Monday, October 15, 2012

1000 MILES and the Best Trail Magic!

Cute Husband and I were on the cusp of 1,000 miles on our long multi-year journey to complete the trail before we have great grandchildren and with very little time remaining before it gets too cold for this wussy girl to spend the night outdoors....
So we decided what the hey!  We should motor ourselves down to lovely SW VA for a three day adventure in the woods.
We picked the perfect weekend for weather and the leaves were just starting to change.  Cute Husband is always ready to to scale any mountain, fight off huge bears, pitch tents and carry all the heavy stuff.
Plus, he is incredibly cute...
Ahhh... water was not a problem on this fair hike...
We met a friendly squirrel who offered to capture us at our best.  Actually, we saw very few squirrels.  I think they have all migrated to our back yard to feast on our birdseed.
I love walking in the woods!
Not quite fall colors yet...


We slept at Pine Swamp Branch shelter on the first night, which was a lovely little stone structure thing.  We shared it with a lone Southbounder who was on a mission to complete by mid November.

Making our way across the field to Rice Field Shelter 

I love walking through an unexpected field on the AT!

We were unprepared for the originality and beauty of Rice Field Shelter. 
Here are two of the same pictures of Cute Husband because *&$&#* blogger won't let me delete one.  But, really, who minds looking at him in duplicate?
Rice Field Shelter!
We almost never create fire on the trail, but someone had kindly set us up with all the wood and it was just the two of us, so after Cute Husband removed all the poundage from his back and then set up the tent.....
Sunset from the shelter.
Thanks Buddy!
If you see this exact spot on the trail, we highly recommend you drop your pack and sit a spell. 
Wish I was here right now...
And right here...
1,000 miles is a very long walk.  Granted, it took us 9 years to complete those 1,000 miles, but we are still in awe of our accomplishment. 
The fog greeted us in the morning as we set off for an easy 6 miles followed by a 6 hour car ride home.

The most amazing thing and the best EVER trail magic happened right before we crossed this bridge!  We heard a car blowing a horn and up drove.... STEAMER!  Our favorite of all 2012 Northbounders!   Steamer lives in Pittsburgh and he just happened to pick this exact weekend to help with trail maintenance in SW VA where we just happened to be hiking.   Steamer just happened to be crossing the bridge at the same time we were coming out of the woods.  See what a magical place the AT is?
After hugs galore and promises to hike together next year, we ended the hike knowing we would cross Steamer's path again soon.   Amazing, right?

We took a short detour off the trail to visit this lovely old cemetery.... 
And pay our respects to the people who enjoyed these mountains in the past.
Home!  And filling in the dots on our trusty map.
33 miles
Connecting us all the way up to Mount Greylock in MA.
I do love the AT more than the refrigerator.  I do!
A scan of the note Steamer left us on our BirdCouple license-plated car....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dry Walk in the Woods...

Virginia in August.   Cute Husband and Cute Son #2. 3 Days. 30+ miles. Hot.  Humid.

Our shuttle driver, Don was in the know about the water shortage along the ridge of Brushy Mountain outside Pearisburg and helped us stash some for two days out, when we would really need it.

This river was the last of water we saw for 16 or so miles.
We were quite happy when we first arrived at Jenny Knob Shelter...
It had been a long day of over 17 miles and we were toast and ready for a hot meal of rehydrated food.
Jenny Knob's stream was completely dry.   We had a few ounces left to hike to our stashed gallon jug which was a couple of miles from the shelter.  We ate what remained of the peanut butter and feel asleep while it was still light.
Hiking is super hard without water or food.   Another lesson learned regarding food - bring tons of GORP and trail bars... just in case you can't cook.
But happiness was found at Helvey's Mill Shelter.  Water, water, water!
Of course it was a 1/2 mile walk down and back.   But, it felt like a huge celebration.  We partied with a gallon of water and enjoyed a hot meal.  And, we had the Shelter to ourselves.  Helvey's Mill is such a pretty little spot.
Oh, were we done!  But, Cute Husband is even cute when he is dehydrated!
The next morning we enjoyed coffee and filtered tons of water for the short walk 9 mile walk to the car.

I was hiking with my new Gossamer Gear Gorilla Pack - 25 ounces of pure happiness on my back!
We also switched out one sleeping bag for an ultralight down experience.

Our other investment was a new water filter. Hooray for the Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter!  No weight savings over our old filter, but this baby makes filtering so easy!

Unfortunately, that was all the investment BirdCouple could make in one hiking season, so my guys were still lugging around ginormous packs and heavy tents.
Ok, Warren my Love, you are the Trail Boss!

Big thanks to Don who saved our skin by helping us stash some water which really ended up saving the hike.

Big love to Adam, son #2 for spending the Labor Day weekend with us!

I'm begging to go out once more before November and hit 1,000 miles!