Day 118 & 119 –

I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees. –Henry David Thoreau

Miles hiked Wednesday 18 Miles hiked today 17.5

Boy oh boy, when I don’t blog right away – I forget! What I do  remember of yesterday is that 70% of it was uphill.

I could see the mountains through the trees for most of the hike, but when I finally got to the top of one of the mountains – I had a great view.

I passed over some mountain tops that the views were obstructed.

This old chimney was all that was left from a cabin. What I remember most about yesterday is that I was soooo tired by the time I hit the RV.

While yesterday was all about the climb – today was all about the Highlands! The views were heavenly.

I could not stop taking pictures and none of them truly do it justice.

The clouds looked like snow. I could have sat there all day and just looked.

I climbed a couple of balds today – mountains with no trees on the top.

But from the balds you get some amazing vistas!

One thing that was different is I kept coming across these caterpillars. They were all on the trail and moving as fast as their little feet could go. I kept wondering…where are they headed. Because they were all moving! It was like there was a caterpillar convention close by.

I think I have my hiking legs back. So I will start picking up more mileage here soon.

Day 117 – Tennessee Turnabout 

“The saddest journey in the world is the one that follows a precise itinerary. Then you’re not a traveller. You’re a tourist.” Guillermo del Toro

Miles hiked zero.

Since we came back to finish this journey I have been trying to figure out how to end it. After climbing Katahdin, just coming to a town seemed a let down. Then I looked at a map and realized that if I continued hiking south one more day I would be at McAfee Knob.

McAfee Knob is probably the most photographed place on the Appalachian trail because of its wonderful view and a rock that hangs over a valley. I decided it is where I wanted to end this last part. So Hugh and I got in the RV and headed south to Tennessee to pickup where I left the trail.

I will now hike north once again and end up at McAfee Knob. It will be a fitting place to end this monumental hike.

Today was just a rest day. I will start hiking again tomorrow.

Day 116 – Feelin’ Like a Hiker Again

To climb steep hills requires a slow pace at first. – Shakespeare

Miles hiked 15.1

Fall is here! I started today at 8:45. We spent last night in a Walmart parking lot and boy did it rain. And the temperature has dropped. It was a brisk 53° when I started walking this morning. The high today is 56. The wind was blowing up a storm when I got out of the RV to start my hike. I threw on my fleeced buff and headed up the mountain.

The rocks along the trail here seem as old as time. They’re all covered with Lichen and are peppered throughout these mountains along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

After hiking about 45 minutes the trail winds past a small hill that had a side trail up to the top. I took the side trail and at the top I came across this small monument that someone had carried up here.

What an absolutely beautiful remembrance of someone. It was only about 8 x 10″ and it was sitting loosely on top of the other rocks,  but it took a lot of effort to haul that stone up the mountain. Someone was well loved.

The next picture is showing you what the trail looks like from above. I was going down some switchbacks and with the leaves mostly on the ground you could see the trail.

I felt like I finally got my hiking legs back today. The up hills were easier and the down hills less hurtful. And I didn’t have to stop and rest today.

The next picture is from on top of the mound, a grassy meadow that I walked over.

To get to the meadow you have to pass through these gates. There’s no closure, I guess cows aren’t smart enough or limber enough to get through.

I wanted to show you all this next blaze. It used to be 3 inches wide by 6 inches tall. That is the size of all blazes on the Appalachian Trail. But this tree had grown and the bark had stretched and now the blaze looks like a square.

It was a good day to be on the trail. I finished early and then Hugh and I took a side trip to go see Black Dog Salvage.

Day 115 – Blue Ridge Parkway 

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. – John Denver

Miles hiked 14.3

Started off today around 8 o’clock once again. As you can tell by the picture above, sometimes the trail is not super apparent. This doesn’t happen often, but sometimes you really have to pay attention to the white blazes.

The trail today pretty much followed along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It came out at many of the overlooks on the parkway and then meandered through the woods.

It was great weather! And I was high enough that the clouds were below me for most of the day. So no walking through fog!

