Hiking!

Aug. 14th, 2010 09:11 pm
Today's forecast high was 83F: overcast with a chance of rain. It felt awesome most of the morning--I went to the market and then helped a friend rip out her garden.

So we headed to the mountains after lunch. The earlier rain and persistent heavy fog kept the pollen down. Temps were nice and low up there--possibly below 70F. Also, I'm glad there was only one cyclist on the parkway--the fog was pea soup most of the time.

We just hiked a bit south on the AT from Reed's Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. About .8mi to a spot that apparently has great views when it's not in the middle of a cloud. It was breezy and slightly chilly up there--I was grateful for the sweatshirt I threw in. Kiddo wanted his jacket, too. Poor manbeast finally had to admit he was cold and wanted Ronan back up in the Ergo to keep him warm.

It was nice to be able to hike. Only one spot of asthma threatened, but it was after i moved a giant spire of ragweed away from my head while trying to keep a hold on Whiskey's collar as we passed a sodden boy scout troop. Albuterol helped, fortunately. I know some folks don't like the new propellants, but the old ones triggered my reactive airways. It's nice to have asthma rescue meds.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jocelyndale/sets/72157624601090235/
We went hiking this weekend!

We chose an easy, mostly level trail. Of course, I forgot the trail guidebook which would have told me the full circuit was 3.8mi, not the 2mi it appeared to be on the map. Oops.

We started out at the South River Falls picnic area, walked downhill on the South River Falls trail until it met with the AT. We turned south on the AT, walked until it met a fire road, then turned left, and left again to get to the Saddleback Mountain Trail.

We'd walked almost a mile when we came upon a PATC trail hut. Ronan declared it snack time. Whiskey agreed.

Ronan asked about the map, so Tom explained how a map works. Ronan then had to figure out where the water goes. So Tom showed him a river on the map and they followed it.

Anyhow, Ronan walked, jumped, and ran for the better part of the first two miles. Then he had a meltdown, nursed in the woods, and fell asleep on Tom's shoulder. We managed to get him situated in the wrap for a front carry and the last mile and a half was a cinch. It's nice to meander with a toddler, but two miles at toddler speed is actually pretty tiring. So much waiting, anticipation, and frustration at realizing you have to cover just as much distance in order to get back to the car right at the point when you are *done*.

Still, he had fun. There were things to see. We touched touch-me-not, looked at mushrooms, saw bear scat, and talked about springs.
A certain poodle has been pleading for attention, claiming he is unloved and neglected.

Does this look like an unhappy dog?

We went for a drive today. Buckled the dog and baby in, crammed Tom in the backseat, gave Brandon shotgun, and we headed to the hills.

First stop was Nellysford, where the guys had barbecue. We then took 151 to 666 to 56, drove past Montebello up to the Parkway. We took the parkway south to Irish Gap, mostly to show Brandon the signpost for the spiral curve which shows a stick figure flying off a motorcycle.

Driving back north, we stopped at the Yankee Horse pullover, which is where Wigwam Falls cascades down through the hollow. Of note: cool salamander.

Tom and Ronan. Ronan seemed intrigued. Brandon and a rock. Me, in need of henna..

Tom and Brandon are going to the Dawning tonight for the In Tenebris CD release party. Ronan and I are staying here and playing games like "Boobie, boobie, who's got the boobie?" and "King of the Boobie" and "Duck, Duck, Boobie".
Jericho hasn't had a lot of crazy running time lately, so we decided to use Saturday's gorgeous weather for a hike. Off we went to SNP, which is recently reopened after the Thanksgiving Day ice storm that sheared off many, many trees.

We entered the park at Swift Run Gap and headed south, to the Ivy Creek Overlook.

You can see why we feel compelled to take Jericho hiking. He adores being in the woods. He loves it. He grins and bounds and gets super excited (you should see his "do you wanna go for a hike?" dance he does at home).

We hiked about a mile on the AT, to a little overlook we've visited before. It looks west, into the wind.

[livejournal.com profile] explodingcat managed to find a small windblock. I remained in the sun--with the full brunt of the wind. It was glorious. Jericho didn't much care for the wind and found his own windbreak. Smart dog.

Anyhow, after getting thoroughly chilled, we hiked back to the car. I bared my belly to the east . . .

