dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Our weekend in the woods

I'm going to take a break from your regular programming (which has been, um, quite irregular lately) to write about our weekend.  It's not about a home project or about a DIY project, but it's about a weekend I want to remember.  And, this blog sure is a good way to keep memories around...

So, this past weekend, Colin, Piper and I and Kirk (who you may remember from our trek across country over the summer and from my one and only post with a guest blogger (glogger)) headed deep into the woods of Virginia to the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests.  These two national forests contain nearly 2 million acres of public land, almost 500 miles of hiking trails, and endless opportunities for camping.  So, on Friday afternoon we piled into the car and headed south.  The drive wasn't too bad, and in about 3 1/2 hours we were pulling into the Reed's Gap parking area just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  It was just about dusk, so we strapped on our head lamps and set off on the 1.8 mile walk to camp.
We hiked to the Maupin Field area where there was a shelter, water source, and a privy, as well as numerous camp sites.  After a quick survey of the area (and a chat with the two thru hikers who were already in their bags in the shelter), we picked our campsite and set up camp. At that point, there were two or three other campsites taken, and things were pretty quiet with people either milling around for firewood or already in their tents for the evening.  I think we were about half way through our amazingly delicious rehydrated dinners when the boy scouts arrived.  They rolled in maybe 15 deep and loud doesn't accurately describe their volume.  They were hollering and carrying on and generally ruined the mood around camp until they finally set up camp and went to sleep.  That was a major downer, but at least they went to bed early.  Or so I thought.  You know the old government saying, "First in, first out"?  Well, apparently that also applies to backpacking boy scouts, because they were up and loud very early.   If there are any scouting families reading this, can we add a little section to the scouting handbook about backpacking etiquette?  'Cause this troop was sorely lacking.

Despite our early wake-up, we didn't break camp until nearly 11 on Saturday morning.  Which meant I had plenty of time to snap some pics of the area.  Here is our campsite- large and flat.
 And here is Piper on Saturday morning thrilled to be out in the woods with her people.  She was happy like this all weekend.
So, after the noisy scouts cleared out and we had our fill of instant oatmeal and grits, we packed up and headed out ready for our day's adventure.

Our goal for the day was to take the Appalachian Trial from the Maupin Field area south bound up and over the 3 Ridges and down to Campbell Creek.  This was a roughly 6 mile walk full of exhilarating climbs and amazing views.  The first half of the hike was predominantly uphill, but the views at the top were so worth it.
To say that we did not rush would be an understatement.  We took lots of breaks, and allowed ourselves to soak in the beauty and vastness of all that was around us.
After the hike to the top and the thrill that accompanied the climb and the views, we continued walking and began the descent to Campbell Creek, where we had planned to spend the night.  The descent proved to be more challenging for me than the climb.  It wasn't too long before knee pain started nagging at me, and before we were half way down, the pain had escalated to pretty severe.  Both Kirk and Colin were kind enough to allow me to use their hiking poles off and on, and we (I) hobbled into camp in time to scope things out, set up camp and enjoy dinner before dusk.

Given the day's challenging hike, my earlier visions of late campfire conversation dissolved into an 8 o'clock bedtime. But, that added up to about 12 hours of good sleep which made us bright eyed and bushy tailed come morning.
Sunday's agenda was to continue south bound along the AT for about another mile until reaching the intersection with the Mau-Har trail.  The Mau-Har trail is a 3 mile stretch that connects from this point on the AT back northbound to the Maupin Field shelter (where we spent our first night).  This little connector trail was going to allow us to complete a loop over the 3 days and not have to double back.
Of course, as you can imagine, the AT still continues south from the intersection with the Mau-Har trail, and in 1.7 miles it brings you to VA Route 56.
And so, given my bum knee from the day before and given the fact that some have described the 3 mile Mau-Har trail to be more strenuous than the entire 6 mile section of the AT that we had done the day before, talk moved to potentially splitting up sending me and Colin south on the AT to VA Route 56 and sending Kirk north on the Mau-Har trail and eventually back to the car.  I had to warm up to the idea, but once I heard about the Tye River waiting for me (and Piper) at VA Route 56, I was sold.  Unfortunately, Colin was sold on the idea of tackling the challenge of the Mau-Har trail.  Not wanting to be the one to make the decision, I suggested a round of Odds or Evens to settle things once and for all.  I could describe our conversation, but why do that when I captured the whole thing on video?

So, we said our goodbyes-for-now and went our separate ways.  In less than an hour, Colin and I were greeted by the glorious Tye River.
Since our walk was quite a bit shorter than Kirk's we had plenty of time to rock hop, enjoy lunch, sunbathe on some rocks and throw sticks for Piper.
Once we were sufficiently water logged, we moved up away from the river and to a shady area next to where Kirk was supposed to be picking us up, and this was the scene there.  I think it's fair to say we were exhausted.
Once we were reunited with the Mighty Hiking Kirk, we hopped into the car and headed just up the road to check out Cascade Falls.  We opted against the 2 mile each way trip to the upper falls, deciding that the lower falls were falls enough for us.
So, there you have it:  our weekend in the woods.

And, you know maybe this entry is about a DIY project after all- my biggest and best project of all times.




  1. Sounds wonderful and amazing!!!

  2. Wow, what an adventure! The scenery and views were stunning! And what a great way to unplug and just take in all that Mother Nature has to offer!