M.I.A.

A couple of years ago, a dear friend gave me a ten year diary for my birthday.  I was completely freaked out by it, thinking I would have to fill these pages with trivial bits of my life.  But it turned out to be a wonderful way to keep track of my hiking experiences along with other pieces of my daily routine.

Now it sits here mocking me.

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As faithful as I have been to my PT exercises, I can’t seem to get my body back to hiking quality. If my knee is feeling well, my back is out, if my back and knee are okay, my hip is out – I cannot get them to coordinate so that they all three work at once.  I’m missing my women’s hiking club and I know they are missing their leader.  Several of them are older than me and in much better shape.

This is what I should be doing right now:

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Instead I sit here having a pity party for one.

However, having just finished reading “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, I came to the realization that my life is amazing and I need to get over myself.  I have a great family, wonderful, supportive friends, and most importantly, freedom.

The mountains will be there when I’m ready – and I will be ready someday (hopefully in the not too distant future).

Please share your hiking experiences so I can enjoy your adventures!

B-day, Wedding, and the Joy of Hiking

In three short weeks, my only child is getting married!  The planning (which began 2 years ago when they got engaged) is done and everyone is ready for a June wedding!  She turned 27 last month, and yesterday came home to have a belated birthday celebration.

After a lovely dinner last night, followed by wedding chatter until midnight, we all got a good night’s sleep so we could go for a relaxing hike today.  This was the first time my daughter had been to our favorite state park – Hungry Mother.

My husband and I go to Hungry Mother several times a year, either to hike, stay in a cabin, kayak on the lake, or just enjoy the town nearby.  I was very excited to share this park with her and we had the perfect weather for it.

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We took a trail that was fairly new to me and enjoyed a fantastic view of the highest peak in the park – Molly’s Knob.

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I have been to the top of Molly’s Knob, which offers the best view in the park, but this scene is not too bad either.

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I regret that it took me so long to discover hiking, but I’m glad Lori is enjoying it at a much younger age.

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What a great way to celebrate her birthday, her upcoming wedding, and life!

Backroads, BlueGrass & Strawberries

There are many people out there who think Southwest Virginia ends at Bristol (where I 81 takes you into Tennessee).  Followers of The Crooked Road, know better.  This week we set out to see where the crooked road would take us and we were not disappointed.  Cruising on Route 58, listening to Bluegrass Junction on Sirius XM on our way to our cabin rental in the mountains, we stopped on the side of the road and bought a bucket of fresh strawberries.  Life doesn’t get any better than that.

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The best thing about being retired, is that you can go places during the week, before the holiday weekend and not have to fight crowds.  We were the only people staying in the cabins this week – although they were completely booked for the weekend ahead.  Appalachian Mountain Cabins – highly recommend them if you are in the area.

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The cabins are located just outside Natural Tunnel State Park, which is near Duffield, VA

We spent the first day hiking all over the state park – from Lover’s Leap, to the Tunnel Hike and just hiking through the woods down by the stream, it was all beautiful!  And we did not meet other hikers until we were almost done for the day.

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A beautiful park, but the next day we went to Cumberland Gap – the truer end of the state where three states meet.

The crooked road was not as crooked but the scenery was stunning.  We spent the day at the National Park – hiking and taking pictures.

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An amazing 3 night get-away,  always a wonderful adventure with my favorite hiking buddy.

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A Walk in the Woods

or:  How I Spent My Anniversary

If you saw the movie based on the book by Bill Bryson – A Walk in the Woods, you may remember the scene where Robert Redford and Nick Nolte are on top of McAfee’s Knob. This lookout on the Appalachian Trail is the most photographed spot on the whole AT.

Living in Southwest Virginia – there are two very popular hikes.  The Cascades, located in Giles County is the most popular hike, even non-hikers have been there.  It is a fairly easy 2 miles in 2 miles out, and the waterfall is stunning.  In the summer you will see people swimming and wading in the very cool water.  Couples take wine and cheese to the top and enjoy a romantic setting.  It’s where you take out of town guests when you need something to do outdoors.

For hikers – McAfee’s Knob is a must!  You can tell by the almost always full parking lot, that it is a favorite among locals as well as out of town visitors.  The view from the top is breathtaking and worth the 3.9 mile hike up the mountain.  This is where we went for our 30th anniversary hike on Sunday.  I can’t think of a better place to be, even though we have been there before.

We took some friends with us who had seen the movie and were dying to see the view.  As we walked up the not so easy. and at times very rocky, trail we all wondered how they got everyone on top of the mountain to shoot the movie.  Robert Redford probably hiked up, but we all agreed Nick Nolte must have been dropped from a helicopter.  Does anyone know?

Regardless, it was a beautiful, sunny, clear day (albeit a little windy) and we all enjoyed the fantastic view.

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After 30 years of marriage, my guy knows that I don’t need flowers, jewelry, candy or cards, just give me a good view from a mountain top!

Before the Rain

You know how it goes, you have plans for the weekend and then Mother Nature promises cloudy days and rain.  So, do you take a chance and see if you can beat the weather clock?  Absolutely!

We had planned to walk the next leg of the New River Trail this morning, but the weather was calling for rain and when we got up it was cool and cloudy and a few drops were already in the air.  However, the weather channel said the rain wouldn’t be here until late afternoon, so we went for it.  And so glad we did, because we got in 6 miles of the trail (walking from Allisonia to Draper) before the rain started. . . just barely.  Even though we didn’t get a downpour, there was definitely enough precipitation to have made the walk uncomfortable if it had started any sooner.

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A couple of very friendly dogs, got us started on today’s journey – they walked with us for the first mile.

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Even though it was a cloudy day, the greenery on the trail was beautiful.

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Hubby, looking relaxed. . .

Me, patiently waiting for him.

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No idea what this is, but it was unusual, so picture worthy.

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Here Comes the Sun. . .

And with it a wonderful weekend outdoors!

I’m a hiker, a power walker, a leisure walker – but never a runner.  This is mostly due to my knees, but also because running never brought me joy.  So whenever I enter a 5K – which I do at least once a year, I’m mostly going to be walking.  Hubby talked me into doing a fundraiser this past weekend. It was for a free clinic and his students had asked him to participate.  Saturday was beautiful, and we enjoyed the walk, finishing somewhere in the middle.  But the best part was that we did it together, and when we got to the end, we aligned ourselves to cross the finish line together.

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Sunday was equally beautiful weather, and surprisingly we were both up for a hike.  A friend told me about a waterfall nearby that was supposed to be an easy hike – 3 miles round trip and the only thing was you had to cross a creek a couple of times. Since it was close and we had talked about going there in the past, we decided to give it a try.

First of all, the hike might have only been 3 miles, but it was at least another mile walking on a gravel road to get to the trail – so there’s 5 miles.  The first stream crossing was pretty easy.  The second one gave me pause.  But the third one had me standing on a rock for quite a while as hubby encouraged me across.  Considering how challenging it was, I felt lucky that only one foot got wet.

But as usual – once we got to the waterfall, it was all forgotten and we just enjoyed the beauty that seems to be so prevalent here in Southwest Virginia.

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Here’s hoping Mother Nature is finished fooling around and will let Spring stay a while.