Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

https://thomasgounley.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/the_trip1.jpg

The second half of a couple day road trip in the mountains. The first half is here.

After finishing up the ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway around 10, I drove south on I-81 for a few hours. I stopped in Roanoke briefly to wander around downtown, but otherwise headed directly to the final activity I wanted to accomplish on the trip: hiking Mt. Rogers.

I planned on hiking the next morning (Sunday), but since I arrived in the national forest at the base of the mountain around 4 pm, I opted to do a little hiking before dark. I was just planning to go out for an hour or so (I wasn’t looking to summit), however once I got going it was hard to turn around, as I was quickly above treeline and there was lots to see.

I didn’t try to hit the summit, but I got in a good 3.5 hour hike/run (the latter because I was kind of racing darkness toward the end), and summited a peak nearby to Mt. Rogers.

The next morning, Sunday, was a bit of a rude awakening, as I was incredibly sore from doing 50 miles of cycling on the parkway and over three hours of fairly rigorous hiking in one day. I opted to drive around to the other side of Mt. Rogers for the climb, since I didn’t really want to hike the same trail I had done the day before. This brought me to Grayson Highlands State Park, and I had the place pretty much to myself at 7 am when I arrived.

Although the scenery the day before had been gorgeous, coming from the state park is undoubtedly the best way up Mt. Rogers. The scenery is incredible. Unlike the rocky, lifeless peaks of New Hampshire, exposed areas in southwestern Virginia are more likely to appear as endless grassy fields.

Complete with wild ponies.

Yes, while organisms struggle to survive above 4000 feet in New Hampshire, there is a band of wild ponies that lives in the Grayson Highlands area. It’s pretty awesome to be hiking along and come across wild ponies that hardly seem to notice you exist.

The route for the day was pretty much just the Appalachian Trail, though you take a spur trail to the summit at the end, as the AT doesn’t go over it. Mt. Rogers is the highest point in the state of Virginia at 5729 feet, and is the highest state highpoint east of South Dakota without a road to its summit.

Obviously, a summit shot was obligatory.

As you can see, the summit is in the trees, so the best views of the day were on the way up and down. But there were ltos of good ones. All in all, it was about a three-hour hike round trip.

The familiar white blaze of the Appalachian Trail

A shelter along the trail

As earlier stated, I decided to take the drive to Fort Knox for my summer internship a little slowly by stopping in the mountains in western Virginia for some hiking/cycling/running.

It was a very good decision.

I left Friday morning and made the four-hour drive to Buena Vista, VA, where I hiked the Appalachian Trail up and over 4054′ Mt. Pleasant. It was a great day weather-wise and the scenery was immaculate.

There weren’t that many people out, but I did pass a southbound thru-hiker. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him, but he must have left Maine crazy early; SOBOs wouldn’t normally be passing through the area for another couple months, to say the least.

I did about four hours of hiking out-and-back, drove in to Buena Vista to scout out where I could leave my car the next morning, and then drove back into the George Washington National Forest, where I found and followed an obscure gravel path into the mountains.

About five miles later, I came across pretty much the perfect camping area, right next to this bridge.

There was on other family there, but things were pretty quiet initially. After killing the time reading by the river, I fell asleep wicked early. Around 4:30 am, I woke up and decided I didn’t really want to sleep anymore (perhaps the other family did too, as they had a raging bonfire going at that hour…), so I packed up in the dark and drove into Buena Vista, catching the sunrise along the way.

After waiting for it to become light enough, I abandoned the car in a grocery store parking lot, prepped the bike, and started cycling up to the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Easier said than done.

Getting to the Parkway from town meant cycling four miles uphill with an eight percent grade. It was probably the toughest part of the day, but that way it felt like I’d earned the views once I got up there.

I did about 20 miles out and back on the parkway. It was mostly downhill on the way out, and mostly uphill on the way back. Turned around where the parkway goes over the James River.

Traffic was quite light due to the early hour; in fact, I probably saw more cyclists than cars. The parkway is definitely something of a cycling mecca: low traffic and speed limit, even road surface, and nice descents and climbs.

Once I got back to Route 60 and got off the Parkway, it was all downhill to Buena Vista. In fact, I think I averaged 35 mph without pedaling once. Quite the exciting ride; lots of twists and turns and I was pretty much going the speed limit, so I just took the lane and cruised. Very nice.

Catching up on March/April hikes

Posted: April 24, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I guess I was a bit wary of updating this blog in the weeks leading up to the Boston Marathon, because I wondered if my lack of sufficient training would lead to an epic implosion on race day that I wouldn’t be overly interested in sharing on the internet.

The casualty of that is that I neglected to report on a number of March/April Outing Club trips. So now we get a brief post on spring activities in the grand state of New Hampshire.

1) Hiking Mt. Tom, March 24-25

I led a trip up Mt. Tom, a 4000 footer located in Crawford Notch, the weekend after spring break. It was very much still winter in the Whites, as we encountered several feet of snow the whole way up, and my feet went numb about halfway through the hike.

Nevertheless, we had some pretty solid views at the summit, and Mt. Tom gets the honor of being my first 4000 footer of 2011.

2) Nordic Skiing/Coffee Drinking, April 2-3

The next weekend I led a trip centered around drinking coffee, with a bit of Nordic skiing thrown in. We skied some of the recreational trail in Franconia Notch, and also worked in a visit to Green Mountain Coffee headquarters in Waterbury, Vermont.

3) Hiking Passaconaway/Whiteface, April 16

Two days before running the Boston Marathon, I led a trip hiking a loop over Passaconaway and Whiteface, both 4000 footers. I really enjoy the loop since it’s a nice distance (about 10 miles) that has some solid views without being overly technical. The trail is also a bit off the beaten path, and driving to it takes you on one of my favorite roads in the state (the winding and pot hole-riddled Route 113A, if you’re interested).

Here’s the summit of Mt. Whiteface:

4) Hiking the Moats, April 22-23

This weekend brought an excursion to the Moat Mountains, near North Conway. We had to turn around early and didn’t bag any summits, but it was a pleasant meander nevertheless. It also snowed the entire morning. Gotta love “spring” in the mountains of New Hampshire. (Sorry, didn’t take any pics).