Posts Tagged With: Hiking

2019 in 2019 Challenge: Weeks 36 & 37

Hiking 2,019 miles before August 1, 2019, has been my physical goal for the past several months. I’ve just completed weeks 36 and 37 of the 52-week adventure. My personal challenge has been so much fun, although some days my old legs and sore muscles are not happy when I put on my Altra walking shoes and energize my MapMyHike App on my iPhone (I think I just did a three-way commercial). To reach my goal I need to trek a total of 38.83 miles per week. I have been doing very well so far and I am about 325 miles ahead of pace.

Week 36 (April 3-9) was an excellent week logging 52.2 miles. The week began with a 12 ½ -mile perimeter hike around Caesar Creek State Park. The local park is about 25 miles from my doorstep (I drive to the park!) and it has been a favorite hiking spot for several years. Week 37 was not as productive. I managed to hit the minimum number by walking 39.33 miles but I rested more this week taking two zero days. It felt good to enjoy some needed rest – God provided the Sabbath not just for worship but also for rest. I did not take “a day off” during week 36, so I double up on week 37 to make up for it – I’m not sure it is supposed to work that way.

I love watching spring explode into existence. Two weeks ago, everything was rather blah – brown, grey, and lifeless. Warmer temperatures, a little sunshine, a little rain, and WHAM! grass, buds on trees, a kaleidoscope of colorful flowers. The signs of life put an extra bounce in my step. The spring breezes fill my semi-ancient lungs with the freshness of a new season. The last two days (Monday and Tuesday – April 15-16) have been so pleasant that I have walked without a coat – it is like removing a burden and feeling the lift off the shoulders.

I have listened to several audiobooks (ten) over the past two weeks: Holes by Louis Sachar; Kira, Kira by Cynthia Kadohata; Munich by Robert Harris; Louisiana’s Way Home, Because of Winn-Dixie and Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo; A Spark of Life by Jodi Picoult; Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman; Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson; and M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton. Some were disappointing, other just mediocre, and a few were really good. I have become a fan of Kate DiCamillo and found her books entertaining. I also lift up Holes by Sachar – it was funny and introduced some great characters in a short book. Maybe it reflects my intellect, but I prefer the clean and more simple, moral plots of children’s literature to the adult novels with political correctness, amoral ethics, and humanistic philosophies.

My sister and I have collaborated on our 8th children’s book and have published Remarkable Rex on Amazon within the past two weeks. We co-authored this book, based on a true North Carolina story, and Diane has done a wonderful job illustrating the book with professional drawings. It is available on Amazon if you would like to check it out. Click on the cover and it will take to the webpage.

Week 38 awaits with 253.4 miles left to complete the challenge and the 1,800-mile marker in sight.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Book Reviews, Caesar Creek, Local Hikes, Ohio, Remarkable Rex | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2019 in 2019 Challenge: Week 35

Week 35 (March 27 – April 2) of my personal challenge of walking 2,019 miles before August 1, 2019, yielded 48.45 miles. Again, I was able to walk more than the needed 38.83 miles per week. I did not have a big double-digit hike this week but rather managed miles all seven days. My longest day logged in at 8.67 and a rainy Saturday (March 30) booked my lowest day of 3.26 miles. So far, I have been blessed to walk 1,674 miles leaving 345 miles to go. With a solid week coming up, I hope to hit the 1,700-mile marker and get under 300 miles to finish.

Rocky at Caesars Creek

My time outside also allowed me to listen to seven books (6 children’s books and one longer novel). I enjoyed five Newbery Award-winners: Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (1992);  Manic Magee by Jerry Spinelli (1991); Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (1990); Dear Mr. Henshaw by Beverly Cleary (1984); and The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman (1987). I thoroughly appreciated all five of these novels from great story-tellers, but my favorites were Shiloh and Number the Stars. I also read a children’s book by Katherine Applegate (author of Newbery Award-winning The One and Only Ivan) entitled Wishtree published in 2017 – another good read for children. It was short, but its message was significant. The adult novel for the week was The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared (2012 by Jonas Jonasson). It was funny but missed the mark of engagement for me personally.

The first day of Week 35 was a travel day for Rocky and I as we returned from Shawnee State Park in Ohio. On the drive home, we stopped at the Great Serpent Mound in Adams County. Located along Brush Creek the snake-like structure is 1,348 feet long. The estimated dating of the mound is 300 BC and it claims to be the largest serpent effigy in the world. Rocky and I walked around the mound and took a photo from a two-story observation tower. We also discovered a nature trail that took us down to Brush Creek where explored the path and found a hollow tree big enough for me to stand up inside.

