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.

 

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From Trails to Streets

Thanks to social media, word spreads quickly.  You share pictures and a friend of a friend sees them and wants in.  This is the case with my women’s hiking group, A.K.A. The Wandering Diva Striders.  This week I met two new women who joined me and another relative newbie for a quick in and out on the Appalachian Trail.

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That’s Sharon, Jan, me, and Ruth!

We started on Wilderness Road in Bland County and hiked North toward Dismal Falls.  There was snow on the ground, clear blue sky, and though it started out a little cool, the temps warmed up considerably before the hike was over.

We met two lone, through hikers, who were coming from the North – much respect to them for hiking the AT this time of year.  They must have some very cold nights.  Neither of them seemed to want to chat, so we just had to imagine their stories.

Thanks to Jan for this awesome shot of the blue sky.  She was breaking in her new (and first) smartphone.  Looks like a pretty decent camera.

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It was fun hiking with new people and getting to know each other.  One thing we all share is our love of being out in nature.  It always amazes me how many women love to hike.

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Having a lot of names on my list, means I can usually find 2 or 3 who are available at any given time.

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A connector trail led us to the falls.

And they were beautiful!

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If you are not a hiker, you can drive to the falls and view them from the other side.  In fact JG and I had done that on Monday.  It does offer a remarkable view.

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No matter what time of year, or how you get there, these falls are worth a visit!

To top off the week, my feminist husband took me to Washington, D.C. to participate in the Women’s March.  It was an incredible day, filled with energy and hope.

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Though nowhere near the crowd from last year, thousands turned out and there were some very inspiring speakers, including Virginia’s Senator Tim Kaine.

What a week!  From the trails to the streets, from winter cold and snow, to spring like temps, this year is off to a great start!

Thanks for visiting!

 

One last hike for 2017

Today was my last women’s hike of 2017, Mother Nature was on our side.  She must have woken up in a good mood and thought “let me warm up the day for the Wandering Diva Striders.”  Sunshine, warm temps, great friends, made for a very fun December day.

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Cindy, Peggy, Hannah, Jan, Joanne

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So much enthusiasm for a “winter” hike, that we had to take two cars!  And, two pictures.

No vistas today, just a little jaunt on the Appalachian Trail, from the lower parking lot to the entrance to Angel’s Rest.

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Then a visit to the Pearis cemetery, which I wrote about in a previous post – Falling into the Woods.  In this cemetery, you will find Revolutionary soldiers buried along with Civil War veterans.

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This was a fun place to hang out and eat lunch.

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From there we walked across the US 460 bridge, so I could show them where the AT crosses.

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Everyone sees the signs on 460, but unless you see a hiker, you have no idea how the trail crosses the road.  That’s because you have to go under the highway.

By the way, we tried waving to all the cars going by and only got one person to wave back.

 

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What goes down must come back up – lots of steps.

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As I introduced everyone this morning, I realized that exercise is what brought us all together.  I used to play tennis with Jan, I met Peggy and Joanne from high energy aerobics, and Hannah from water aerobics.  Cindy has been in my life a while.  I never think of hiking as exercise, but thank goodness for exercise classes and the chance to meet such fabulous women!

Can’t wait to see where we will go in 2018!

Wishing all my blogger friends a very happy, safe, and healthy holiday!

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A Devil of a Hike

Tucked away in Rockbridge County Virginia, is a little gem known as Devil’s Marbleyard.

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That little spot in the middle that looks white – is the marble yard.

Saturday we drove to the Eastern part of the state to visit some dear friends.  I told JG I wanted to get an early start Sunday morning because the parking lot at the trail head only holds about 5 cars.  We did hit the road just before 8 a.m. and were making decent time until JG decided we should take a “shortcut.”  WARNING – always beware of shortcuts.  Said shortcut was a twisty gravel road off the Blue Ridge Parkway that managed to get my car filthy and add extra time to the drive. So by the time we arrived the lot was full,

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and we had to park on the street.

