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!

 

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!

Know Your Limits

Ever since my daughter got engaged at the top of Dragon’s Tooth, it has been my desire to hike to the top.  My husband tried it once but did not make it to the very top as the last leg of the hike has you scaling rocks.

After a successful hike with my friends this week, I was determined that I could do this hike today.  Kids, dogs, parents with babies strapped to their backs, and people older than me have all managed to make this climb.

However, after I decided to do this, I read on a website that this hike makes McAfee’s Knob seem like a cakewalk (it isn’t).  This gave me pause, but I was mildly optimistic.

It was a gorgeous day and the nature along the way was worth stopping for photos.

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We had 6 or more creek crossings, some a little challenging after all the rain we’ve had recently.

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The first part of the trail, while challenging, is certainly doable.  It’s when you reach the Appalachian Trail (the last .7 miles) that it becomes quite a bit more difficult.

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This is an understatement!

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It was at this point that I was ready to give up, but after a short rest, we decided to go a little further.  We didn’t want to get this far and return without at least getting a good view.  So we soldiered on until I finally made the executive decision that I would not be able to get to the top.  By now my knee is aching, my hips are burning and all I could think of, was how bad it would be if I injured myself a week before we leave for Europe (where we plan to do a lot of hiking).  JG agreed, knowing that his previous attempt failed and he had serious doubts as to whether I should be trying it.  So this was our stopping point:

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Marked by this tree:

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Part of me wanted to cry, I did not want to admit my limitations.  But the smarter side of me was quick to recognize that I’m not 20 anymore.  It was still a very good hike – about 4 miles, and we made it through over half of the challenging part, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Have you ever found you couldn’t make it to the end of this hike, or any hike? Please share with me so I won’t feel so alone.

P.S. – who brings a boom box on a trail (blasting country music no less) – it was rude and obnoxious – next time get some headphones!!