Thursday, April 4, 2019

Stiles Falls

I am on a mission to find hikes within a 30ish minute drive of Christiansburg, VA.  I have found that I really enjoy bringing animal shelter dogs on my hiking endeavors, but unfortunately the animal shelter hours necessitate that I find some shorter, closer-to-home hikes.  This time, Stiles Falls came to the rescue!  I cannot believe that I had never heard of this hike until now.  Apparently, I was one of the only ones because this hike was quite well traveled.  The hike leads to a pretty waterfall via a ~4 mile round trip moderate (edging on easy) hike.

Because I had the pup with me, I was a bit distracted with my photos and you'll notice that most are of her rather than the scenery, but hopefully you can look past the pup and get an idea about the hike!  The waterfall is at a pretty rocky area without a ton of room to spread out, and since it was a busy day and Azilia doesn't love other dogs, we didn't spend too much time at the waterfall itself.

In case you're looking for a hiking buddy, check out Miss Azilia.

Azilia was a rockstar on the hike. She was pretty determined to climb out of the hatchback area into my lap on the drive over, but once we got to hiking, she was a superstar. She loved the creek and even took herself for a dive at one point. Over obstacles, she took a "balls to the wall" approach and almost took us for a nosedive a time or two, but otherwise, she was a pleasure on leash.

She passed by numerous hikers happily and was even a joy to walk past the other dogs that we passed (we gave all a wide berth, but she was beautifully non-reactive and redirected her attention well for treats). She just exudes happy energy!

I don't think we fully tired her out, but she did nap most of the way home, so we'll call it a win.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Rice Fields (Again!)

I'm really struggling to keep up with posting when I go on hikes these days, but today was a unique experience that I'm excited to share.  I'm a regular volunteer with the local animal shelter and they allow seasoned volunteers to take the adoptable dogs out now and again for "outings."  This opportunity enriches the dogs' lives and allows the volunteers to have some fun with the dogs outside of the shelter and immediate surrounding area.  Today, Casey and I picked up "Olivia" a coonhound (or pointer?) mix and took her on a trip to Rice Fields.

Miss "loud and proud" was not pleased with the car ride, but was quite happy with the destination. She drooled a good quart before arrival at the hike, but spared us any vomiting in the car. For that, I was grateful!

She was thrilled to be freed of the vehicle and even showed us that she didn't mind wearing a hiking pack. It was too big for her and we didn't need any help carrying her stuff, so we didn't ask her to wear it except to snap a photo, but she didn't mind it at all.

She was marvelous on the hike up and at the top. She even made friends with a couple who was at the top with us. On the trek back down, she caught the trail of some hikers ahead of us and went into full coonhound mode. We apologized (loudly, above her baying) to the hikers in front of us. Eventually, they took a different trail - quite possibly to get away from the hound dog music - and the baying stopped. Who needs raccoons when you can track humans?

I wish I could say we tired her out, but I do think that she enjoyed her adventure. She was desperate to eat my sandwich at the top and still needs to work on her manners in that regard, but is starting to get the hang of "sit means good things come."  Overall, she's a wonderful pup and I so hope that she finds a fantastic home soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Rice Fields (Also way overdue!)

Although I have long since graduated, I decided that it would be a good time to use one of the nice perks that I'm offered as a university employee and take a class for fun.  This semester, I picked a freshman-level digital photography class and have been having a blast.  For one of our assignments, we were asked to submit photographs highlighting the importance of using light to your advantage.  As luck would have it, Casey and I picked a day with fascinating weather for a hike right as this assignment was in session.  It led to some neat photos.

Rice fields used to be a much longer, much more challenging hike, but at some point in the last several years, the AT was rerouted and the parking coordinates changed.  As a result, the hike is now only about 5 miles round trip and quite a nice little jaunt to the top.

AT Marker as the trail clears to the "overlook" (not so much to overlook on this day!)

Midway up the trail

Spider web

Another web

More foggy trail

Casey at the top in front of the "views"

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Beehive Trail, Maine

This might just have been the most terrifying hike of my life.  At only 2 miles, it was "easy" in terms of the cardiac workout provided.  And yet, I thought I might have a heart attack.  The sign at the bottom encouraged would-be-hikers to consider whether they had a fear of heights, and if so, to perhaps consider an alternative route. 

"Pshaw," I thought.  "I'll be fine.  I'm not that afraid of heights."

Cue about .6 miles later when I was clinging to the side of a cliff face, physically shaking, and weighing my options for escape from the cliff.  A helicopter wouldn't be able to get me there, I reasoned.  And going down sounded far worse than going up.  So up I climbed.  Cursing and trembling, and gripping the iron bars with white knuckles, but climbing none-the-less.  This torture only lasted for .2 miles or so, thank the lord.  And fortunately, the top was a very pretty sight.

I think if you asked Casey, he would tell you it was an amazing hike.  Me?  Apparently I do have a fear of heights.  I may not be returning to hike the Precipice.

That trail is about 18 inches - 24 inches wide.  And this was the non-scary part.  But the views!

Mount Lafayette, New Hampshire

Wow.  What can I say?  This hike both kicked my butt and was one of my favorite all-time hiking experiences.  We hiked up via the Falling Water trail and then cut along the Franconia Ridge trail and then the Old Bridle Path back down.  I was extremely glad that we hiked it this way.  It allowed for an upward scramble up the steepest portion of the hike (hiking down the slippery rocks would have been concerning).  It also let us see some beautiful views while on the way down the trail on the other side.


Franconia Ridge Trail - take a look at the people in the photo to give you perspective!

At the summit of Mt. Lafayette

Falling Water Trail on the way up

Casey at falling water trail

Franconia Ridge Trail again

Mount Mansfield, Vermont

Casey and I returned from a roadtrip to the Northeast a few weeks ago and I'm now getting around to posting the photos.  We did Mount Mansfield while traveling through Vermont and spent the following night in the adorable town of Stowe.  Stowe was by far one of our favorite stops of the trip and this hike was an enjoyable one as well.  Not half as tough as Mount Lafayette in New Hampshire, it still afforded some magnificent views, and much of the hike was above the treeline.

We took the CCC road (including Eagle's cut trail) to Sunset Ridge Trail to Long Trail and then back via Halfway house trail to the CCC road.  I was glad that we took the Sunset Ridge Trail up - it afforded wonderful views.

emerging from the treeline

wooden paths near the summit

Casey at the summit

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Kelly's Knob

I haven't been to Kelly's Knob in years.  However, with the spring weather setting in, Casey and I decided that it was time to get hiking again.  This time, we headed to the trails with some of his coworkers. 

The first notable adventure of the day was that my parking coordinates were sorely off (apologies to those of you who have used them previously).  We drove an extra .8 miles before k-turning around on the narrow mountain road and heading back to the true coordinates.  I've since updated them on this blog.  After a minor fiasco of finding our whole party, we embarked on the hike.  It was just as I remembered it.  Painfully steep for the first several tenths of a mile and then a nice stroll of a ridge hike along a rocky ridge line.  Overall, just a nice place to be.  This particular Saturday was fairly quiet, although we did share the lookout rock with one other group.

The view

our group at the rock

campsite just a few feet from the overlook rock