Happy Reunion

Tucked away in hills of Southwest Virgina, is a little gem hike known as The Channels.  This was my third trip out there, but a first time adventure for my Weekday Warriors.

IMG_20180823_100836

We have not hiked together all summer.  We took the summer off because of travels, heat, and bugs.  But now the fall weather has arrived and we had the most incredible day!  Blue skies, good friends, and the most amazing rock formations.

The Channels are 400 million year old sandstone outcroppings.  It’s probably best if I just show you.

IMG_20180823_122429IMG_20180823_123437IMG_20180823_122735IMG_20180823_123628IMG_20180823_124600IMG_20180823_124212

When you arrive at the top of the trail, you only need look for the signature fire tower to know you are heading in the right direction.

IMG_20180823_130548IMG_20180823_121806

Not everyone is aware that there is a fantastic view and a chance to stand on top of another group of rock formations, just to the left of the main hike.  We were happy to have this spot to ourselves while we enjoyed lunch together in the sun.

IMG_20180823_114426

There’s also a bit of a view if you are willing to climb up a sandy and somewhat slippery boulder.

IMG_20180823_130314

It’s always fun to take hikers to a place I’ve been before.  I get to see it anew through them.  We spent an hour exploring everything, it was a full day, and we all went home tired, but happy.

img_20180823_130324.jpg

I’m just glad to be back out on the trails with my hiking buddies.  They are the best!!

 

New Discovery

Sometimes, being the leader of a group can present some challenges.  Last year I was encouraged to start a hiking group for women.  Beginning with just a few friends, my list has grown to about 16 names as more women hear about the group and want to be included.  Not everyone on the list has been able to hike, but that is the beauty of having such a list.  Having the company of one or two others, prevents me from getting lost in the wilderness (have I mentioned I am a terrible map reader?)

One of the challenges I face, is where to go.  Where we go is determined by who is coming with me.  There are some places that I am comfortable going with just one other person. But sometimes, when I know it is a trail with not much traffic, I like to have more bodies. Or if someone has just hiked a trail with me, I look for some place they haven’t been.

If I’m going to a new place, I try to research it as much as possible ahead of time, looking at maps (which is usually Greek to me) and trying to determine how best not to get lost.

Today I lucked out on two fronts.  First, after starting with five women who expressed an interest, and ending up with two who could actually go, we went to one of those places where we were about the only ones on the trail.  There was one other car in the parking lot, but we didn’t see anyone on the trails.

And, secondly, I discovered a new place to hike!   A place I had never heard of, until I saw it on Facebook under: “10 hikes you didn’t know existed.”

Less than an hour away from home, we were treated to a splendid hike that rendered . . .009

some spectacular waterfalls,

018

015

a dam,

014

greenery,

007

a slightly scary bridge,

010

and one show off!

020

Mill Creek Trails just on the edge of Narrows, VA proved to be a wonderful discovery. There are several trails with all levels of difficulty.  So of course we must go back.

006

And these brave ladies trusted me to take them to a place I had never been.

Let the fall hiking begin!

GOAL!!

It may have taken all summer, but yesterday we achieved our goal of hiking the entire (57.7 miles) New River Trail!

DSCN4288

Some people can bike it in a day, some can hike it in a day or two, but for a couple of seniors – one with a bum knee and one with a bum shoulder – we were pretty proud to have accomplished this goal.  And to make it even better, the weather yesterday was outstanding!  75 degrees, sunshine, low humidity, who could ask for more?

004

The final leg took us to the trail end (or beginning, depending on where you live) in Galax, VA at mile marker 51.

DSCN4258

DSCN4255

Now that we have hiked the entire trail, we both agreed that our favorite stretch was from the junction where the trail splits off, to either Galax or Fries.  Both had the closest proximity to the river and offered some of these splendid sites.

DSCN4234DSCN4242DSCN4252DSCN4266DSCN4265DSCN4283

Today’s trip was about 10 miles.  Adding to the challenge, I woke up with knee issues and had to wear my knee brace. We discovered that when you know you are going to walk a certain distance, your mind doesn’t let you get tired until you know you are close to the end.  Whether it is 5 miles, 10 miles or more, your body adapts to what the mind tells it. So the aches and pains didn’t become noticeable until we were about 2 miles from the end.

However, we were treated to a wonderful surprise that made us forget those issues for a moment.  We could hear rushing water up ahead and were delighted to discover this stunning waterfall!

DSCN4276DSCN4279

In order to get the perfect shot – JG walked down a path and climbed on a couple of rocks.

009

Being a holiday weekend, the trail was filled with bikers – making it a little noisier than what we’ve been used to; since we normally go early on Sunday mornings.  But we were happy to see the trail being enjoyed by college students and families and plenty of seniors like us.

A quick summary of this trail.  Our favorite restaurant on the trail is located inside the Draper Mercantile – The Blue Door Cafe.  The service is not always the best, but the food is usually worth the wait.  The bike shop next door is a great stop too if you are a hiker or a biker.

Even though we may have found the last portion the most picturesque, the leg from Pulaski to Draper offers some interesting sites like the Ghost Train.

018

019

Each section had its own uniqueness and there were just a couple of spots that we thought were a little boring.

However,

Three tunnels and many bridges, lots of nature, enjoying the flow of the river, the peacefulness of hiking early morning, being outdoors with your favorite hiking partner, and going 57.7 miles and only seeing one snake? Priceless!!

