Monday, October 29, 2012

Shenandoah River Canoe Trip

Trip Info:
Dates - October 27-28, 2012
Location - Shenandoah National Park (Shenandoah River)
Outfitter used -
Mileage - Day 1=10 miles, Day 2=11 miles

     This past weekend I headed North to the Shenandoah National Park for a canoe trip with a good friend of mine.  As always the trip was a blast and I had to opportunity to see things that I normally wouldn't being cooped up at home.
     Although the drive was a bit long it was actually very therapeutic. The fall colors were still hanging on to the trees so the scenery was beautiful.  Once out of the city and traveling up route 81 I reached the mountains and rolling hills of Virginia giving me a taste of what we would be spending the next couple days surrounded by.
     During the trip we were treated to quite an array of wildlife.  Although most of what we saw were different species of birds the ones we did see were anything typical.  On the menu were various ducks, water fowl, Blue Herons and a Bald Eagle.  Unfortunately I was unable to get my camera out and fired up until it had climbed into the sky, but as it took flight from the river there was no mistaking the 6 foot wingspan and white tail and head.  I felt honored to get a glimpse of something so majestic and rare in this part of the country.
     I couldn't resist setting the music in the above video to what you will hear if you watch it. :)  I hope you enjoy!!

Happy Trails!!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Return to the Appalachian Trail - Hughes Gap to 19E (Roan Mtn, TN)

     This past weekend I took my first trip back on the AT.  There were a number of emotions that ran through my head as I set foot back on a trail that I spent so much time on and had such a great time experiencing. I would be lying if I said that I didn't want to be back out there for the long haul heading to Kahtadin, but my short time spent hiking was a beautiful experience.
     Once again I started one of my favorite sections in the Southeast from Mountain Harbor B&B and Hostel.  The proprietors are wonderful people and offer accommodations, food and shuttles to various places locally.  I actually was fortunate enough to run into a wave of Southbound AT hikers while there and reminisced about the experiences we had while out hiking.
     I was dropped off at Hughes Gap which is at the base of Roan Mountain.  From here you will have a pretty good climb ascending about 2200 feet over 2.5 miles.  It's a pretty good climb, but you will be rewarded with a spectacular view from the old site of the Cloudland Hotel on a clear day.  I typically spend about an hour at this location to relax, eat a meal and enjoy the views.  I find myself wondering what it would have been like to spend a weekend at this location/hotel during its hay day.
     From here I climbed down Roan Mtn to Carvers Gap passing Roan High Knob Shelter.  The shelter is the highest on the AT and notoriously the coldest.  I have stayed here once in the past and noticed that it was infested with spiders.  It is a double decker shelter that once was used as a fire watchtower station (the tower has been removed, but you can still see the foundation blocks).
     Carvers Gap is a good starting point for hiking with ample parking, restrooms and a water source.  You will get a nice view of the balds that you are about to traverse from this location and on a clear day you will get 360 degree views from both Round Bald and Jane Bald.
     After a good day of hiking and fortunate weather I made my way to OverMountain Shelter.  It is an old barn that can house a small army.  I usually set my tent up in the clear just outside the shelter so I can get a good view of the sunrise when I wake up. As usual I was not disappointed.
     Coming out of the shelter you will have a little bit of a climb.  Although a tough way to start the morning the view back at the Shelter is amazing.  It really looks like something out of a magazine.  With the views of the valley in addition the climb will not seem quite as bad.
     Your hard work will not go in vain as you approach Little Hump and Hump Mountains.  Once again both are balds that offer 360 degree views on clear days with a good look at Grandfather Mountain in the distance.
     Once traversing the summit of Hump Mountain it will be all downhill.  I will warn you that the trail gets rocky at times and somewhat slick in icy weather so plan accordingly.
     Although the video I put together shows some of the highlights of this trip it is hard to get a true sense for the scenery and magic of nature this hike provides.  The best advice I can give is to Get Out and Hike this section of Trail for yourself!!! I assure that you will not be disappointed.

Happy Trails!!!!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Thank you and Congratulations Hill Hiker - Class of 2012 Appalachian Trail Thru Hiker

     If for some chance you followed my blog and videos through my Appalachian Trail Thru Hike attempt you may have seen a few shots of the man above.
     I first met this gentleman hiking slowly up one of the many mountains in the Smokey's just past NewFound Gap.  I remember the day I first caught him on the trail, said a friendly hello to one another and then I speed off up the trail.  That evening after setting up my tent at the shelter, doing my chores and finally sitting down to eat Hill Hiker crept into camp and sat down next to me for his dinner.  Little did I know this little chat would be just the beginning of our several hundred mile trek together.
     Recently I received a package from Hill Hiker with several pictures a short letter and a little rubber duck that I remember seeing at one of the hotels we stayed at in Roanoke, VA.
     The Letter reads:

My name is S.H.. An old man named HillHiker rescued me in Roanoke,VA.  He carried me in his backpack with a pig named Arkie and we became good friends.  HillHiker took Arkie and me out of his pack and took pictures of us from time to time.  We finished our trip in Maine atop Mt. Katahdin.  HillHiker said I should come live with you and I will have a good chance of hiking in your pack!  And HillHiker said you could change my name if you want to....HillHiker said you were a good guy, good friend and that I would enjoy living with you."

     This was by far one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received!!!  The man carried me in spirit the rest of the way after we had to split up!!! I wish I could have been on top of that mountain celebrating with him.

     Here are few of the pics he sent along with the duck:

     So CONGRATULATIONS  Hill Hiker!!!! A GREAT hiking partner and an even BETTER FRIEND!!!!

     Until our next adventure......

Monday, October 8, 2012

Been MIA for a while....

     I apologize to the few of you who may have happened upon this little place, where I rant and share tales of my adventures, for being MIA for some time now.  I have unfortunately fallen victim to whatever virus has been going around and have been out of commission for over 3 weeks now. :( I am on my second round of antibiotics so I've got my fingers crossed that this will kill whatever has taken up residence inside me.
     This situation has unfortunately kept me from my workouts of both the gym and Insanity.  I am getting anxious to get back to both as I was feeling pretty good before I became ill.  Yes the weight/fat was coming off, but more importantly the BP had dropped and my energy levels were climbing.  All good indicators that living a healthy lifestyle has great advantages. 
     I have slid a little off the wagon with the diet since being sick.  Comfort foods have been calling my name all too often.  That and the fact that football season is in full swing has put a little bump in the road - chicken wings, beer and football just seem to fit too well together :).  Once I'm back to feeling better I will start the diet back up full go.
     There are a lot of little hikes that I am looking into sometime soon since the weather has cooled off a bit here in the south.  Roan Mtn, TN is one of my favorites and would be a nice short hike to do on a clear weekend (the balds are perfect for 360 views on a clear day).  Another would be a trip to the Greyson Highlands of Virginia. This is another of my favorite southeast hikes.  On my trip through that area while attempting an AT Thru hike it was pretty cloudy/rainy so I missed out (not to worry as I've hiked that section at least a dozen times already).  Another small adventure may take me to the Foothills Trail in SC.  I have already received my guidebook and maps for it so I'm ready when I can find some takers to head out.  Then there is the conclusion of the Benton Mackaye Trail.  Not too much more to complete it so I may head out for a few shorter weekend trips to finish it off. 
     So there you have it!!  The short and skinny version anyway :). I will update my exercise stats as I am able to return to high levels of exertion and I will post videos and trail information as I head out into the woods.  Until then.....Get Out and Hike !!!!

Happy Trails