Archive for October, 2007

The Birthday Orange

Last weekend, as we hiked Peters Mountain, Mike E celebrated a birthday. The wilderness doesn’t provide good shopping opportunities, but I was able to find a great gift for him from the inventory of my pack. An orange! And so, at our our second day campsite near Symms Gap, Mike ingested his birthday orange.

The Birthday Orange!!!

An orange may sound meager, but it was well-received. Over the last couple of years, oranges on hikes has become a little tradition of ours. Here’s an entry I found in my 2006 journals talking about the history of our hiking oranges.


Last year when Mike E and I hiked VA-779 to VA-311 [13.1 miles], Mike brought along an orange. When we reached Tinker Cliffs after a long, steady ascent, Mike shared a few wedges of his orange with me.

It was so very delicious on that hot day, that orange and its sweet rejuvenating juices were exactly what our bodies needed.

This year when we hiked 13.1 miles from VA-779 to VA-220, it was I who brought an orange. And… when our bodies were hot and fatiqued, shortly before Hay Rock, Mike and I sat down and split that fruit.

Again – it was DIVINE. Delicious and refreshing. Just what we craved.

The oranges are such a highlight of our hikes– that [on our hike] last week, Mike and I both brought 2 oranges each! That’s a total of 4 oranges!

Not only that– early in our own hike, maybe even mile one, we started anticipating the oranges – speculating when we’d stop and how good they’d taste.

It wasn’t a disappointment when we finally stopped and ingested our first orange.

So today, preparing for my hike with Bill— an orange was a no-brainer inclusion. It was a downright necessity.

BUT– once I got on the trail, the orange securely in my pack, I had a strange feeling come about. It was a twinge of guilt and regret. It almost felt– it almost felt like I was being adulterous to have an orange without Mike E. Like I was cheating on him by sharing our fledgling tradition with a stranger.

It turns out no one (Bill, Tony, Paul, Matt, Nancy) had the least bit interest in my orange. That only goes to show they were unworthy of the orange to begin with! ūüôā

Anyway– so no orange was had in Mike E’s absence.

This evening when I returned, Mike and I discussed today’s orange goings-on. Mike and I decided to have an “open relationship”… in regards to oranges. ūüôā

“I’m cool with you eating oranges with other people,” Mike said.

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“Likewise, I give you permission to share oranges with whoever you like.” I told Mike.

So we are both free to sow our orange seeds whereever or with whomever we desire. BUT– I suspect that having an orange on the trail without Mike E will just not be the same.

I will always think of my hiking buddy whenever an orange is ingested. Mike’s lasting legacy?

It’s a good thing we established an orange understanding. This summer at Apple Orchard Falls— I shared an orange with some Potomac Appalachian Trail Club members. Yup, members. I’m a slut. ūüôā


October 10, 2007 at 9:18 am 3 comments

A Hike of Many Purposes

Last weekend, Jimmie and I joined a formidable group of hikers and dogs on a backpacking trip on Peters Mountain! We traveled from VA-460 to VA-635. That section spanned 19.8 miles of the Appalachian Trail and all but 0.2 miles were new to me!

In my home office, I have an elevation gain map of many of the Virginia Appalachian Trail miles hanging on my wall. Whenever I complete some new mileage of the AT, I highlight the completed section. On that map, Peters Mountain has sat smugly blank for some time, bisecting two substantial sections of completed trail.

On Monday, the contour of Peters Mountain was finally traced over with a yellow highlighter! Now I can look proudly at my map and know that I have hiked a continuous stretch from VA-611 in Bland County all the way to the Blue Ridge Parkway north of Roanoke!

My AT Map– Before and After

Besides connecting two sections of completed mileage, this particular hike had a number of purposes:

Mike E’s Birthday Hike!
Mike, like myself, celebrates his birthday with a hike. Two years ago we went northbound on the AT to Dragon’s Tooth. Last year, we went to the Smokies! And this year, we hit Peters Mountain. I profit substantially from Mike E’s birth.

*MY* Birthday Hike!
Yup, my birthday was seven months ago. But if you happen to have a great memory (or mediocre searching skills), you’ll find that this same mountain was targetted for my birthday hike in March before I got stupid strep throat. But look how this has a happy ending! Thanks to that strep throat, my first trip to Peters Mountain included great weather, wonderful company and beautiful fall views. Sometimes good things do come to those that wait.

HEL Backpacking Trip
The group I was with were employees from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute— the people who do the SmartRoad. Specifically, I was with their Hardware Engineering Lab (HEL) team. Each year they do an annual backpacking trip and this was it. Man, that organization has a great corporate culture! Not only do they do cool backpacking trips like this, but they do annual canoe trips, painting balling ventures, and other outdoor activities. Note to self — get a job at the SmartRoad.