Serpent Mound, Adams County

Serpent Mound














Brush Creek

Me in the Tree

























Working through the blowdown

We stopped at Caesar Creek State Park and hiked a 3.5-mile loop trail at 50 Springs Campground. It was a bit muddy and a few blow-downs slowed our pace, but we still loved being together on the path. The rest of the week was patrolling the neighborhood looking for crazy squirrels, signs of spring, and wild moose that may have ventured down from Maine.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Adams County, Blow Downs, Caesar Creek, Ohio, Serpent Mounds | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 in 2019 Challenge: Week 34

Woodpecker Restaurant

March 20-26 made up week 34 of my personal challenge of walking 2,019 miles between August1, 2018 and July 31, 2019. I need to average 38.83 miles per week to accomplish my goal. I managed to walk 41.5 miles this week despite two zero-days (one resulting from traveling and the other because of life’s business). I took an eleven-mile stroll along the rail-trail in nearby Waynesville, Ohio early in the week. Spring was in the air and several bikers were trying out the course. I heard a few woodpeckers and found one of their favorite restaurants.

Rocky ahead on the path

Rocky and I went on a short get-a-way to Shawnee State Park, close to Portsmouth, Ohio later in the week and enjoyed to beautiful hiking in the hills. Along with other trails, Rocky and I explored the Buzzardroost Trail (actually outside the state park and located in the Edge of Appalachia Preserve) and the path to Raven Rock (nestled in Raven Rock State Nature Preserve). Buzzardroost Rock is found about 2.3 miles from the trailhead and stands about 300 feet above the valley floor. Named for the turkey and black vultures (the term buzzard is the common name for several species of birds of prey) that call the rock home, the roost offers a nice panoramic view of the surrounding area. Raven Rock was even more impressive to me. A shorter and steeper path led to a dramatic overlook of the Ohio River According to the history of the area, Daniel Boone and Tecumseh are counted among the many who stood at the spot. And now Rocky, Rowdy, Daniel, and Tecumseh share the same footprints.

The Ohio River from Raven Rock

Because I had such a wonderful hiking buddy this week, my book listening only included The Innocent Man by John Grisham, The Address by Fiona Davis, and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. All three books were interesting. The Innocent Man was a work of non-fiction about a wrongful conviction and the life of a death-row inmate. The Address was a novel involving two plots, one in 1884 and the other in 1985. Although well-written, I had a difficult time cheering for the lifestyle of either protagonist. The One and Only Ivan was the Newbery Award recipient in 2013 and quite an enjoyable read involving Ivan, a silverback gorilla; Stella, an elderly elephant; and Bob, a stray dog. If you have some time to read a book this week my recommendation would be The One and Only Ivan. (Grisham was long and quite complicated, Davis lacked that plot that pulled me into the lives of others, and I am a fan of children’s literature.)

Shawnee State Park

With my miles logged during Week 34, I have a total of 1,625.61 miles. I have 395 miles left and some good spring weather coming my way. From Springboro, Ohio, to Cincinnati to Louisville, Kentucky to the Mississippi River in St Louis, Missouri, is just about 395 miles so I still have a trek left on my challenge. But in God’s grace, I am looking forward to walking in the woods of the Metroparks and at Caesar Creek State Park near my home in Springboro.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Ohio, Rocky, Shawnee State Park, Springboro | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

2019 in 2019 Challenge: Week 32

Snow to begin the week

Spring peeking through

This past week (#32) in West Virginia provided several days of productive walking. Week 32 of my personal (52-week) challenge to walk 2,019 miles yielded 63.76 miles, including my longest single day walk so far – 15.15 miles. In talking to one of Rocky’s brothers, Brad guesstimated that the Pennsylvania line was a 7-mile hike along the rail trail that follows the Monongahela River. The hike took 4 hours and 20 minutes, but it was a beautiful day and the river walk was flat and wooded. I was welcomed along the path by a deer who just stared at me for a while and casually moved into the woods. I softly voiced my greetings and offer to take her picture, but by the time a got my camera (iPhone) out of my pocket, the deer was bored with the visit and left in search of a salad buffet. I even saw an antique TARDIS along the way for all you Doctor Who fans.



