Posts filed under ‘Mount Rogers’

Hiking News from Roanoke Times

The Roanoke Times had two articles that were of interest to my hiking hobby.  Thought I would pass them on.

Timing is Everything
This article is about catching the rhododendron blooms on the local mountains.  The article is aptly named.  There had been a couple of occassions where I’ve climbed a mountain to see rhododendrons and I’ve been too early or too late.  This year, Bill and I had it perfectly timed for the blooms at Rhododendron Gap.   Of course, there is an easy solution– just hike every weekend in June.  You’ll be bound to see something!  😉

Crews Attempt to Contain Forest Fire
Last Monday a forest fire started off the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They had to close a number of trails, including ten miles of the Appalachian Trail starting at Petite’s Gap (I hiked there just last May).   According to, the Forest Service did a shuttle service for the thru-hikers. 

That news of the shuttle kinda ruined the picture I had in my head.  I could see a thru-hiker finally passing the 800 mile mark to find the trail closed.  The disappointment of this ficticious hiker was very much like that of the Griswolds when they drove across the country to find Walley World closed.  I’m sure there are some purists who’ll regret missing 10 miles of trail, but I suspect the experience was no where near as interesting as the blatent rip-off of National Lampoon’s Vacation I was playing in my head.

P.S. The trail is back open now

July 15, 2007 at 12:58 pm Leave a comment

Mount Rogers Trip – Route, Equipment, Meals…Face Scrubs

Here are some details about our hike last weekend, particularly our route and some of the items we had along.

We took the same route as our day hike last year:

  • From Massie Gap Parking Lot in Grayson Highlands State Park, we took the AT Spur Trail up to the Appalachian Trail (0.8 miles)
  • We went Southbound on the AT, past Rhododendron Gap, through Fatman Squeeze Tunnel and to Pine Mountain Trail (2.7 miles)
  • We walked down Pine Mountain Trail to Lewis Fork Trail (~1 mile)
  • We turned right on Lewis Fork Trail and camped on Lewis Fork between Pine Mountain Trail and Crest Trail (neglible). 
  • It was a great campsite– there was a spring right across from us.

    The next day we returned the same route because someone thought he dropped his cell phone on the way up.  Hint– my LG EnV was with me and Jimmie, being a dog, doesn’t own a phone.  🙂  It turns out the cell phone was not along the AT (aka The White Trail).  It was safe and sound in the car at the parking lot.

    I got to try out a bunch of new goodies and some old standbys this trip!  Here are some items worth highlighting:

    Extreme 55 From The North Face
    My friend Jennie lent me this pack for the trip.  It was quite sufficient for my needs– I had plenty of room.  Inside I was able to fit my stove, my tent, clothing layers, food, nearly 6 liters of liquids (I’m cautious about water– I have to worry about me and Jimmie) and still had ample room.  I originally wished I could have sinched the pack slightly tighter on the waist, but that turned out not to be a hinderance at all.

    Hubba Tent From MSR
    Jimmie and I finally got to use the new one-person tent outside of our yard.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  We loved it.  It weighs roughly 3 pounds, so it is quite good for a wussy ascender like me.  Easy to put up, even easier to take down.  And we had plenty of room.  I had my area, Jimmie had his and we still had extra room (I’m 5″ 5′ and Jimmie sleeps in a little ball, so we may not be the normal occupants).  I found the mesh pockets on the sides super convenient for small item storage and most importantly– keeping my glasses out of harm’s way.

    Pocket Rocket from MSR
    This little thing RULED.  It weighs about 3 ounces (plus 4 ounces for the ISO Pro fuel canister) and it seemed like it boiled water almost instantaneously!  I ended up using it to boil water for three meals and still have quite a bit of fuel left.

    Beef Stroganoff ProPak from Mountain House
    This was my first dinner Saturday night.  I thought it was delicious.  It’s vacuumed packed, so it didn’t up much room in my pack and it was very easy to make (just add boiling water).  Now, that particular night, I also happened to eat chicken, corn on the cob, a baked potato, zucchini and squash, two toasted marshmellows and two smores.  But…I think I would have been pretty content with just the stroganoff if the other stuff wasn’t so readily available.  🙂

    PolarPure Water Purification Tablets
    Courtesy of Tony Airaghi– this is what we used to treat our spring water.  It was very easy to measure and very convenient to carry and use.  And I thought the water tasted great.  I didn’t notice any kind of bad taste from the iodine components.