It feels weird to close this post without any pictures, so here you go!

Day 2 – Me and Jimmie at Rice Fields

Day 2 – Pile of Packs at Rice Fields

Day 2 – Tents at Sunset

Day 2 – View of Trail from Rice Fields

Day 3 – Sunrise Nears Symms Gap

Day 3 – Fog from Near Symms Gap

As usual more pictures of our Peters Mountain Hike can be found on my Flickr site.

October 10, 2007 at 8:48 am 3 comments

Henry and Keffer Oak

Over a year ago, I heard about the Remarkable Trees of Virginia Project.¬† I didn’t have to think twice about what tree to nominate— the Appalachian Trail’s Keffer Oak!¬†

On Sunday I got a call from the project and they told me Keffer Oak made their top 100 which will be included in a book that will be published in 2008.  Good News!

Then they said they wanted someone to pose as an Appalachian Trail hiker in the photo.  They asked if I would be interested.  Great News!!

Then a little later they called and asked, “Do you still have that dog?”

That dog would be Henry!¬† When I nominated the tree, I submitted a picture with Henry to provide some perspective on the tree’s size.¬† They asked me to bring Henry to the photoshoot.¬† Spectacular News!!!

And so this morning, little Henry and I got up at 5 AM.¬† I still had my pack in tact from last weekend’s backpacking trip (which will get a series of blog posts once¬†I have more time), so I grabbed it and my trusty hiking boots and met up with the writer and photographer.

We hiked the shortest route to the tree (0.6 miles from VA-630) and the photographing began. 

The photographer working his magic with Keffer Oak

I’m not sure how either Henry or I did (I didn’t feel very natural) or if we will ultimately make it into the book, but it was a fun time.¬† I very much enjoyed chatting to both of my companions and getting an opportunity to talk highly of our local mountains.¬†¬† I’m a little envious of their occupation!¬† Driving around, taking pictures of and talking about cool trees— that sounds awesome!

On top of all the fun, the trip was educational for me.  I learned a little lesson about myself today:

I will sacrifice my own comfort for art

Despite keeping him leashed, early on Henry found an opportunity to roll in cow manure.¬†¬†And so,¬†as is often the case, Henry was covered in poo.¬† At one point, Henry and I were “resting” under the tree and I could hear the writer yell a direction to me from above.

“PET HENRY!!!!” she said.

And so I did.¬† ūüôā

October 9, 2007 at 10:20 am 5 comments

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October 3, 2007 at 2:21 pm Leave a comment

Glenn Potts

Last night one of my former co-workers, Glenn Potts, passed away.  He had esophageal cancer.

I worked with Glenn for many years and we exchanged pleasantries frequently when we passed each other in the company kitchen.¬† But, I didn’t know him all that well.

When he got sick, I started to send him some letters and some postcards as I traveled.¬† In this day in age, letter writing is a pretty dead art.¬† I rarely get letters back, so I don’t expect them.¬† I especially did not expect it from Glenn.¬†

But, with everything on his mind and all that he had to face, he took the time to write me back an actual, physical, multipage letter.  And there, I got to hear about his visit to Estes Park and the time he tried skiing and ended up under a truck in the parking lot.  He made me smile.  He made me laugh.  It was a very nice letter.

One thing that struck me about Glenn when I worked with him is he would almost always¬†eat lunch alone.¬† I’d catch sight of him at Cracker Barrell or Stone’s and would invite him to join our hefty crowd, but he would politely decline.¬† He always opted to eat at his own table and read his paper.¬† Now at the time, lunch was my social hour.¬† I would even venture to say that lunch’s¬†primary purpose was socializing…and then¬†maybe, perhaps,¬†eating would be a runner-up.¬† Coming from that perspective, I’d spy Glenn and his paper and wonder if he was lonely.¬†

This May, I started working on-site at a company in Roanoke and with three exceptions, I’ve eaten alone each meal.¬† At first I was quite annoyed with the prospect.¬† This is LUNCH, afterall, my favorite part of the day.¬† Without companions, I read magazines, worked on crossword puzzles and caught up on letters (some to Glenn).¬† As time went on, suddenly I developed a deep appreciation of the alone time.¬† It was peaceful.¬† It was productive.

“I get it now,” I wrote Glenn in July.

And that, for me, may end up being the memory of Glenn that best stands the test of time.

October 2, 2007 at 7:15 pm 8 comments

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October 2, 2007 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment

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