As you can see from the picture below, the parkway is sometimes very very close to the trail. That black stripe is the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I enjoy the trail more when it’s farther away from the road. I had a lot of climbs today, which were good for my legs. On this last part of my journey it seems like going downhill has become harder on my knees. I must be getting old.

The overlooks all had nice vistas, although there was a haze in the air. Tomorrow I will make it into Daleville which is just north of Roanoke. We’re going to take a zero and visit some sights together.

One of the places we want to go to is Black Dog Salvage.  On the DIY network they have a TV show called The Salvage Dogs. It’s a show that both Hugh and I enjoy. So we are looking forward to visiting their store.

Day 114 – Finally Great Weather 

“I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.”-Neil Armstrong

Miles hiked 15.4

The day started out with this most perfect view! We got a very very late start. I started hiking around 10:30 AM. It was nice to have a lay in. 

Hugh drop me off at the Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway where he had picked me up. Yesterday there was no view it was a cloud of white and today – just wow. I was above the clouds.

I headed south and with about two minutes of walking under my belt, I heard a dog barking. It was incessant barking. It almost sounded frantic. I was wondering if there was a hurt dog somewhere along the trail. 

And then I saw something coming toward me at a run. Lo and behold it was a bear! I stopped and the bear ran about 20 yards in front of me crossing the trail and then up the mountain away from the dog that was barking. I wish I would’ve had my camera out, bears can run!

After the excitement with the bear, it was on to the Guillotine. I love how the trail takes you through points like the Guillotine. It’s easy to see where it got its name.

Today I had sunshine all day long. It was a great day for a walk. There were not many views along the way today, but I did not care it was great weather.

Here is another example of a giant leaf. I’m pretty sure it’s in Oak leaf. They grow them big here in Virginia.

There’s not many people on the trail right now, at least not that I’ve come across. Today I passed two people headed north who were out for section hikes. The rest of the day, it was just me and my music.

Day 113 – More Fog

Sometimes we need the fog to remind ourselves that all of life is not black and white.  – Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Miles hiked today 15.3

I started out this morning around 8 AM. I thought I was going to have a beautiful day-it did not stay beautiful for very long.

I crossed two bridges very early in my hike. The first was just a regular bridge we see all the time on the Appalachian Trail. The second was the famed James River Foot Bridge. It is the longest foot bridge on the Appalachian Trail. It crosses the James River.

I walked by some cool cliff rocks right after the bridge. I am always amazed at the number of things that grow out of the rocks. Back home we have a hard time getting grass to grow after we fertilize it, mow it and tend to it. But here on the trail things grow out of rocks-go figure.

About an hour into my hike the fog rolled in. With the fog came an off and on drizzle, that had me grabbing for my raincoat, then putting it away over and over again.

With the fogs came zero views. It makes for a long day when there’s nothing to look forward to when you’re climbing a mountain. I am definitely ready for some sunshine.

One other thing that has been tricky, are the leaves cover the rocks on the trail. There are many loose rocks under the leaves, so each foot placement can be dangerous.

I know this blog is not as uplifting as usual. But I’m sick and tired of the fog! Tomorrow the weatherman says it supposed to be partly cloudy. That means it’s also supposed to be partly sunny! I’m ready for some sunshine.

Day 112 – 8.5 hours of Walking

Miles hiked 20.8

I started around 8 AM this morning and headed South! The skies were clear and the temp was about 65-absolutely perfect hiking weather.

The biggest difference of hiking in the spring versus autumn is the falling leaves. I can honestly say they’ve made me jump a couple of times. They are absolutely beautiful to watch as they glide down to the earth.

I came across a point of interest that said the area I was walking through used to be home of freed slaves. I looked for remnants of their homes, but did not see any.

What I didn’t show you were bridges! I crossed two really cool bridges today. One was built by Boy Scouts. The other one was a suspension bridge. I always have fun crossing a suspension bridge because I like to play!

The weather was beautiful all morning long. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until noon that I started climbing. So I have no vistas to show you during the beautiful weather.

