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.

 

Falling into the Woods

It’s becoming a routine Friday question for both me and JG – “Where are you hiking this weekend?”  Because of the rain in the forecast, we had not planned to hike at all.  But Saturday morning the sun came up, the rain forecast was moved to late afternoon, so what else could we do?

We agreed that checking out a new section of the AT (Appalachian Trail) might be a good idea.  So we drove to Pearisburg, parked the car and entered the woods.  Right away we discovered the George Pearis Cemetery.

According to the Daughters of the American Revolution:

George Pearis in 1779 resided and was in command of the Pearis Fort on the New River, providing refuge for settlers from hostile Indian attacks. Captain Pearis joined Major Joseph Cloyd in suppressing Tory uprisings in 1780 at Shallow Ford along the Yadkin River in North Carolina. The cemetery is the resting place of Capt. George Pearis the namesake of the town.”

 

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I’m not usually taken with cemeteries, but this one was fascinating.

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Along with the Revolutionary War graves, there are also 4 Confederate soldiers buried here.  The cemetery was within the first 10th of a mile into the hike and we decided if we were going to get in a good walk before the rain, we needed to move on.  But first, I needed to get a shot of this tree.

 

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I thought it gave the cemetery a rather spooky feel as it seemed to be keeping watch over the graves.

Shortly after returning to the AT, you must cross the New River on US 460 before coming to an underpass that takes you to the other side of the road.

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The next entry to the woods begins here.

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After the short rise from the road, the trail became a very easy walk for a couple of miles before descending into a creek bed.  It’s probably the last weekend for the fall colors, and many trees are already bare, but we did manage to capture some of what is left.

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As we got back to the bridge, the clouds were really rolling in and there were a few sprinkles in the air.

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Good sense would say it was time to call it a day, but JG had other plans.  We had about a .5 mile connector road from where we were to the entrance to Angel’s Rest and he does not like to leave that kind of a gap.  So, with a little convincing, he persuaded me to soldier on.  Of course after all the easy hiking, that last mile turned out to be quite a challenge, albeit beautiful.

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Returning to the car required rain jackets, but we did not get too wet and we were happy to be back home when the rain really let loose.

A year ago my hiking was limited by damaged body parts.  What a difference a year make, and how happy am I that I’m back out in the woods where I belong.

 

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.