We then headed southward for another eastern exposure so that we could watch the lunar eclipse. There were clouds on the horizon, so we couldn't see the moon until it hit about 15degrees or so. That was fine--it was bright red and totality was just ending. We watched for a few, then headed back home.

Asthma was mild to moderate . . . got worse as the air grew colder and drier. My center of gravity is still fairly close, though the laxity of my joints keeps me fairly cautious on the scree. I nearly turned around at the outset--fibro pain was pretty horrendous, but the smile on Jericho's face couldn't be denied, so I persevered--and succeeded! I'm glad I have such a happy dog. :)
We decided to see just how iced in Crabtree Falls was tonight. We made the drive, stopping in Nellysford so that boy could get some smoked critter from the Blue Ridge Pig. Once we got into the moutainous area of the roads, we saw lots of small-medium rocks in the road from the freeze-thaw cycle. I saw lots of ice in the woods from seeps and springs.

Anyhow, the path was completely iced over. This didn't stop Jericho from running and sliding, making my heart race. Fortunately, I discovered one advantage to carrying small/in my back--my center of gravity isn't drastically different from when I'm not pregnant. Since I don't have a huge belly in front, I'm comfortable on snowy ice, though the stuff with less traction wasn't very pleasant.

We didn't hike any further than the lowest cataract on the trail. It's just a short jaunt. We liked listening to the water rush under the ice--there was really just one small window.

Tom and Jerry were braver dumber than I was and walked down the steps to a lower platform. Tom did fall flat on his back before attempting this. Me? No thanks. I was quite comfy on the dry and ice-free bench.

We slid our way back to the car and I drove a harrowing trip across 60 feet of ice downhill/on a curve/above the river. Next time, I get to pick the parking spot and it won't be on the iced over upper tier.
We had a short, easy hike today on the AT. We hiked from the Three Ridges overlook on the parkway to Reed's Gap. It was relatively level and followed an old hogwall and other remnants of Appalachian farm life.

[livejournal.com profile] nannar got to ride along with the stinky dog, since [livejournal.com profile] nothingoth was being a lazybutt and hadn't had lunch by 2:30, when we were leaving. (Okay, we made [livejournal.com profile] explodingcat sit in back with jericho, but that's because they both drool on long car rides.)

We saw a lot of damage from the Thanksgiving ice storm (the one that didn't hit C'ville)--treetops sheared, lots of downed trees/trunks/branches.

Jericho was thrilled, as usual. He really loves hiking.

Boy took an overexposed picture of me where my belly is still not overly visible . . . I need to teach him how to work the camera so that I can actually have some decent shots. Admittedly, it's hard when the sun is as bright as it was--makes it hard to see the LCD to know how the settings are working. ;) I have to throw my belly out and lift my boobs for anything to be visible. And the stake beside me has a white AT blaze, also over-exposed.

We joke that we're section-hiking the AT . . . a dozen steps at a time. ;)

Hiking! AT

Jan. 6th, 2007 11:45 pm
It was a creepily gorgeous day, so we went to the mountains for a hike.

We parked at the Dripping Rock pullover on the Blue Ridge Parkway (most of Skyline Drive is still closed from the Thanksgiving ice storm) and headed south on the AT.

After about a half mile of treacherous downhill wet stones and leaves, we arrived at the first overlook. We looked over the Shenandoah Valley while we basked in the sun. It was awesome.

Happy me.
Happy boy.
Happy poodledog.

I had super minor asthma tightness coming back on the steepest portions, but nothing so severe as what I was experiencing a month ago. And it resolved with rest. Woohoo!
We opted for another short AT excursion today. We parked at the Ivy Creek Overlook in the southern section of SNP and headed south on the Trail for about seven tenths of a mile.

It wasn't too hard--a bit up and down, but not horrendously strenuous. Best of all--the raspberries are ripening. Mmmmm, I ate lots of tiny black raspberries. So good. We also munched on hoary mountain mint and highbush blueberries (early ripe ones!).

We eventually came to our destination--just a little rocky outcropping overlooking the Drive and Loft Mountain (not in view).

Flickr pics include common milkweed, some unidentified nodding milkweed, white bergamot, soapwort, and some weird space-alien vine fruit cluster.
After taking out the recycling, boy and I sacked out on the couch, enjoying the air conditioned respite from the 95F temps outside.

And then came the topic of hiking.