    Flavor Fresh Albacore Tuna Packets from StarKist
    This isn’t a new item for me.  It’s been a staple of my day hikes for a couple of years now.  Bill and I took advantage of their 7 ounce packets for lunch both Saturday and Sunday.  They travel well, are easy to open and full of protein.  Can’t beat their convenience.

    SmartWool Hiking Socks (Medium Weight)
    I finally did it!  After purchasing 3 pairs for SmartWool socks for other people as gifts (even once off someone’s wedding registry!), I finally splurged on myself.  I can see why there is so much hype about them.  I found them to be extremely comfortable…and comforting.

    Exfoliating Clean Sweep Cucumber Cleansing Towelettes from Pond’s
    A few years ago, I bought this “instant shower” stuff designed for camping.  It was pretty much moist sponges in a resealable packet you use to wipe your body.  I didn’t like them.  They left a sticky residue and they dried up after the first usage (the resealable package’s seal wasn’t quite airtight). 

    This time on a whim, I packed this Pond’s item from our medicine cabinent.  It has proven resealable capabilities– I’ve had it for some time and the little towelettes are as moist as ever.  They also have proven cleaning capabilities– When Sean first broke his foot this winter, this *was* his shower until he got his real cast (oh and his cast condom).

    I used two on this backpacking trip and found them to be quite refreshing.  I used them mostly as designed on my face, but then used the leftover moisture to wipe down the rest of my body.

    June 13, 2007 at 11:02 pm 2 comments

    The White Trail

    A few years ago I went hiking with my younger brother.  I’ve always found Jay to be wise beyond his years and he has taught me a number of things through the years.  We were probably about 4-5 miles in our journey when Jay decided to share another lesson.

    “Hey Vicky,” he said, “Did you know there is a hiking trail that goes all the way from Maine to Georgia?”

    “Yeah,” I said, “You’re on it!”  🙂

    Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area have so many different trails of varying colored blazes, it seems many of the hikers fall in the same category as my brother.  They may have heard of the AT, but they are oblivious they are actually on it and are unaware of its enormity.  They simply refer to it as “The White Trail.”

    I’ve had professional encounters where my vocabulary is slightly different from the customer.  For example, with document control– I may use the phrase “approve the document” where the customer uses the phrase, “authorizes the document.”  On those occassions, I try to adopt their terms for the rest of the meeting.  With a common language between us, they can focus on real issues and questions instead of trying to decipher my word choices.  It’s a technique that I found myself using at Mount Rogers as well.

    Bill and I were resting on some rocks when a group of men came up the hill.  We asked where they were going and it turned out Mount Rogers Summit (the tallest point in Virginia) was their destination.  After a brief discussion the group decided to continue on their way.  Only the lead guy started to tromp past me and Bill, completely missing his switchback. 

    “How are you getting to summit?  The Appalachian Trail?” I asked.

    “What?” the misguided man replied.  He looked at me as if I was delirious with dehydration.

    “Oh, uh…” I said, “The White Trail goes that way.”

    And suddenly recognition registered in his eyes.  I was speaking his language.

    Jimmie waits where the hikers should have turned

    Sure, I guess in the long run the semantics don’t matter much.  Afterall, the scenery is just as beautiful whether you call it the “Appalachian Trail” or “The White Trail.”  A trail by any other name is just as stunning?  Well, I’m not quite sure.  I think the latter name lacks a little in spirit.  There is something inspiring and maybe even a tad romantic knowing that the trail you are on extends for thousands of miles and has a history just as long. 

    There is just something special about being on the Appalachian Trail.

    June 12, 2007 at 12:26 am 3 comments

    Mount Rogers Pictures Up

    Bill C, Jimmie and I had a great time with our backpacking trip.  The rhododendrons were in full bloom and we had perfect weather!  I hope to write more later, but for now Mount Rogers Hiking pictures can be found on my Flickr site.  Some of my favorites:

    Off of Crest Trail

    A pony greets salty Bill

    Rhodo buds off of AT at Wilburn Ridge

    Rhodo bush with rhodo-covered hillside in the background

    Herd of ponies at Massie Gap

    View from a rock at Rhododendron Gap.  It looks like trees standing in a pink stream.

