First Day Hike

For the past few years, the state parks in Virginia have been hosting a “First Day Hike” challenging people to come out and hike on January 1st.  While we have done a couple of hikes at our own Claytor Lake, we decided to start off the new year with a hike at Hungry Mother.


Located just an hour away in Marion, we decided to spend New Year’s Eve there in our favorite downtown hotel.  There a lots of fun bars/restaurants in the area, including a very nice one located in the hotel.  So off we went with thoughts of fine dining and partying without having to go outside (it was about 10 degrees).  As we pulled up in front of the hotel, we got quite a shock looking into the windows of an empty restaurant.  We discovered that 90% of the town is closed on Sunday!!!  What??!!  Okay, a normal Sunday maybe, but this was NEW YEAR’s EVE!!!

After a small tantrum and a few cuss words, we realized there was nothing we could do about it.  So instead of dressing up, we just hit the two places that were open and made the best of it.



The sun beamed in our window around 7:30 and gave us hope that it would warm up for our hike.  Ha!  Mother Nature laughed at that idea.  When we arrived at Hungry Mother, it was 14 degrees (F) -10 (C)!  The lake was frozen, snow flurries were in the air, a pretty steady wind was blowing, but we ignored it all and off we went.


This place is beautiful all year round.  Even the dead rhododendron was pretty in its own way.



The original plan was to hike the 6 mile Lake Trail, but we modified that plan for the weather and ended up doing a 2.5 mile loop combo of the Lake trail and the CCC trail.  Believe me that was plenty.

What an exhilarating way to start the new year!  I hope you all had a great “first day” too!



As the year comes to an end, I’ve been reflecting on all the wonderful things that have come from hiking.  The biggest is overcoming my fear of heights.  I cannot imagine doing this 5 years ago.


I never think of hiking as exercise, but you cannot deny the health benefits of challenging yourself on steep climbs, long distances, and being outdoors in all kinds of weather.



The biggest surprise for me, was finding so many women who love to hike, who just needed an organizer.


I’ve made many wonderful friends through hiking and through blogging about it.

My year started out rather slowly; first the vertigo, then back issues, hip issues, knee issues, my goodness, I thought I would never get back on the trail.  But thanks to PT, water aerobics, and a shot in the hip – I was able to complete 180.3 miles of hiking this year.

My goal will be set higher for 2018 – all I want for the New Year is my body to stay stable.

Happy New Year!  May 2018 bring you joy and happiness, and good health!

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.


Cindy, Peggy, Hannah, Jan, Joanne


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.


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.


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


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


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.



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

023And happy hikers!

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!


One hike, two days

It’s kind of routine now, I have the great idea for a hike.  I talk JG into said hike.  I’m excited, he tolerates.  Once we are in the woods, he comes alive and is happy that we are there.  Towards the end of the hike, he has to give me encouragement to get to the finish.  Somewhere along the way, I get tired and my legs start to feel like lead.  This was a weekend of hiking fun!

Rock Castle Gorge, located off the Blue Ridge Parkway, has been on my list of must do hikes for some time.  Knowing that it is a 10.8 mile loop and hearing that it is strenuous, only made it more appealing to me.  I think this would be a great loop to do from May to September.  However, given that it is frosty in the morning and the daylight ends quite early, I thought perhaps we should take two cars in case it proved to be too much for one November day.


Genius, that’s what that decision was.  All miles not being equal, it took us 3 hours to climb (and we literally climbed) the first 2.5 miles of the loop.  From the lower parking lot, you have a 2500 ft. elevation gain.  The biggest problem was the leaves. At times we were knee deep in them, and they hide things like rocks, tree roots and other obstacles.

Because of the leaves, and the narrowness of the trail, we found ourselves hugging the mountain as we tried to keep our balance.


So we were grateful to have that second car handy, because after 5 miles of steep and rocky terrain, we realized it was better to do this in two trips.

Even though you can drive to overlooks, the view always seems sweeter when you earn it.


So this is how we spent our Thanksgiving day, it was perfect hiking weather.  We later went to visit some friends who fed us turkey leftovers from their big family gathering. (Thanks, Cherie).

When the leaves are covering the path and it is slippery, it seems that it is easier to go uphill rather than risk sliding down.  So we went back to the parking area at the foot of the mountain – which by the way was empty on Thursday but not so on Saturday – to finish the loop by hiking upward again.


Obviously we were not the only ones with the idea for this Saturday hike.

