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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Mill Creek Nature Park

Normally when I hear the word "nature park," my mind jumps to thoughts of easy dirt walking paths, crying children in strollers, and poorly behaved doodle dogs on flexi leashes.  However, I took a trip to Mill Creek Nature Park at the recommendation of one of the commenters on this blog and was pleasantly surprised.  Although dubbed a "nature park," this system is home to some gorgeous waterfalls, steep trails, and a fantastic single-site campground.  The added bonus?  We didn't see a single other soul while we were there on a quiet winter Sunday.

Although we didn't traverse the entire trail system, the nature park seems to have two separate trail systems; one set of extremely well marked loops (the lower loop was all woods, with no views) and another system that is less well marked, but took us to a campground and some gorgeous waterfalls.  I think that we would have found an overlook if we had wanted to add a few more miles to the hike in the second system.  It's not too far of a drive from Blacksburg either.

You can see a trail map for the second trail system here:

We hiked from the parking area to both waterfalls via the butternut, waterfall, and catwalk trails.  We then retraced our steps to the juncture of the catwalk and waterfall trails, this time continuing on the catwalk trail until reaching the butternut trail and bearing left. The waterfall and catwalk trails were steep, albeit very pretty

We also did the easy lower loop trail which can be seen on a map here:

First waterfall off of the catwalk trail

Casey at the first waterfall

Casey and I at the first waterfall

The second waterfall was tougher to photograph, but this is a bit of it.

Tinker Cliffs - Long Overdue

I'm usually a little bit delayed in posting my hikes, but this is a bit extreme even for me.  I took some friends and colleagues up to Tinker Cliffs back in September and realized that I never posted about our expedition.  It was steeper than I remembered, especially at the steepest part for a few tenths of a mile, but that's likely a direct result of my relatively sedentary desk job that takes up most of my week.  

Group at the top.  

Sarah, Bryan, and Nyko

Casey and I at the peak

Monday, September 11, 2017

Long Point Trail

When I finished my Master's degree in May, Casey's family was kind enough to give me an exceptional graduation gift to send both Casey and I on a whitewater rafting adventure on the New River.  For as much as I love to hike, I'm not a true adventurer at heart and although I was extremely appreciative of the gift, I was more than just a little terrified.  However, I'm also about as frugal as they come and the thought of putting a gift like this to waste was not in the question, so we booked our adventure with ACE adventure resort last weekend.  When we arrived it felt reminiscent of summer camp as a kid.  There was a lake filled with giant, bouncy, water toys, a long gravel road with a grassy camping area at the top, a dining hall, a ping pong table, corn hole, and a big pavilion filled with picnic tables.  The whitewater trip on the lower New turned out to be surprisingly a ton of fun and I made it through the full day without taking a swim (although everyone in our raft did get plenty wet).

In any case, the resort also coincidentally happened to be just down the road from my cousin, so we met up on Sunday and he showed us around.  He took us to Long Point Trail, an easy 3 mile, nearby hike with an astounding view of the New River Gorge Bridge.  Being an amazing naturalist, he was kind enough to help me learn to identify some common plants.  I'm embarrassed to say that for as much as I hike, until yesterday, I couldn't so much as identify a white oak versus a red oak.

View of the New River Gorge Bridge

Casey, Paul, and I at the overlook

A white oak leaf

Chestnut oak leaf

American chestnut tree leaves

Beech tree leaves

White oak bark


Red oak leaf