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We had a rather grand entrance to this trail and the path starts out very pleasant.

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A gradual incline makes you think, this is going to be a piece of cake!

Ha, too soon.  Once you get next to the marble yard, the trail turns rocky and steep.

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If you are into “bouldering,” this hike is your dream.  The trail stays like this for about 1/10 of a mile – but miles are not equal.  By the time you finish this section, you will swear is was much longer.

As we were halfway to the top, we ran into a colleague of JG.  He and his wife were celebrating their 29th anniversary.  Younger and faster than us, we let them go ahead, but we kept meeting up with them throughout the day which was nice.

Once we got to the top of the mountain, we thought there would be a view of the marble yard, but we had been misinformed.  They only view is from the yard itself.  No problem, we took a connector trail and headed for the AT.  Even though this added miles to the hike, it was worth it.  This trail was a little easier and much more serene, we only ran into one other person.

We also had some nice photo opportunities,

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After a while, the trail leveled off and we could easily stop for snacks.

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I must admit, the trip down almost did me in.  Imagine you have hiked six miles and the last part of your hike down includes the rock hazards.  The “devil” part of the name becomes crystal clear.

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To top it off, you discover that the only good view you will get is if you climb onto the marble yard.

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Which we did.

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Okay, it was worth it.

Of course, if you are young, you can just skip on the rocks like it’s nothing.

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Leaving this area, it was still 2 miles to the parking lot.  What I remembered as fairly easy going up, turned out to be rockier than I remembered and I thought at one point I could not go on.  JG, being my true rock, gave me the encouragement and support I need to make it back to the car.  He mentioned later that maybe we bit off a little more than we could chew.

Before we left her home, my friend gave me a chocolate bar from Germany .  She said “This will be your reward!”  Thanks, Jaime, it’s just what we needed after a hike that lasted six and a half hours, going nine and a half miles.  I slept eleven hours last night.

This morning my husband decided my trail name should be “Trooper.”  Thoughts?

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Know Your Limits

Ever since my daughter got engaged at the top of Dragon’s Tooth, it has been my desire to hike to the top.  My husband tried it once but did not make it to the very top as the last leg of the hike has you scaling rocks.

After a successful hike with my friends this week, I was determined that I could do this hike today.  Kids, dogs, parents with babies strapped to their backs, and people older than me have all managed to make this climb.

However, after I decided to do this, I read on a website that this hike makes McAfee’s Knob seem like a cakewalk (it isn’t).  This gave me pause, but I was mildly optimistic.

It was a gorgeous day and the nature along the way was worth stopping for photos.

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We had 6 or more creek crossings, some a little challenging after all the rain we’ve had recently.

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The first part of the trail, while challenging, is certainly doable.  It’s when you reach the Appalachian Trail (the last .7 miles) that it becomes quite a bit more difficult.

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This is an understatement!

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It was at this point that I was ready to give up, but after a short rest, we decided to go a little further.  We didn’t want to get this far and return without at least getting a good view.  So we soldiered on until I finally made the executive decision that I would not be able to get to the top.  By now my knee is aching, my hips are burning and all I could think of, was how bad it would be if I injured myself a week before we leave for Europe (where we plan to do a lot of hiking).  JG agreed, knowing that his previous attempt failed and he had serious doubts as to whether I should be trying it.  So this was our stopping point:

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Marked by this tree:

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Part of me wanted to cry, I did not want to admit my limitations.  But the smarter side of me was quick to recognize that I’m not 20 anymore.  It was still a very good hike – about 4 miles, and we made it through over half of the challenging part, so it wasn’t a total bust.

Have you ever found you couldn’t make it to the end of this hike, or any hike? Please share with me so I won’t feel so alone.

P.S. – who brings a boom box on a trail (blasting country music no less) – it was rude and obnoxious – next time get some headphones!!