005

 

006

Such a wonderful resource, please come enjoy it with me sometime!

DSCN4232

 

A Mountain of Fun

So very happy that hiking weather is back!  And so were my friends yesterday.

002

The four of us set off early and had the whole mountain to ourselves.  It was sunny, low humidity, perfect day for hiking.

Everything is still green and lush, thanks to a hearty rainfall this month, the moss was still a little damp.

005

We had a nice clear view of Roanoke.

003

Here I am sitting on Buzzard’s Rock.

IMG_1292

This was a pleasant hike except for a couple of steep areas, and it was so peaceful – an advantage to being able to hike on a weekday when everyone is back in school.

We even saw a couple of buzzards.  If you look right in the middle of the picture, you should be able to spot one.

015

I think the highest mountain in this range is McAfee’s Knob, and to the right, half way down you can spot Carvins Cove.  I’m starting to get the hang of this local geography.

014

About 5.5 miles, just about 4 hours and lots of good conversation had us still smiling as we were pulling out of the parking area.

017

How are you taking advantage of this fantastic weather??

 

 

Lonely Boots

Now that I’ve been hiking for a few years, I realized my mistake in not buying “over the ankle” boots.  My husband and daughter both warned me that I would need them to keep my balance and prevent ankle twists – but I just wanted a simple, light weight boot.  Well, I finally had to admit they were right.  Some of the rocks we have had to maneuver can be a little tricky.

So last week I bought some super cool boots. . .

015

For a full boot, they are really light weight and I can’t wait to wear them in the woods.

Alas.

First it was the bears, then the heat, and now the rain has set in.

272

So my lonely boots will have to wait patiently until all conditions are in place again.

018

Hopefully, that won’t be too long.  The mountains are calling.

Early Morning Mist

Continuing with our goal to walk the New River Trail in sections this summer, we sat down Saturday and tried to map out the rest of our walks.  Finding access points to get on the trail was tricky since the map we have is from ’93 when the trail was not yet completed.

We decided to scope out the access points, so hopped in the car and headed South.  I thought we had explored all the back roads in Southwest Virginia but I was wrong.  We tried trusting the car’s GPS, but instinct made us turn the opposite direction and after being lost and confused, we were thrilled when we finally came upon a familiar road. We did accomplish our goal of locating starting points.

Sunday, we went back to Byllesby Dam, which we found the night before and walked to Ivanhoe (5 1/2 miles).

DSCN3851

Probably a good thing it was a short day – we started out early to get the hike in between rain showers.  Although my hubby says anyone can hike in nice weather, and we should really hike in rain and fog once in a while.

We reached the trail at about 8:30 and here are some things I learned about hiking so early in the morning:

a) You are the first to go through the spider webs – ugh!

b) You have the trial to yourself – yay.

c) Hiking when the fog hasn’t lifted and the humidity is high, makes for achy knees.

d) You are the first to discover what appears to be bear scat?  Can anyone confirm?

Mystery scat?

DSCN3854.JPG

Got a nice peek at the New River between the trees.

DSCN3861

Buck Dam had roosting Vultures, looking for breakfast.

DSCN3866

This sign was almost hidden.

 

DSCN3858

We saw a lot of signs from horses along the trail.

DSCN3873

This leg of the trail showed more horse activity than usual. And why do we make people pick up after their dogs, but not their horses?  Because it was a cloudy, muggy day, the horse smell was at its worst.

DSCN3878

Just as we approached Ivanhoe, we came upon a campsite filled with horse trailers and campers. This is a tiny representation of the massive invasion of horses and campers. Turns out there was a horse show this weekend.  That explains it.

DSCN3877

Sorry for the “poo” pictures, but it seemed to be the theme of the day.

A Lovely Distraction

A week from now it will be over, but I know it is going to be an amazing weekend watching my only child get married.  Today, I surrounded myself with good friends for a much needed distraction and to help me celebrate the week before the big day.

It started with a hike (surprise, surprise) to a place I had not been before, Carvin’s Cove.

13433222_10209259212855019_9220435538774681889_o

Hiking with the wedding photographer guaranteed a couple of good pictures!

13483130_10209259214495060_6774253077760487820_o

We got an early start and the weather was perfect.  Did not see any bears even though there had been a 500 pound black bear in the parking lot last weekend.  A bear that was not afraid of people.  As we arrived we were told that we had just missed seeing the bear by about 30 minutes.  We were fascinated by this until we heard the same story upon our return and realized they were feeding this line to everyone.

The first point of interest (according to the information desk) was a tunnel.  We had no idea what to expect from this tunnel – would we walk through it?  How long was it?  Well, it was slightly underwhelming. . .

031

Seriously??

We were also looking for an illusive School House that never appeared – even though it was clearly marked on the map and we were on the “School House Trail.”  Thanks to some mountain bikers, we learned it is not really there anymore.  If they hadn’t come along, we might still be looking for that structure.

No worries, it was still so beautiful walking along the lake.

030

And how fun to be hiking with friends.  I think we logged about 8 miles.

034

With hubby visiting our daughter for Father’s Day Weekend, I really needed a distraction.  The hike was a good way to fill my day, and these lovely ladies showed up to help me enjoy a relaxing evening on my porch.

039

Going to be an eventful week – I think I’m ready for it now.  Thanks dear friends.