"It's hot."
"It's 5-10 degrees cooler in the mountains."
"It's still hot."
"There's a breeze."
"It's really hot."

And so forth. Finally, we decided that the air conditioned car ride to our mountain destination would be just as enjoyable as sitting at home. So then came the decision of where to hike:
[livejournal.com profile] explodingcat wanted to sit on a rock and write.
I wanted to hike.
He wanted to hike, but not too far or too hard . . . and mostly for the dog's sake.

So I hauled out one of the AT sectional maps. I suggested the Glass Hollow Overlook, he agreed, and we were off. On a crisp winter day, you can see the mountains clearly from Charlottesville. Today, they were hazy from Crozet: pale outlines silhouetted against a white sky.

We parked at Humpback Gap on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Instead of taking the death march to the Rocks (right hand path), we chose the blue-blazed trace of the Old Howardsville Turnpike. The Turnpike was a road which led over the Blue Ridge from the Shenandoah Valley (farmfields) to the James River Canal System, at Howardsville. I enjoy walking traces--there are often old walls, old ruts, and the sunken hollow of a very old path so many folks before me have traveled.

Sure enough, the woods were comfortably shady, breezy, and green. I did see evidence of drought--the spiderwort isn't faring well at all. When native flora is suffering, you know the water situation is dire.

After about 2/10 of a mile, we hit the AT. The AT South followed the road trace, but we were heading north, toward our destination. It was a pretty easy hike below the ridge of Dobie Mountain. Lots of black cohosh, snakeroot, stonecrop, and hairy goatstongue. I saw some whorled loosestrife, but neglected to get our picture.

We found our spur trail to the overlook after 8/10 of a mile and hiked down down down. Along the way, we passed some Indian Pipe, which will surely make it up on flickr in the near future. Jericho ran ahead, eager to explore.

The overlook was perfect for a hot day: Jutting out into the wind, but still shaded by trees. The rocks were reasonably flat, comfy for sitting. The ant, sweat bee, and black fly population was a bit high for my liking, but the worst of all? TINY little gnats that BIT. I had a lightweight long-sleeve shirt, though, so I was able to save my skin.

Boy wrote and I read. We watch a turkey vulture spiraling through the updrafts. We admired the trees of Glass Hollow and surrounding mountains. The Rockfish River Valley, beyond the opposite ridge, was a hazy patchwork of farms and forests.

Eventually, we decided to head back. We returned to the AT and again headed north 2/10 of a mile, to the intersection with the Dobie Mountain Trail. Turning south on that trail, we hiked for a mile back to the parking area. It was a gorgeous day for a hike in the shady coolness. I think this hike will remain a favorite, especially in winter, when the entire AT stretch should provide views of hollows and valleys.
[livejournal.com profile] explodingcat has been feeling fairly fatigued lately. Overworked, overstressed, underslept . . . so our hikes may have to be scaled down. To that end, I'm looking for more destination hikes and fewer "tramp through the woods" hikes. For a while, this will involve just picking viewpoints on the AT which aren't too far from a parking area, nor with much elevation change.

On Saturday, we went for what I consider a leg-stretcher. We parked at the northern picnic area on the Blue Ridge Parkway and hiked the spur trail to the AT. It was about a quarter mile to the AT and then another half to three-quarters of a mile to our viewpoint--cliffs on the trail.

The picnic grounds are full of old hog walls. The spur trail runs near an excellent specimen for a little bit.

Once we were on the AT, we had minimal uphill climbing, mostly just a nice walk in the woods. At one point, though, Jericho decided to leave his calling card *right in the middle* of the trail. I wasn't carrying a shovel or bags, so I stepped off the trail to grab a bunch of chestnut leaves. And then I screamed, because this is what I saw immediately under my foot, which was in the air mid-step. I'm sure I woke it up. I backed away and turned on the camera, which then got to zoooooom in: sleeping babe. I told Tom to keep an eye out for momma while I snapped a few shots, then we backed off, picked up Jerry's waste, and moved on.

When we got to our destination point, we sat for a bit, enjoying the wind. We admired the rocks, not so much for their quartzite banding as for their bird droppings.

We eventually got chilled and headed back, peeking at the fawn briefly before moving on. It was still there, cozy in the weeds.

Tom got stuck in a tree and I had to leave him in the woods. Jericho went back for him, though, and we all came home together.

jericho
Originally uploaded by jocelyndale.
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