WVU Coliseum

Walk to Pennsylvania

God flipped the spring switch on Saturday and the high temperatures went from the 20’s to the 50’s. All the snow melted, and the sun was bright in the sky. I saw my first flowers peeking their faces through the melting snow. A quick walk to West Virginia University’s Coliseum enabled me to break the 1,500-mile marker of the challenge, leaving five hundred miles plus a handful to go.

This week’s listening included seven books – lots of miles plus short books equals some good stories. I listened to three Newbery Award-winners: The Giver by Lois Lowry (1994), Crispin, The Cross of Lead by Avi (2003), and The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo (2004). All three books were good reads but all three were very different.

The Stone TARDIS

Spring is in the air

The Giver portrays a future perfect world that is far from perfect. Crispin is set in the 14th century and tells of the many dangers facing the young boy as he runs for his life being falsely accused of crimes. Despereaux tells the tale of a small mouse with big ears.  The one adult book on my reading list this week was The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson, the first in a series of books about Walt Longmire, veteran sheriff of Absaroka County, WY. This was not my favorite read this month, but the humor was refreshing. To round out my listening pleasure I completed From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (sister and her brother who run away from home and hide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art), Some Kind of Courage by Dan Gemeinhart (my favorite read of the week about a young boy’s search for his horse) , Scar Island also by Dan Gemeinhart (a rather dark look at a reformed school in the mold of Lord of the Flies).

Looking forward to Week 33, including a nice long walk on my birthday.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Book Reviews, Local Hikes, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

2019 in 2019 Challenge – Week 26

The Creek at Sugarcreek

What a great week! Each week in the “2019 in 2109 Challenge” runs from Wednesday through Tuesday since August 1st (the start date of the challenge) landed on a Wednesday in 2018. Week 26, the halfway mark, ran (or should I say walked) from January 23 through January 29. For those just checking in on my blog for the first time, “The 2019 in 2019 Challenge” is my personal goal of walking 2,019 miles in one year ending on July 31, 2019. So far I have been able to walk ahead of schedule and this week was another good one. I need 38.83 miles per week to reach the goal and week 26 produced 46.22 miles.

My accumulated distance is 1,189.26 miles. I am really happy with the pace so far. If I can just maintain a few more average weeks, I should be through the coldest weather and the warm breezes of spring will hopefully bring a new “spring” to my step.


Rocky on the move

Sugarcreek Trail

Rocky and I took some hikes in the woods this week as we visited Sugar Creek Metropark and Cox Arboretum. Because of the snowing trails were tried out our new Yaktrax Walkers, a traction devise that fits over your walking shoes. These lightweight hand-wound steel coils (these don’t have any spikes) pressed into the ice and snow with every step giving us great traction and stability on the slippery path. They were so easy to get on and off and they provided Rocky and I lots of confidence that we would not fall as we enjoyed the crisp winter air along the trail.

We saw lots of animal tracks in the snow, took a few pictures, and researched the pawprints when we got back home. We identified chipmunk, rabbit, deer, bobcat, and a small water bird in the heron family (Just kidding about the bobcat!). A book (Animal Tracks of Ohio) that my son, Matthew, gave me came in handy for identification.

Frozen Pond at Cox

Neighborhood walking provides time for book listening. I managed to “read” four audiobooks this week: a rather strange novel about a frustrated author, The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma; a non-fiction account of  hunting down German war criminals after WW2, The Killing of the SS by Bill O’Reilly; a sad memoir of a young woman raised in a ultra-conservative cult, In the Days of Rain by Rebecca Stott; and a light-weight murder mystery, I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark. None of them would make my top ten list, but I my favorite of the week was The Killing of the SS. It was hard to read the atrocities of the Nazis, but it was interesting to learn of the efforts to bring justice to the war crimes.

Rocky and Rowdy

As I sit here writing this post the weather outside is frightful. It is -3 degrees with a windchill of  -25 degrees. That is why I am sitting in my warm living room and not outside logging miles. Today will definitely be a zero-day. Hopefully, the temperatures will improve in the next couple of day and provide some more comfortable opportunities to walk. Good courage to you all and stay warm.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Cox Arboretum, Local Hikes, MetroPark, Ohio | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 in 2019 Challenge: Week 25

Week 25

Week 25 of my 52-week challenge to walk 2,190 miles before July 31, 2019, was a productive one. It was a white week filled with Ohio snow and January temperatures, but I was still able to get out most days and roam the neighborhood. Fortunately, I surpassed the weekly minimum (38.83 miles) and logged 51.13 miles. I really like the free HikeMyWalk app by UnderArmor. It seems to accurately map my walks and provides me with distance to the hundredth of a mile. I was able to reach the 1100-mile marker early in the week and ended week 25 with a grand total of 1143 miles toward the final goal – leaving 876 miles to complete.