Right before I started climbing I crossed the Blue Ridge Parkway once again. Lo and behold a car pulled over and a hiker got out. It was Blackfoot! Blackfoot summitted the day before Timeless and I did. He took his mother up. We decided against summiting that day because the weather was so bad – so Blackfoot’s father gave us a ride back to where Hugh was located. It’s a small world on the Appalachian Trail.

Autumn is in full swing in Virginia right now. All the leaves are changing and it is a gorgeous place to be walking. Unfortunately for me the fog rolled in around noon. I did not get to see any of the vistas that were scheduled for this afternoon.

The fog had everything closed in.

One more thing I wanted to remark on was the size of the leaves that I am walking on. They are gigantic. I will take more pictures, but here is one that I came across. I felt like I was in Jurassic Park.

I did not take any pictures of most of the summits I went across today because it was just white fog. But this particular one had a cool tree and I liked the contrast of white and black.

Today was hard! I over did it! After sitting at home for a month I’m not in the shape that I thought I was in. So tomorrow I’m going to have an easier day.

Until then,

Day 111 – Heading South

Mountains have a way of dealing with overconfidence – Nemann Buhl

Miles hiked 18.3

I started the day in fog and drizzle. The fog continued up until the last hour of my hike. The drizzle was on and off most of the morning. Not the greatest start for the last part of this journey.

I met this little guy about an hour in. He was sitting right in the middle of the Trail- I moved him off.

Next I came across an old homestead ruin. The chimney was about the only thing left. There were some foundation stones , but not many.

The trail then passed an old graveyard. The headstones were very thin and very small. Someone had put a plaque up saying the graves belong to the Lowe family. Almost all of the writing on the headstones was unreadable.

I came upon Trival and Ozzie while they were taking a break. They remembered me from up North. They said Hugh and I gave the popsicles!

Even though it was foggy all day and misty at times, the temperature was great. Not once in the entire day was I cold. I would even go so far to say I was hot part of the time.

Unfortunately fog makes for lousy vistas!

It was not until about 3pm that it lifted and I could finally see farther than a couple hundred yards.

I met Hugh on the Blue Ridge Parkway. A gorgeous American byway! The Appalachian Trail crosses it a number of times.

To be honest – today was hard. I am paying for not staying in “Trail” shape. Tomorrow is another long day 20+ miles.

The mileage is determined by where Hugh can meet me or I would definitely be shortening my days. Alas not happening!

Tired and sore tonight.

Finishing Up!

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” ~Thomas A. Edison

As many of you know I skipped a section of the trail after we bought the RV. When I went off the trail, the people that I had been hiking with, continued on, so when I came back I jumped ahead, so I could hike with them.

Now it’s time to finish this baby! To be a “thru-hiker”, one must finish the trail within 12 months. Hugh and I are headed to Virginia. I will hike south until I finish it up.

Hugh has planned many outings for himself so don’t forget to check out his blog – She Hikes, I Drive

I start walking tomorrow!

Day 110 – KATAHDIN!

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters most, in the end. – Ernest Hemingway

Miles hiked up 5.2 (hiked down too but those miles don’t count)

Boy oh boy, am I glad I waited the extra day to some of Katahdin. Everything about today was pretty perfect. We were able to catch the shuttle to Baxter State Park at 6:30 AM.

The Penobscot Indian tribe has a special ceremony each year around Labor Day at Katahdin so the park was extremely full and we had to wait in a line to get through the park gates.

I started hiking at 7:53 AM toward the summit. Everyone had warned how hard The hike would be today. Over and over we heard this was the hardest mountain of the Appalachian trail. We were prepared!

It was not the hardest mountain on the trail.

We flew up the mountain and reach the summit in two hours and 40 minutes. Sure there were parts that were difficult but over all the hike to the summit was a great hike.

It was a small city up there.

Timeless and I hiked up and down the mountain with the Colonel (Greyeagle). I still want to be him when I grow up. He is 75 years old and has thru-hiked the AT and kept up with me. This man has fought in every war since Vietnam, I was honored to hike to the summit with him.

Last couple of weeks with Timeless have been so enjoyable for me. I got back that social part of the trail that I was missing by going to the RV every night. I absolutely loved summiting with a friend.

Girl on Fire is headed home for awhile.