    Looking northbound on the AT at Massie Gap

    Jimmie on a rock.  A rhododendron covered hillside in the background

    June 11, 2007 at 1:09 pm 5 comments

    June Plans

    Tomorrow the month of June starts and it is going to be a busy one.  I’m already booked up for the first four weekends.  So I present to you, my madhouse month of June.

    First Weekend (June 2nd and 3rd) – Charlotte
    Sean, the dogs and I are traveling to Charlotte, North Carolina.  On Saturday, we’ll be attending a party at Brian and Jodi’s house to celebrate their daughter’s first birthday.  Sunday while Sean is golfing, I’m going to take the dogs hiking at Crowder’s Mountain State Park.

    Second Weekend (June 9th and 10th) – Mount Rogers Backpacking
    Bill C and I are planning on backpacking at Mount Rogers.  Last year, we were a week early for the peak blooms on Rhododendron Gap.  So this year, we are going a week later.  A lot of details still need to be hashed out, but if you are interested in joining us, let me know.

    Third Weekend (June 16th and 17th) – Relay for Life
    Then it is time for the Montgomery County Relay for Life.  I’ll be trying to walk 20 miles during the 16 hour event.  I’m not even half way to my fundraising goal, so if you are feeling charitable or even if you just want a deduction for taxes, please visit my online donation page

    Fourth Weekend (June 23rd and 24th) – Family Reunion
    This weekend is a family reunion for Sean’s mother’s side of the family.  It is in a convenient location – Roanoke, Virginia.

    Phew.  And between all those weekends I have a number of deadlines to hit for work.  June is definitely going to be busy. 

    Wish me luck.

    May 31, 2007 at 10:50 am 6 comments

    Grayson Highlands and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

    Today was an eventful day.  Bill C and I both woke up at 5 AM.  We were on the road by 6 AM and headed out to Grayson Highlands State Park and Mount Rogers National Recreation Area

    Some well-known features of this area include:

    • The beautiful Rhododendron Gap section of the Appalachian Trail. 
      The rhododendrons blossoms that line the trail peak in early June.  We appeared to be just a couple of weeks too early, but we did get to enjoy the early blooms.
      Rhododendron on Pine Mountain Trail
    • The herds of wild ponies that occupy the mountains.
      We got to encounter of number of the ponies in our 5.5 hour hike.
      Vicky Pets Pony
    • The highest point of Virginia. 
      At an elevation of 5729', the summit of Mount Rogers is the highest point in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Although we choose not to ascend to the summit today, we did cross the highest spot (~5526' feet at Pine Mountain Crest) the Appalachain Trail reaches in Virginia.

    Bill and I took a combination of trails throughout our day's journey.  At our halfway point, we met up with Tony Airaghi, Paul Ely, Matt Ely and Nancy at their campsite.  They hiked with us for a while before our groups parted ways.  I'm not sure of our total mileage, but our route was as follows:

    • From Massie Gap Parking Lot in Grayson Highlands State Park, we took the AT Spur Trail up to the Appalachian Trail (0.8 miles)
    • We went Southbound on the AT, past Rhododendron Gap, through Fatman Squeeze Tunnel (what a apt name!) and to Pine Mountain Trail (2.7 miles)
    • We walked down Pine Mountain Trail to Lewis Fork Trail (??? ~1 mile?)
    • We turned right on Lewis Fork Trail and walked to the intersection of Lewis Fork and Crest Trail (neglible).
    • We took Crest Trail back to the Appalachian Trail (??? ~1 mile?)
    • Took the AT Northbound to Wilburn Crest Trail (.5 mile)
    • Took the Wilburn Crest Trail till its connection further down the AT (1 mile)
    • Took the Appalachian Trail Northbound to Massie Gap Trail (2.1 miles)
    • Took Massie Gap Trail down towards the State Road.
    • Whoops! We missed the parking lot and took the Horse Trail all the way down to the Country Store (??? ~2 miles?)
    • Got on a park road and walked back to the parking lot we somehow missed (??? ~2 miles?)

    It was more mileage than we intended, but still a wonderful journey!  Well-worth the trip. 

    All my pictures from this Grayson Highlands/Mount Rogers trip can be found on my website.

    June 3, 2006 at 9:29 pm 10 comments

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