I listened to four books again this week during my walks. My favorite read of Week 25 was The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King, a mystery about Miss Mary Russell, a young woman who becomes an apprentice to Sherlock Homes. A quick read, The Pecan Man, by Cassie Dandridge Selleck, was an interesting novel placed in the south in 1976 which takes the reader into a complex series of events involving murder, racial tensions, and sacrificial commitment. The other two books that filled my week were not as good and would not receive a high recommendation: The Spook Lights Affair, by Marcia Muller, and The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson. I try to give a rating and quick review of each book I read on goodreads, a website in which you can log your reading and share with others. I would invite you to become friends with me on if you are interested in exchanging ideas about books together.

The weather was beautiful as the snow transformed the neighborhood into a winter wonderland. Although most of the sidewalks were slippery or covered with several inches of snow, the streets were plowed and provided a stable path for an old man’s feet. I loved meeting some snow people along the way. I failed to get a photograph of most of them, but I did capture a few. I shared a little bit of my hiking challenge with the snow couple but they seemed more concerned about the warming temperature approaching in a  few days.

Week 26, January 23-29, looks like another wintery week in Ohio – some snow, some single digit temperatures, and some moderate winds. I love to walk in the winter. I love to walk in the winter. I love to walk in the winter. Sorry, I still have not convinced myself. I am going to learn to enjoy my winter walks.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Book, Local Hikes, Ohio, Snow | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

2019 in 2019 – Week 21

Merry Christmas! Week 21 of my walking challenge ended on Christmas Day. The last week of Advent was a peaceful one and one filled with reflections on the miracle of Christmas – the Incarnation – God becoming man and living among us – God with us – Emmanuel.

The walking this week was enjoyable as well. Since August 1, I have adopted a goal of hiking 2,019 miles before the end of July 2019. December 25th ended week 21 of the challenge. I need to average 38.83 miles each week and I was able to accumulate 47.31 miles this week, almost 8.5 miles more than what I needed. So far I have hiked 938.79 miles.

I like to listen to Audiobooks while I walk. During Week 21, I listened to True Blue by David Baldacci and Force of Nature by Jane Harper. Both novels were well written but neither book would make my top ten list of 2018.

I enjoyed some good walks around the neighborhood this week. The temperatures were above freezing for the most part and the sun brightened a blue sky on three of the hikes. Thursday and Friday were rainy days, but I managed to fit in long walks in between times of showers.  I’ve got an excellent rain jacket and waterproof pants, but they hardly got wet this week.

One day this past week I was taking my walk when I looked up and the song came bursting into my head. “Sunny Day, Sweepin’ the clouds away, On my way to where the air is sweet, Can you tell me how to get, How to get to Sesame Street?”* Finally, after all these years, I can say, yes! Yes, I know how to get there! I found my way. I looked for my favorites, but no one could be found – they all must be making a movie or on vacation. Not to worry, I will be back

Many of the homes in the Springboro area were decorated with holiday bling. However, all those giant blow-up decorations look blah and sad during the day when the air is let out, leaving the lifeless snowmen, Santas, and polar bears flat on their faces. It reminded me, as I walked my streets, that the commercial façade of Christmas is so empty and superficial. I really resonate with two common expressions I hear in Christian circles: “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” and “Wise Men Still Seek Him.” I like Frosty and Rudolf. Elf, Miracle of 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Carol are part of my traditional viewings during the holidays, but I try my best to fill my house with the sights and sounds of Emmanuel and the realities of the birth of Jesus – the Messiah, the Savior, the Redeemer, the Forgiver, The King of Kings.


* Sesame Street Theme Song: Written by: BRUCE HART, JON STONE, JOSEPH G. RAPOSO Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group



Categories: 2019 in 2019, Hiking, Local Hikes, Ohio, Springboro | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Week 15 of the 2019 Challenge

Week 15 of my personal challenge – 2019 miles in 2019 – was an average week in miles. I need to walk 38.83 miles each week to obtain my goal in one calendar year. I started my challenge on August 1, 2018, and have a deadline of July 31, 2019. This week I managed to walk 39.74 miles.

