Winter Blues Destroyed

First came the snow, then the rain, then the wind. Even though that is just typical winter weather, it also brought the winter blues.  It’s not that I don’t like snow and it’s not like I don’t appreciate the rain (the wind I could do without), it’s just that winter weather keeps me from hiking.

Last Tuesday I invited my newly formed hiking club to join me at a local pizza place so we could get acquainted (not everyone had met) and enjoy some live music. It was fun getting together and dreaming about warmer days.

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Don’t they look like a fun group!

We knew it was too wet to hike in the woods, but we made tentative plans to walk a local paved trail, just to keep in shape.  Unfortunately, the wind and the low temps made us cancel even that outing.  That was Friday.

What a pleasant surprise to wake up Sunday morning not only to sunshine and warmer temps, but a fairly dry day which allowed for a wonderful hike with hubby.

It started with a delightful Sunday brunch with some of my favorite women.  The conversation turned to hiking and one person mentioned she had been to Reed Mountain in Roanoke last weekend and had a lovely hike that offered a pretty good view of the city.  As soon as I got home, I googled the area and showed my husband.  He looked it over, figured out how to get there, and said “let’s go!”  And we did.

Reed Mountain

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It was about 4 miles round trip – a little steep at times and quite a few steps that made my knees scream a little.  But definitely worth the effort and what a great way to start the week.  Since it was one of the first good hiking days, the trails were filled with families and their dogs. How fun to see everyone out enjoying the fabulous weather!

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Dirty Hiking (at Mountain Lake)

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I’m sure you’ve all seen the movie “Dirty Dancing.”  But you may or may not know that it was filmed at Mountain Lake in Virginia.  It’s about a 40 minute drive for me. Though I had been there several times (mostly for Sunday brunch), I only recently discovered the real jewel is the hiking trails.

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And of course the view. . .

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Sadly, the lake has dried up, but it’s still a beautiful hotel and they have added many outdoor activities.

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I have hiked there many times now, because you just can’t beat the breathtaking scenery.

You really have to be there on a clear day.  When my husband’s niece and nephew came to visit us from Germany – we took them up there – partly because of the movie, but also because they like to hike. It was a little foggy as we drove up, but the promise of the sunshine urged us on.  When we got to the top, all you could see was fog. We reluctantly started back down the mountain when I thought I saw a break in the clouds.  A couple of patches of blue sky encouraged us to go back up to the top only to be disappointed again!  Oh well, we got our exercise for the day.  As we drove back down, we stopped at an overlook and finally got to show them the awesome view.  Plus, there was a table set up for wine tasting!  Just a wine distributor that thought that would be a good spot to lure future customers.  He was probably right.

 

It’s All About the View

With my first hike under my belt, and the second of three knee injections, I was off to my next hiking adventure.  This time we went to North Carolina to a fabulous place called Stone Mountain.

http://www.ncparks.gov/stone-mountain-state-park

This hike was quite difficult compared to my first one, mainly because you are walking up a very steep incline and you think you will never see the end.  We passed several people on the way up who had to stop and catch their breaths.  What a great sense of accomplishment once we finally reached the top.

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And the view. . .

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You really felt like you were on top of the world.

Coming down was interesting, my husband told me we could go down a different way than we came up but there would be steps going down.  Since I have no trouble taking steps down, I eagerly agreed.   We saw some amazing things on the other side:

 

 

It seemed like we went down much deeper than what we climbed up, but I didn’t think much about it until we were at the bottom, exhausted, and I just wanted to get to the car.  I asked a woman coming from the opposite direction if we were close to the parking lot, and she said “Oh honey, I have some bad news for you – you’ve got about 350 steps to go up before reaching the parking lot.  My heart sank, I looked accusingly at my husband (who had done this hike earlier with our daughter) – What??? He said he had forgotten that part.  Sure.

We actually counted the steps as we made our way (mostly in silence) back to the car.  She was exactly right.  But we also saw some amazing things along the way and that’s what I choose to remember.

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All was forgiven as I discovered the injections had worked and I had no knee pain.  My hiking adventures had just begun and I could not wait for the next one!

Hiking Surprised Me

I used to avoid the outdoors at all costs.  I don’t like bugs and crawly things and was not too crazy about walking in the woods.  Also, having knee issues, I doubted that I could actually climb mountains.  When I had my 59th birthday, I decided to try something new. First I had to lose some weight to take pressure off my knee and then I was motivated to try hiking after looking at pictures of my husband and daughter on top of McAfee’s Knob – probably the most photographed spot on the Appalachian Trail.

That first hike hurt.  My entire body was exhausted after the almost 8 mile adventure. But the feeling I got when I finally dragged myself to the top of that mountain was worth the pain.  I did it!

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McAfee’s Knob

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It was amazing!  Since then, I have become a regular hiker and I love every new adventure.