The Garage, Angel’s Rest and Wanting to Cry

September 8, 2008 at 12:22 am 9 comments

The week before Labor Day had its share of frustrations for me. Sunday I thought I was returning to a relatively empty house, a house that all I had left to do was touch up paint and clean. That was very far from the case. That night, weary from all the work I have already done and looking at the challenge that remained, I got a distinctive lump in my throat and my eyes started to well up. I almost cried.


But Monday evening, it was back to work on the house. First things first. An old co-worker came by and we worked well past dark, organizing and sorting through old belongings. This effort continued the rest of the week and pretty much every item left in the house got queued in one pile or another in the garage. The project culminated Saturday and Sunday when everything got removed from the house.

It took three volunteers, a number of FreeCycle postings and pickups, three trips to the dump, two trips to the YMCA donation center, one trip to the Habitat for Humanity Restore Store, one trip to the Verizon store to recycle phones, one trip to the Blacksburg Recycling Center and one failed visit to GameStop.

Even with all that, we also managed to touch up paint two rooms, to sweep both the basement and the garage and to sweep and mop the downstairs hardwood floors. Not too shabby!

Garage Before

Garage After

It was cause for a mini-celebration. And what better way to celebrate than with my first “real” hike since Mount Rogers in June!

I chose my very favorite hike of all, Angel’s Rest. There is a lot I love about Angel’s Rest. It’s short, but steep– you ascend 1500 feet in 1.7 miles. It has great views– Angel’s Rest and then an even better one of Wilburn Valley (It is WORTH the extra mileage!). But what really differentiates Angel’s Rest from my other favorite hike contenders (Tinker Cliffs and Sinking Creek Mountain lead that list) is the sentimental value.

You see, Angel’s Rest was my very first ascent….waaaaaay back before I ever really hiked. We’re talking 1998 or 1999. Heck, I wouldn’t even own hiking boots for another four-five years! Just one weekend, I was looking for something to do with my puppy (That would be Jimmie!). I read about Angel’s Rest on the Jefferson National Forest website and decided to head westbound to the trailhead.

It took me FOREVER to get up that mountain. It seemed insurmountable!!! I thought I was going to throw up. That doesn’t say a lot though– I was emetophobic back then which means I thought I was going to throw up approximately thirty times a day. 🙂 But more telling – At one point, I turned a bend and saw the steep hill continuing. My legs were so weary from the climb I had already done and looking at the hill that remained, I got a distinctive lump in my throat and my eyes started to well up. I almost cried.


But step by step I made my way to the rhododendron thicket near the top and then up one last steep hill to the final view.

I was elated and invigorated by what I could see. Not only was the view beautiful, but little tiny Pearisburg, little tiny Food Lion and little tiny New River carried with them the very same message as the sight of my recently cleaned garage does today:

“Job Well Done.”

Little tiny New River, little tiny Food Lion, little tiny Pearisburg

Nearly a decade later, after a frenzied week on the house, I got to hike Angel’s Rest again and I got to think about the very first time I went up that mountain. How I wanted to quit, but didn’t. And how sometimes in life, as well as hikes, you are faced with a challenge that makes you want to cry.

And how sometimes if you just take it one step at a time, your progress may seem slow, but when you look back, you can see how far you’ve come.

And somehow…when you do look back, those hills just don’t seem as steep anymore.

Of course, there were other things I thought about on the way up to Angel’s Rest. Like, pretty views and mushrooms and old towers and, of course, just how beautiful Southwest Virginia can be. 🙂

Jimmie…. still hiking with me! At Wilburn Valley Overlook.
Rhododendrons through a crack in a cave

Turning leaves, spider web, power lines

Orange mushrooms

Looking up an old power line tower which nature is already taking over

More pictures of my celebratory Angel’s Rest hike can be found on my Flickr site.

Appalachian Trail – Angel’s Rest and Wilburn Valley
Length: 4.4 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 1500 feet in the first 1.7 miles.

Parking: The trailhead is off a fully paved road with gravel parking on the side.

Directions from Blacksburg, VA
Take 460 West
Take the VA-100 exit at Pearisburg
Turn right on Johnston Avenue (the road right after Dairy Queen)
Turn right on Morris Avenue (VA-634)
The Appalachian Trail crosses the road in about 0.5 miles.


Entry filed under: Angel's Rest, Appalachian Trail, Hiking.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. geekhiker  |  September 8, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    I agree with the philosophy of one step at a time wholeheartedly. Now I just wish I could find the bloody trail…

  • 2. Joe Frambach  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:26 pm

    Pearis Mtn is still one of my favorites.
    It seems like its been 10 years since I’ve been there.

  • 3. TGAW  |  September 9, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    @Joe – Aww, all those mountains you have climbed and you still managed to remember the name of this one! Good work!

  • 4. Improvisation « TGAW  |  September 12, 2008 at 12:21 am

    […] 12, 2008 As of a couple of weekends ago, my house is pretty much vacant. With no couch, no bed and a dwindling blanket supply, my poor animals have had to get inventive. […]

  • 5. Brian  |  September 12, 2008 at 8:29 pm

    If I hadn’t been looking for your cache I never would have seen the spectacular view past angels rest. For some reason I always miss that power line tower on the way up but then see it on the way back. And where is this cave your picture was taken from?

  • 6. TGAW  |  September 12, 2008 at 11:55 pm

    @Brian – That is one thing I love about geocaching! It exposes you to places and items of interest you may otherwise miss. I lived in this area for over a decade before I knew we had a frisbee golf course. I learned out it when I was finding a cache hidden there.

    Similiarly, my Uncle lived his entire life in the DC area and he never thought about the origins of “Silver Spring”. One day he was looking for a geocache and it took him to a sign that labeled the spring his town was named after.

    Anyway, glad you got to see that Wilburn Valley view. 🙂

  • 7. TGAW  |  September 12, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    @Brian – Oh– and that cave structure is on the AT, slightly southbound of Angel’s Rest. I may have used the word “cave” a little too liberally. I was in a covered crevace between some big boulders.

  • 8. Happy Birthday, Jimmie Dog « TGAW  |  April 15, 2009 at 8:03 am

    […] Angel’s Rest […]

  • […] how many times had I been on a hike and wanted to cry and didn’t think I could continue? Each time my body knew its capabilities better than my […]


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