Monday, August 24, 2009

Out Came the Sun and Dried Up All the Rain (Eventually...)

Change is often hard. Change is often sad. Change may require some intense therapy.

Cute Husband and I dropped off young Adam at Virginia Tech to begin his first year of college.


Oh, sure, he was excited and thrilled to start at the university of his choice. He unpacked his college life and created his dorm room as we stood watching and offering silly adult advice.

Maybe you should put your socks in the smaller drawer ----or if you put your computer here, you won't get too tangled in the wires--- or see these hooks? That is where you hang your towel.

After a few hours of this, Adam proclaimed himself adult and gave us the boot.

We walked out of his dorm room and across campus. See the duck pond, Honey? I bet he takes a girl for a romantic walk there someday.

I hope he remembers what a Mallard looks like, so he can impress her with his bird knowledge.

For the time being, little Adam didn't need us.

We drove out of the campus (searching to see if we could still see his dorm room window) and headed for the mountains.



Perhaps the best kind of therapy.

Cute Husband planned the perfect hike which started with a very short walk into the woods to the Thunder Hill Shelter. We (Cute Husband) unpacked and set up the traveling LoveNest while the sun was still high in the sky.

It was one of the few nights that we got into camp early enough to enjoy a few hours of daylight before dinner.

It was also one of the few hikes that packing a little extra weight seemed reasonable.

Pinot Noir from rubber-like camp cups. We clicked rubber and toasted Adam. We endlessly wondered what he was doing at that exact moment.

We enjoyed some lovely dehydrated food which went perfectly with the red I had selected.

We checked out the fine artwork in the privy.

Hail to you, Queen Becky!

Anyone that could spend that much time in a privy working on their art deserves a bow!

As the evening progressed, we were joined by other section hikers who decided to set up camp outside the shelter.

Possibly, because by this time, we had spread BirdCouple gear throughout and left very little inviting space in the shelter....

The rain started as night fell and continued almost until dawn. In the morning, our shelter mates were (luckily) mostly dry and unfazed and excited as we were to start hiking North.

See why I call him Cute Husband?

We put our boots to the mountain to start the 16+ mile walk to the John's Hollow Shelter and the rain decided to return.

A nice steady four hour walk in the rain.

I sang the Itsy Bitsy Spider song as we passed MovieTime, one of our camp mates at the last shelter.

Eventually, the sun did come up and dried some of the rain off our soggy gear.

The sun also gave us our first views of the James River from above.

We just needed to get down there, cross the river and hike up a tiny hill to the shelter.

Even this box turtle looked like he was over the rain.

Voila! The James River after 4 (or was it 6?) more hours of hiking.

It did feel like a huge achievement when we crossed the foot bridge over Virginia's largest river.

Oh, the places the AT takes us!

Teenagers were jumping from the bridge as we passed. One of the girls asked us where we had hiked from. We pointed to a mountain in the distance.

"Wow", she said in the cutest little Southern accent.

After we had completely impressed the teens hanging on the bridge with our exploits, we sauntered (ok, limped) across the bridge as an Osprey (a new AT bird!) flew over us and a train chugged by on the opposite bridge.

We made it to John's Hollow Shelter and peeled off wet socks and clothes and crashed.

The next morning was sunny and dry and gave us the opportunity to actually see what a lovely spot we had landed in the night before.

Cute Husband creates coffee.

Cute Husband explains to me the importance of properly caffeinating before climbing big mountains.
See why I call him Cute Husband? And, it was a climb.

Two big climbs with more views of the James.

All I have to say is that the map didn't lie.

Ok, this is not the actual map, but (divide by 2) it does have some similiar aspects.
Apparently, mushrooms can survive at these high altitudes without oxygen.
We passed the spot that marked where a 4 year old's body had been found in 1891 after she strayed from her school and we added a rock to her memorial.

We stopped at the top of our last climb and stared in silence and breathed deep.

We miss you Adam!


Kelly said...

Happy Trails, Bird Couple! We hope that you are coping well enough with Adam off to college. You must miss him so much. We are very happy that he is a Hokie, though. (We have several in our family!)

I'm glad that I'm not the only one who sings "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" while hiking for the upteenth day in rain. That spider's perseverance is pretty inspiring.

I enjoyed reading about your adventure in the James River area. I love the Foot Bridge and what Bill and Laurie Foot (aka "Happy Feet") did to make the bridge a reality.

GG and I fondly remember crossing the bridge and then riding in a nice man's truck to re-supply in Glasgow. We consumed some great biscuits at the diner and later sat outside of the local grocery eating ice cream straight from the carton. We then hiked on to the Punchbowl Shelter and slept to the sound of very vocal peeper frogs! They were loud enough to drown out the sound of snoring hikers in the shelter, so it worked out fine. :)

Keep on trucking, and enjoy autumn in the mountains.

(GA-ME '07)

Chris Petrak said...

I don't know why I have been so long getting to this posting, but I am glad I finally did. Engaging journey from the dorm to the trail. Thanks