Waterfalls and Vistas

Another perfect fall hiking day.  While it was a chilly start, the sun was abundant and it didn’t take long for the warm temps to settle into the forest.  My warriors were in for a treat today.

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We learned the merits of a selfie stick today, thanks to Hannah.

Starting with a popular hike that nearly everyone in the New River Valley has done – we hiked the Cascades.  With remnants from the last two hurricanes, I actually called the forest service to make sure the trails were open.  They were, and the river was gushing.

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The Cascades were at their absolute fullest and just as beautiful as always.

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But that was just the beginning.  My friends have never been beyond this point and that was something I had to remedy.  The next stop was the Upper Falls.

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The drop may not be as dramatic, but you can walk right out to the top of the falls and they are secluded enough that unless you know exactly where they are, you would not find them.  (Shhh, I’m not telling)

For me, the best was yet to come, as you know I’m all about the view.  So we had another mile and a half to get to the gem known as Barney’s Wall.

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The trail is steep at first and then levels off, so while it’s not a difficult climb, it is long (seems much longer than the mileage posted).  But, as always, worth it.

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We ate lunch, basked in the sun, and lounged long enough to appreciate the view and the fact that we were alone on this rock with only the buzzards aware of our presence.

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It wasn’t until we were almost back to the lower falls that we met another person heading up to Barney’s Wall.  Then the traffic picked up from the falls to the parking lot.  A very full day with a lot to explore, we all were happily tired on the return trip wondering where the next adventure will take us.

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Thanks for visiting today!

 

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!

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!

 

Isn’t Nature Wonderful

I always say I’m not a nature person, but today I discovered so many beautiful things as we were hiking along that I just had to keep stopping to take pictures.

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The way the sun beam was shining on the damp leaves,

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and catching the spider webs.

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Or the macaroni looking fungus,

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and the early onset of fall colors.

We had a lovely 5 1/2 hours in the Forest without meeting a single soul.  I wonder if that had something to do with the fact that we had thundershowers?

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We had some heavy rains already this week, so the dam was flowing, creek crossings were challenging, but the view was still awesome.

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We were about a third of the way down when the rain came.  This time we were prepared. After getting caught in the rain last week, we purchased some rain ponchos and got to break them in today.

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By the way, check out those fungi!!!

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Incredible, right?

Once we made it back to the car and changed into dry clothes, the sun came out.  So we decided to drive across the river to get a view of where we had just been.

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Yes, we were on the top of that mountain, right under the power line.

Here’s how I have changed since I started hiking:

  • I now appreciate nature (not the bugs, but definitely the plants)
  • I’m no longer afraid of heights (I still have great respect for them though)
  • I am no longer hesitant crossing creeks
  • After a long challenging hike, I start thinking about doing it again

And last, but far from least:

I’ve found something that JG and I both love to do, and what a great way to spend our time together!!

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Makes you all want to visit Southwest Virginia, doesn’t it?

A Hike for Everyone

The old me used to only see a great mountain view if I could drive to the top of the mountain.  Now, I am happiest when I can “earn” it by hiking to the top.  I think everyone should be able to enjoy that spectacular view, so today I found myself leading an unlikely crew, to what I consider an easy hike for the best reward around.  Of course, I’m talking about Buffalo Mountain, where I’ve been many times.  But today, my hikers included one complete novice, Liz

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Another, somewhat newbie, who has only been on one previous hike with me, Patti

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A seasoned hiker from out West, who has been looking for someone to hike with since she moved to the area, Patty

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And my longtime, faithful hiker, Peggy

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Together we enjoyed a beautiful fall day and had the top of the mountain all to ourselves!  We were mostly strangers to each other, I knew Patti and Peggy, Peggy knew Patty, none of us knew Liz.  But by the end of the day we were old friends enjoying an outing together and encouraging each other as we slowly made our way to the top.  And even though there was a little haze in the air, they all agreed that the view was remarkable,

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and that hiking, in a group, is just the best!

 

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?

Hiking Buffalo Mountain

It’s fun to see this hike from fresh eyes, enjoy LB’s blog and learn more about this fun day.

Life on the Bike and other Fab Things

Thank goodness for friends who encourage you to add fun to the calendar, and Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker makes sure that we do.

A couple years ago, Karen started a hiking club for women of all ages and hiking abilities, and while the group often ventures out during the week, Karen makes sure to plan a weekend hike several times yearly for those not retired.   In addition, she schedules the date for those hikes several weeks in advance so that we make sure to set aside the time.

“Buffalo Mountain is one of the most significant natural areas in Virginia.  The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth”.

Karen suggested that we arrive early knowing that it would not be long before the trail became crowded.  The image below is the parking area…

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