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.

 

Angel’s Rest on the AT

One of the many loved hikes in our area is Angel’s Rest – located on the Appalachian Trail near Pearisburg, VA.  I have read about it, heard about it, and dreaded it for years.

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Mostly I have heard how steep it is (1500 ft. elevation gain, from the road, more if you start from the parking lot below).  But considering some of the hikes I have managed lately, I was ready to give it a try.

Early morning hiking is great, you get to see the sun beat through the blanket of fog,

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appreciate the beauty of the cobwebs,

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and enjoy the serenity of having the woods to yourselves.

I was surprised by the trail.  Being on the AT, I expected it to be much rougher.  The ascent was steep, for sure, but the trail was well traveled and not very rocky – at least in the beginning.  Of course it did become a more difficult climb as we neared the top.  Isn’t that always the way, you want to be there, you think you can’t drag your body up one more step, and then you turn a corner and see that the trail goes straight up – ugh!  From the road where we parked, it was 1.77 miles to the top.  And, a pretty nice reward awaits you when you arrive.

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Of course, most people know that there is an even better view if you are willing to walk another 1/2 mile.  Which we did; and it turned out to be a very delightful part of the hike.  At this point you are walking on top of Pearis Mountain and the trail is pretty easy going.

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The rocks provided a perfect place for a rest and a snack.021

Since we were already up there, we decided to make the most of it and followed the AT a little further just to see what was there.  Unfortunately, after about a quarter mile, the vegetation seems to take over and in places you start to wonder if the thru hikers found an alternate route.  We turned back, but later took another detour to a water source. Saw this glass angel that someone left – sorry about the quality of the photo, but felt like I needed to include it anyway.

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And then we prepared for the long hike downward.

I’m so happy to have this hike under my belt.  It was not nearly as difficult as I anticipated, but definitely one that will get your heart pumping.  As usual, the descent took a toll on knees and hips, but after a good night’s sleep, I’m feeling fine.

With the weather in the 80’s, the sun burning bright, I cannot imagine any place I would rather be than on a mountain with JG.  Five hours, over 6 miles, and another perfect day.