This part of the trail follows the creek and was very scenic.



The first part starts out fairly flat for the first couple of miles, and then you begin the ascent.  You come to a section where you have to climb over some boulders – yes, it’s part of the trail!


Many creek crossings, a little steep at times, but definitely easier than the first half.


I’m sure if we had tried this in warmer weather with longer daylight hours, it would have been fine, but if you do this after the leaves have fallen, watch your step.


Enjoying the view from Rocky Knob.

We did complete the loop and I can now cross this one off my to do list.

Thanks for visiting.



Deer ? – Women 0

When you are planning a hike with a group of women, you are thinking about dates; weather; snacks; restrooms, etc.  What does not cross your mind is if it is opening day for rifle season.  Which it was.  Today.  For our hike.  Thankfully, no one shot us, but we could hear gun fire all around.

Before I tell you more about the hike, let me amuse you with the ride to the trail head.  Knowing that it was going to be a “rough” road, I asked fellow blogger Laurie ( to drive her 4 -wheel drive, big ass truck!  I don’t think anyone else in the group had a vehicle that could have made this trip.  Just to give you a preview of the road:



Even though a couple of passengers experience car sickness, we thought the trip was so funny, that we laughed most of the way up.  In fact, our distraction had us drive past our trail head the first time and forced us into the bumpiest part of the trip.


A friend had given me very specific instructions and they were spot on.  But when we arrived at the end of the road without seeing the trail, I knew something was wrong.  Had they taken down the sign?  How did we miss it??  Oh well, we decided that even if we never found it, the adventure so far had been worth it.  So, after inspecting the truck, we turned around and headed back down the road.


Laurie had so much fun driving through the “puddles” and splaying the water, that we all had to be careful getting out of the truck to avoid the mud.

Next, Beth decided to ask Google where the heck this trail was, and to our delight, Google took us right to the pullover for the trail head.  Guess what?  It was exactly as my friend had said, and the sign was there plain as day.  However, there were a couple of cars parked on the opposite side of the road, we must have been so busy inspecting them, that we totally missed seeing the sign.


As we started down the path, it was not long before a couple of hunters approached us.  Having already heard a gunshot, I asked if we were safe to hike today.  That’s when they informed us that today was the first day of rifle season.  Swell.  So I asked, “You don’t shoot women do you?”  They assured us that they were focused on their targets and we probably would not be mistaken for deer.  So we continued.

This was my 3rd trip to Barney’s Wall, but the first time from this approach.  Usually, it’s an 8 mile round trip which includes the famous local waterfall, the Cascades.  But this approach was a much shorter hike, albeit a much longer and more treacherous ride.

But we made it.


And it was so worth it.




Our fearless driver, Laurie – we decided on the trip back to the truck, that we needed to surround her, to protect her from gunfire – none of us wanted to have to drive back down that road.

Another fun outing with some fabulous women!!


Fellow hikers, Tiina, Beth, Laurie, Liz, and yours truly!


Strength in Numbers

I’m sitting here watching the rain come down and reflecting on this weeks’ adventure in the woods.  On Thursday, we had an unseasonably warm day.  So after a morning of playing bridge, I loaded up some fellow hikers and we headed to Draper Mountain.

No matter how many times I hike at a certain place, I can still get turned around if the trail isn’t marked REALLY CLEARLY!  Although we didn’t actually “get lost” this time, there were a few moments of doubt.  Even taking a picture of the map on my phone didn’t help too much.  But we managed to find our way to the top.  And the view was worth the effort.


We did not stay at the top very long though. As we were enjoying the view we noticed a group of ladybugs had taken up residence all over our bodies.  Four women running around screaming “ewww” was probably quite a site, but it wasn’t funny at the time.  As we descended  down the trail, I kept scratching and checking out my clothes.

Happy to be safely back at the car, we completed our stretches, changed our shoes and climbed in ready to go.  As I started the engine I looked up to discover the gate to the parking lot had been closed.  Seriously?!  So I got out and tried to push it open, but it didn’t budge.  Okay (after a series of obscenities) we realized someone must have pranked us, because my car was clearly visible.  It took all of us pushing against the iron gate to get it to open.  Which we finally did.

There’s a reason to hike in a group.  There is strength in numbers – literally!


My hiking pals, Peggy, Hannah, and Janet

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.”




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


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.



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.


The next entry to the woods begins here.


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.


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


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.




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.