It was time to return to the trail. Jan’s surprise party turned out to be just that thanks mostly to her sister Susan and son Cory. I managed to take up space. Anyway Jan is now safely into the next year of her age and it’s time to get serious about this here hike.
Hiking On in the Fog
Jan brought me to the point at which Tory and Rachel had picked up Oso and I. Once again wet was the word for the moment. The forecast called for rain from 1 to 4 pm so I had more rain to look forward to. It took me until 10:45 to get onto the trail and when I did it was hard to find because of the fog/clouds.
Evidence of some strange critter was everywhere once I crossed into the first open area. I now had two reasons to watch every step!
Suddenly out of the foggy clouds I bumped into this herd of wild elk. I suddenly realized why they called this Elk Garden. You can tell that they are wild by the tags in their ears.
The Climb to Mount Rogers
It was about a thousand foot climb along the wet trail to pass the access point to Mt Rogers. Along the way two young ladies passed me going the opposite way with their dog leading the way. Since I was in the State Park my day was filled with day hikers who were all very friendly and enthused about meeting a through hiker.
Threatening Clouds Taking Their Leave
Actually the first through hiker I met was Hawk. He is hiking Northbound having begun on April 28th but today I met him hiking with two cousins hiking Southbound for the day. We stopped and talked for awhile about the hike to this point. To a person everyone I meet now loved the beautiful sunny weather and views they had in the Smokies. Obviously we were on a different continent.
Life Out of the Apartment and Off the Couch
These dogs normally live on a couch in an apartment each day while their Mom works. She described their attitude about hiking as ecstatic! Each dog is responsible for carrying his own food and video games he might want to play. To this point everyone was hiking SOBO.
Battery Powered Electric Anti Hiker Food Eating Bear Contraption.
The bear warnings were high alert through here with reports that bears had actually robbed food hanging in the trees. They had also reportedly stolen several cars when owners failed to take their keys with them. That would be me.
Flowery blooms for those of you who like such.
Instead of rain I ended up with perfect hiking weather and views like this.
The Ponies of Grayson- Highlands
The Grayson-Highland wild ponies were everywhere. They are wild but sure accustomed to hikers in the park. They casually wandered by me as I hiked through.
A milestone of sorts was reached today. 500 miles on the AT. I met Jaywalker and his wife at the spot. Jay walked 2/3 of the AT several years ago. Today they were doing a day hike together.
500 Mile Marker With Jaywalker.
The AT has been revised often and recently it changed to what was once Rhododendron Trail inGrayson-erHighlands . The result was a longer trail, the inclusion of Fat Man Squeeze, and lots of beautiful views.
The Views of Grayson-Highland State Park
Along here I met a family of three climbing the mountain. The wife was wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. That caught my attention. When I congratulated her on her hat she replied that she was a Pittsburgh Pirates fan. Her husband had bought her the Boston hat back when the team was “no good” to keep the sun out of her eyes when hiking. It was the cheapest hat. Now, of course, it’s worth at least a million dollars….. at least in my mind.
New Life Still Trying to Stand
New life as I walked along the trail. Mom was just cleaning up the new foal as I approached. Junior attempted to get up several times as I watched. No luck but maybe next time. ( As I type I can hear a pack of coyotes howling and working this way. I hope they don’t like Twizzlers.)
Once in lower terrain the trail ran along several creeks and began to meander toward the scales. For about 30 minutes here a quick thunderstorm drench the area. Luckily I saw it coming and dressed out for it.
Mount Rogers and the Cliffs Just Climbed
In the old days the cattlemen would weigh their cattle up here because the cattle would lose so much weight being driven to the bottom of the mountain. It became known as the scales and carries that name even today. Dang those coyotes are in my camp…. hang on while I chase them away. They’ve got some chicken in them.
I hiked until 7:45 pm knocking out 13 miles. I’m happy with that considering my starting time. I’ve got a perfect camping spot next to a small branch and all the privacy in the world….. other than a few coyotes earlier in the evening. It’s now 4:35 am and I find myself wide awake.
The Perfect Spot To Camp
Yesterdays hike was darn near the way it ought to be. It was filled with spectacular views, significant climbs, horses, cows, and even some humanoids. It’ll make it easier to hike on tomorrow.