I started the week in West Virginia, then spent a day on the road traveling to see my sister in North Carolina and another day driving back home to Ohio. But I managed to have several nice walks while visiting family and two long hikes when I returned to Springboro.

The stay in West Virginia was very relaxing as Rocky and I went to visit her 92-year-old mother, Dee. She was not up to much hiking, but I was able to get away for several hours one day and logged in 9.6 miles through an arboretum and along a bike path. I saw an amazing tree on the campus of West Virginia University as I made my way to the arboretum. It looked like it had been painted, but when I got closer I discovered that it was croqueted or macraméd with some sort of stiff jute. The walk through the arboretum itself was filled with fallen leaves and wooded paths. The path leads directly over the hill and connects with the bike path. I turned toward town and walked along the river. I saw a picturesque riverboat making its way down the Monongahela River and several interesting shops as the path leads to the Hazel Ruby McQuain Riverfront Park. I was attracted to an interesting class tree that celebrates the diversity of humanity.

















Rocky and I drove to Winston-Salem, NC to see my favorite sister (I only have one, but she is amazing!), Diane. She and I have been collaborating on a series of children’s books during the last two years. Click below to check them out, including the most recent Christmas book, Toothpick. We had a great visit talking about books and family trees over several cups of tea and some tasty nut bread. We got in a lovely walk around the neighborhood as we enjoyed some sunny but cool North Carolina autumn.











The drive back to Ohio was interrupted by a spontaneous hike. Rocky and I were driving up the highway out of NC when we saw the fantastic rock outcroppings of Pilot Mountain. It was still early in the day, so we decided to see the summit. And I am so glad that we did. We only hiked about two miles, but the views were spectacular. The day was clear and the panoramic optics were amazing with the horizons stretching for miles.











Arriving back in Ohio, I knew I was rather short of my needed miles for the week. Doing a little math and some projecting of the weather forecast for Monday and Tuesday, I was encouraged that I might be able to make my quota. It would take two 12-mile days, but the weather looked clear of rain. The temperature was rather chilly, but the rain held off and my legs did not let me down. Monday yielded 12.5 miles and Tuesday’s sore legs pulled off 12.16 miles ending my week with a total of 39.74 miles. I have logged in a total of 647 miles since August 1, and I am 65 miles ahead of the minimal pace.

Wednesday looks like no rain and temperatures in the high 30’s, so I hope to get another good walk in to start week 16.

Categories: 2019 in 2019, North Carolina, Ohio, Pilot Mountain, West Virginia | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

2019 in 2019

I saw a t-shirt during my vacation this summer in Utah. It simply said 2018 miles in 2018. The idea really caught my imagination and I knew I wanted to take on a challenge like that. So, I came home and started my smartphone calculator humming to figure out the possibilities of such a goal. Of course, it is almost 2019, so that that would be the goal.

My trusted iPhone blinked a weekly goal of 38.83 miles and an average of 5.33 miles every day. I talked long and hard to my legs and to my heart. They had a bit of an argument, rather heated at times until my heart convinced my legs that it would not only be doable, but it would be a great way to get/stay in shape.

Being the retired educator, I think in terms of school years, so I decided to walk 2, 019 miles during the 2018-2019 school year. I started on August 1 and plotted out a plan to complete my personal challenge by the end of July.

So, “How am I doing?” you might ask. My start was not very good. At the end of the first week, I was already in the hole. I pulled 35 miles during my first seven days, putting me more than three miles behind right out of the gate. By the end of the first month, I was seven miles below what I needed. I knew this was not a positive trend, because August is fantastic walking weather compared to the rain, snow and freezing conditions facing me this fall and winter.

I knew that I needed to pick it up. Even though I had not announced my challenge to very many people, I was not going to abandon the goal too quickly. After all, I knew about the challenge and I really hate to disappoint the Rowdy that lives inside of me.

So, during week five, I took advantage of beautiful weather and nailed 54 miles, flipping a seven-mile deficit into an eight-mile surplus. However, before my inflated ego knew what happened, I flopped the very next week accumulating only 27 miles, putting me back in the hole three and a half-miles.

