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!

Sunny Sunday on the AT

After enduring a couple of brutally windy March days (in like a lion), we took advantage of the sunny, crisp Sunday and headed out on the Appalachian Trail towards Hay Rock/Carvin Cove.  The 8 mile round trip is a really beautiful hike.  Once you climb the 1640 feet elevation gain, you are mostly on a ridge.  There are several overlooks along the way.  With the sky as blue as could be, we got some good shots.

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There were definitely some obstacles due to recent winds.  We found ourselves climbing over, under, around and through.

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But we made our way to the Hay Rock in just under 3 hours, with a few stops along the way.

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Not sure how JG got these birds to pose for him.

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After all the short hikes I’ve done lately, this one really taxed my body.  Going down is always more painful.  But, spending time with the one I love in the beautiful outdoors, made it all worthwhile.

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Spring came early!

When Mother Nature gifts you with a perfect Spring day in the middle of February, you have to jump on it.  And that’s just what my Wandering Divas did yesterday.

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I’ve been putting off the hike to Angels Rest on the Appalachian Trail, until I was sure we were ready.  This is a challenging climb – 1.7 miles with an elevation gain of 2000 ft.  It is not for novices.

It’s for warriors!

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After an exhausting climb, you just want to celebrate.  It took us two hours to get to the top.

But it was worth it, as usual.

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Just so you know where you are, this little angel serves as a reminder.

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The best views come a little further down the path at a place called Wilburn Valley Overlook.  We took off in two groups to experience this view.  In hindsight, it’s probably better if the whole group sticks together, because as three of us were just about to reach the site, the other group phoned to see which direction to go at the fork.  We had completely missed the fork and were convinced that we had also missed the overlook.  So we told them to stay put and we walked back to them.  Oops!  We had not missed the overlook, but by the time we caught up with each other, it was 3:30 p.m.  Knowing how long it took to hike up, we decided we best get ourselves back down before the sun went behind the mountain.  We arrived back at the car right at 5:00.  Exhausted, exhilarated, and proud of our accomplishment, we rode home planning our next hike.

 

From Trails to Streets

Thanks to social media, word spreads quickly.  You share pictures and a friend of a friend sees them and wants in.  This is the case with my women’s hiking group, A.K.A. The Wandering Diva Striders.  This week I met two new women who joined me and another relative newbie for a quick in and out on the Appalachian Trail.

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That’s Sharon, Jan, me, and Ruth!

We started on Wilderness Road in Bland County and hiked North toward Dismal Falls.  There was snow on the ground, clear blue sky, and though it started out a little cool, the temps warmed up considerably before the hike was over.

We met two lone, through hikers, who were coming from the North – much respect to them for hiking the AT this time of year.  They must have some very cold nights.  Neither of them seemed to want to chat, so we just had to imagine their stories.

Thanks to Jan for this awesome shot of the blue sky.  She was breaking in her new (and first) smartphone.  Looks like a pretty decent camera.

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It was fun hiking with new people and getting to know each other.  One thing we all share is our love of being out in nature.  It always amazes me how many women love to hike.

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Having a lot of names on my list, means I can usually find 2 or 3 who are available at any given time.

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A connector trail led us to the falls.

And they were beautiful!

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If you are not a hiker, you can drive to the falls and view them from the other side.  In fact JG and I had done that on Monday.  It does offer a remarkable view.

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No matter what time of year, or how you get there, these falls are worth a visit!

To top off the week, my feminist husband took me to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Women’s March.  It was an incredible day, filled with energy and hope.

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Though nowhere near the crowd from last year, thousands turned out and there were some very inspiring speakers, including Virginia’s Senator Tim Kaine.

What a week!  From the trails to the streets, from winter cold and snow, to spring like temps, this year is off to a great start!

Thanks for visiting!