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.

 

 

 

 

Mill Creek – Part II

A couple of weeks ago I posted about our hike to Mill Creek in the town of Narrows.  We took the trails to Sentinel Point, it was a gorgeous day and we had an excellent view.  But there are other trails that we decided needed exploring as well.  So yesterday, we set off to hike Pearis Mountain.

Starting out on the Buttercup trail, it begins as a gentle incline and you can tell there was once a road there.  Don’t get too comfortable, the trail quickly becomes steep and rocky with at least 6 switchbacks as you start to climb for about 2 miles.

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And just in case you are confused if it’s still a road, there was this helpful sign.

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As I mentioned in the last post, this area is mostly known to locals – in other words the local college students have not yet discovered it.   We saw other hikers from the parking lot, but other than a father and son, we had this particular trail to ourselves.

I started out kind of sluggish yesterday, not sure why.  Perhaps I was missing the sunshine that had been promised.  I was always lagging behind JG, but he would patiently wait for me to catch up.

We caught a glimpse of Sentinel Point on the way up.

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You can see the weather was not the best.  In fact we were sprinkled on a couple of times, and as we walked the ridge on top of the mountain, the wind was quite cool.

The second trail, Mercy Branch was about 2 miles long.  It was mostly level, very soft surface but lots of overgrown vegetation. DSCN6086

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When we got to the turn around that connected us to the next trail, Rocky Ridge, we were expecting a view.  But quickly learned there were no vistas to be seen on this loop, which is probably why it is less traveled.

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So we found a couple of rocks to perch upon, and had our much needed lunch.

Rocky Ridge lived up to its name and that’s all I’m going to say about that.

On the way down I decided to focus on mushrooms.  They aren’t flowers, they aren’t weeds, but they are a very pretty part of nature.

Just one little view from the Butternut Trail.

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As you know, when I’m feeling good, I like to push myself – well, this hike provided quite a challenge to my now aching body.  It was 8 miles, 5 hours, and fairly strenuous.

But what else was I going to do on a Sunday??