I “yo-yo”ed the next two weeks going from a personal best of almost 60 miles including two ten-mile days and one 12.6 hike at the state park, down to a mediocre 28-mile total the very next week. Fortunately, my legs finally caught up with my heart on week nine. I have averaged a little over 48 miles each week for the last five weeks.

I have probably rambled on with way too much information, but so far, I am 54 miles ahead of pace to complete my challenge. I am convinced that I will need more a padding than this. I am not looking forward to the Ohio winter as it sends its blistery wind and blankets of snow.

I’ll keep you posted as I “hike it forward” in the coming weeks (just 39 more weeks to go).

Categories: 2019 in 2019, Hiking, Local Hikes, Personal Challenge, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

14-State Challenge: Day Six

Shady Valley

Despite the threat of rain, Rocky and I left Johnson City, TN in route to a trailhead at Cross Mountain on TN 91 near Shady Valley. I was a little nervous about parking because Google Maps did not show any distinctive places, but we found ample parking right at the trailhead. I selected this spot because it was totally in Tennessee and it meandered through wide open pastureland. The clouds gave a nice cover from the sun but withheld any raindrops from falling on our heads (There are some great lyrics for a good country song in there somewhere). The 3- mile hike was easy with beautiful views of the mountains surrounding the fields. Rocky and I successfully climbed over a couple of stiles as we avoided cow patties along the way. There were no cows in the fields to sing to, but we heard their mooing off in the distance. Returning to the trailhead, Rocky and I walked (SOBO) toward Iron Mountain Shelter for a couple of miles. The forest was so much different than the open pasture – both so beautiful in their unique ways.

Gentle Rain

We piled our packs and trekking poles in the car and headed down TN 91 to Damascus, Virginia. The half-hour drive was still back roads, but the curves were not as bad as yesterday and the seasickness pills were unnecessary. The trail town of Damascus is the site of Trail Days held every May which boasts as being the largest event of the AT with reunions, talent shows, music, and a hiker parade. Rocky and I gather a few Passport stamps including Dave’s Place, a hostel where I slept during my 2014 thru-hike. Before heading out for a hike north of the city, we stopped in a wonderful little shop called “It’s a God Thing, Too.” This thrift shop is the ministry of One Way Baptist Church in town. Rocky found a couple of purses, a pair of sandals, and some snazzy shorts, but the biggest reward of the shop was meeting Kim and Gail. These two sweet women were volunteers who love the Lord and have such an impactful ministry in this trail town. They shared about the light they share with the community and the thru-hikers throughout the year. They have a special ministry of hospitality during Trail Days. They invited us to return next year and help share the light.

Mount Rogers Visitor Center

Rocky and I walked through the town and ended up hiking some of the Virginia Creeper Trail as it junctional with the AT. As we left the VA. Creeper Trail and headed north on the Appalachian Trail, it began to gently rain. The canopy kept us surprisingly dry, but the moisture created a tropical rainforest effect on the path. Our glasses began to fog up and the sweat began to roll. We climbed for a mile or two before turning around and retracing our steps back to Damascus.

Driving 12 miles out of Damascus, we came to I-81, which was quite a change from the narrow, tight turns of the twisty country roads of yesterday. The drive up I-81 led us to the exit for Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. The AT crosses right in front of the Visitor Center. We stopped at the center to get a Passport stamp and then headed down the trail. In 0.2 miles we arrived at Partnership Shelter (one of the few shelters on the AT where you can order pizza delivery). At the shelter, we met a young man (and his dog) who was section hiking and about to get off the trail to celebrate his birthday. About a mile and a half down the trail it began to rain again. Rocky and I turned around and about halfway back we were surprised by a loud thunderclap. We noticed how much faster we walk when under pressure. Arriving safely back at the welcome center, we slid into our Old Faithful Toyota and made our way to Marion, Virginia.

Rowdy over the Stiles

We stopped at a wonderful restaurant that Rocky found online called the Sisters Café and Gifts. Our waitress was so gracious and friendly. We enjoyed some delicious food and a piece of pie that was as far away from Whole-30 as you can get, but worth every calorie. They invited me to sign a wall in the restaurant devoted to thru-hikers. Rocky and I relaxed after a good day of hiking, laughed at all our inside jokes, and left the Sisters Café full and content.

We have arrived at our hotel for the evening and look forward to Grayson Highlands and the wild ponies tomorrow.

Categories: 14-State Challenge, Appalachian Trail, Damascus, Rocky, Rowdy, Shady Valley, Tennessee, Virginia | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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