Day 30, 5/5: M-509, Orchard Shelter (23mi)

It rained quite a bit last night but when we woke it was dry.

We started the morning with a 2000′ climb to White Top at 5200′. All the rain had frosted everything over at these higher elevations…

and there was some snow too!

We spent the rest of the early afternoon working our way toward and over Mt Rogers.

More spooky forests.

Barely above freezing but we stayed warm hiking (uphill).

A good view near Mt Rogers.

Then we entered Grayson Highlands and got to see the famous wild ponies!

They were everywhere. Unfortunately, it was cold and a bit windy so we didn’t linger.

We passed the 500 mile mark today!

From here the weather took a turn for the worse. At first it was light snow, then heavier snow. There were a couple of inches of wet snow covering the trees and ground. Our gear kept us relatively dry and warm, but after several hours we were hoping for a dry shelter…but all full 😦 so we pitched our tents at 7:30, ate inside them and went to bed listening to snow/ rain come down. We dropped about 1500′ in elevation so there’s not quite as much snow down here, but definitely wet! I wish I had gotten more pics of the snow covered trees and trail but my hands were too cold to take out of my gloves. Salty did get a video which I should be able to post when I get wifi.

(Photos from Salty)

Hopefully things dry out and warm up tomorrow. Otherwise we might need to make a quick hitch into town. Hard to believe we were drinking tons of water and getting baked by the sun just three days ago!


This wasn’t in the brochure!

Day 29, 5/4: M-486, Near Lost Mtn Shelter (17mi)

It was a leisurely morning, but since we are used to getting up early we were walking over to Mojoes for breakfast by 7:30 for some of their great food. This is Pharmacist (his mom sent him off with a lot of Meds) showing off a couple of his many plates.

We headed out of town on the Virginia Creeper Trail, a well known rail trail that attracts a lot of visitors. It’s very civilized with bathrooms, benches and garbage cans every so often.

Walking over one of the many old railroad trestles.

The beautiful Laurel River accompanied us most of the way today.

We are still in the lowlands but will be hiking over the highest point in Virginia tomorrow, Mt. Rogers.

Lots of moss all over the trees and rocks.

This is a black Rat snake which are fairly common on the AT around here. This one didn’t even flinch and almost looked like a toy. Some of them can grow up to 8′ long.

These were some folks we met while admire ng the snake. They were out riding the Creeper Trail for the day.

We were camped among the spruce trees again on a soft pine needle floor…perfect!

This is John. He is my personal trail angel for finding my wool cycling sleeves which I wear almost everyday (he’s holding them). I accidentally dropped them from a pocket on my pack several days ago and he saw my plea for help in the shelter register (with my phone #) to keep an eye out. He was hiking southbound on a weekend trip and stumbled upon them…Then was nice enough to send them ahead to me. I hope to be reunited with my sleeves on Sat…thanks John!

This is a video of Laurel Falls from two days ago: