisp September morning.

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The hike starts off on an easy trail through the forest. . .

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and brings you out onto the first of three bald knobs.

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It just gets better from here.  If every hike had this many views, I would never stay home.IMG_20180922_092857IMG_20180922_093028

But the most fun for me, was hiking with family.  We don’t get to do this very often and even though the kids go much faster than we do (and end up waiting on us) I think they enjoyed showing us this part of the AT that was new to us.

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Grand dog Stark, had a good time as well.  He can’t believe how high up he is.

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On the return trip, the clouds were moving in, but we did not get any rain.  I was so taken with the ridges and how they interacted with the sky – what a fantastic setting.

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We were all pooped by the time we returned to the cabin, especially Stark.  We had a quiet evening in.  This morning we had breakfast together and then parted ways.  I mentioned to JG that if he wanted to pull over for a quick hike on the way home, I did have a clean hiking outfit.

He took me up on it, and we stopped for a short loop at Grayson Highlands, where autumn has arrived a little earlier than the rest of the state.

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What a perfect end to a perfect weekend.

Taking back roads home, I took this shot as it looked like we were driving into a major storm.  Turns out we just got the tail end of it.

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I love that our family enjoys these adventures together.  What fun things do you like to do with family?

From Fungi to Webs

Last week I was all about the funky fungi.  Today’s hike in the mist of the foggy morning, was filled with the most striking spider webs.  I could not resist stopping, to try and capture their images to share with you.

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On a part of the Appalachian Trail that offered no mountain view, it was fun to just enjoy the trail and the natural surroundings.

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An annual Father/Daughter camping trip between JG and our one and only, was moved to a cabin due to the weather, so I got to join in for part of the trip.  (I don’t camp, but I do cabin.)  They had their bonding time on Friday, hiked all day Saturday and I joined them Saturday night and got to do a small hike with them this morning.  It was so fun to be in the woods with these two.

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Looks like hiking in rain/drizzle/fog/mist, is becoming a regular thing.  No problem!

 

Sunday, Funday

Most of our Sundays are spent exploring.  We love finding back roads and getting lost.  Often times we are on a mission to find trail heads, or maybe just looking for interesting roadside attractions, like this one that we found this morning.

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Today, we were looking for an AT (Appalachian Trail) entrance for a hike to Kelly’s Knob.  We also came prepared to hike said trail, having read that it was an easy 4 mile out and back with just 500 ft. elevation gain.  What they failed to mention, was that that 500 ft. gain happens all at once!

Up, and up, and up, we went, until it finally leveled off and gave us some relief.  We met a lot of AT hikers, it’s about that time that through hikers are reaching Virginia.  After about an hour we reached our destination.

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The view was mostly blocked by the trees, but we got a glimpse of the ridges beyond.

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And a solid place for a rest and a snack.

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I was intrigued by this tree, it had a haunted quality to it.

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And the flowers were quite special.

Good hike, no snakes, perfect weather, and I feel great!  Dare I say (i’m back)?  Don’t want to jinx it.

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How do you spend your Sundays?

Completing the Triple Crown

No, this isn’t about horse racing.  If you have hiked the Appalachian Trail, or live in Southwest Virginia, you know that the Triple Crown refers to  3 popular hikes on the AT.  McAfee’s Knob – by far the most popular and most photographed spot on the AT – it even appeared in the movie “A Walk in the Woods.”  The second one is Dragon’s Tooth, the tough hike that I finally completed earlier in the Spring.  Finally, the lesser talked about, but gaining in popularity is Tinker Cliffs.

I’m proud to say, that as of yesterday, JG and I have completed all three!

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It was a beautiful day for hiking, and we got an early start with some good friends.

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But thanks to all the rain Mother Nature has dumped on us lately, it was probably one of the muddiest hikes I’ve ever been on.

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We took the Andy Layne Trail which takes you through private land, with cows and bridges and snakes!

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This little guy was sunbathing at the end of the first bridge, while I called for backup.  He eventually slithered away from the steps so we could move on.

The cliffs are spread out over about a half a mile, so there’s room for everyone to find their special nook to enjoy the incredible view.

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That’s me, living the good life.

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The rock formations were also photo worthy. . .

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As was the mountain laurel,

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and other interesting things along the way, like this tree – what??

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After returning home, our friends fixed dinner for us!  How wonderful, especially since they were just as tired as we were.  Thanks Fred and Cindy – look forward to hiking with you again.

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After 8 miles, I thought I would feel worse than I do today.  Physical Therapy is where it’s at my friends.  Have a lovely weekend!

 

Just another Saturday in the Woods

Just sharing some pictures from yesterday’s hike.  It was a crisp, cool Saturday and we just wanted to be in the woods for a little hike.  We started on the War Spur Trail behind Mountain Lake and ended up on the Appalachian Trail which took us to Wind Rock.  Due to strong winds this season and heavy snow last week, there were a lot of trees down.

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Me, posing on Wind Rock.

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You can access Wind Rock by walking about .2 miles from the parking lot entrance to the AT.  We’ve done that before.  We were parked at the entrance to the War Spur Trail and didn’t realize the AT connection was so much longer, so instead of retracing our steps, we just walked the last two miles on the road, which followed the stream.

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What started out simple, ended up much longer and more challenging.  Isn’t that kind of like life?

Happy Easter Everyone!

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When I’m 65

Yesterday, when I was only 64 – I decided a hike would be a good way to end this year of my life. The weather was perfect and JG was willing so we spent the afternoon at Read Mountain near Roanoke.  The view from Buzzard’s Rock was especially clear on this sunny day.

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Today, I turned 65!  My brother reminded me this morning that I am officially retirement age (and qualified for Medicare). Yikes! That makes me sound old!

I decided I needed a challenge to bring on this new era of my life.  For those of you who have followed me for a while, you may remember the hike that stumped me last year, Dragon’s Tooth.  Fellow hikers in the New River Valley may think I’m a wimp because kids, dogs, and people of all ages do this hike.  Plus, it was especially important to me to conquer this hike, since my daughter got engaged at the top of this mountain.

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We did not announce that we were going to attempt this again, I didn’t want to have to admit failure twice.  We managed to get much further this time – all the way to this:

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the narrow path to the left, going straight up, was the first time I thought about turning back.  It turned out, this wasn’t even the toughest portion.

At one point I stopped and told JG to go on without me – the climb was steep and narrow and I was hugging rocks and freaking out.  As he took off, I sat there thinking “Are you kidding me? He just left me here on my birthday??”  Then I started tearing up, and then I took a deep breath and decided I was not going to let this mountain defeat me again.

Guess what?  I made it!

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It’s better to be a warrior than a wimp.

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That’s JG with his Perrier (I know, seriously?)

I can now say I have hiked Dragon’s Tooth, but this is a “one and done” do not ask me to go back, because the answer will be – no thanks.

JG took the day off to spend my birthday with me – what a great present to complete this hike with the one I love!

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Hey, 65’s not so bad after all!