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SUL with My Kid Brother
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/07/2010 14:40:50 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

SUL with My Kid Brother

William Johnson
Love it on 12/07/2010 15:21:25 MST Print View

I have a younger brother, and lacking any type of tailoring skill, prefer to go surfing and beach-running with him as that never involves tarps, packs, or jackets. I greatly enjoyed reading through this story, and am CERTAIN I couldn't keep up with either of you. Thank you for setting the pace at: storytelling, and letting me walk a few steps beside you.

Edited by Steamboat_Willie on 12/07/2010 15:22:30 MST.

Ed Engel
(Doorknob) - F

Locale: West of what you think is west
Joseph on 12/07/2010 15:36:32 MST Print View

I forsee a future triple crowner in him.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
SUL With My Kid Brother on 12/07/2010 19:45:27 MST Print View

Thank you for such a great story! My Dad introduced me to hiking when I was about four and though I'm 58, I still remember our hikes in the woods (as well as all our family's outdoors trips spent camping and fishing)with joy. You have given Joseph a wonderful gift, and something that he will remember for his entire life. Our society is so worried about "family values." I can't think of a better place to create family values than the outdoors.

I want to do some hiking in that area - as a horse lover, I especially want to see the ponies. I was in the New Forest in England, where wild ponies roam, and it was so cool to see them up close. The foals would come close but the mares were very shy.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Thanks and Ponies on 12/07/2010 19:49:13 MST Print View

Thanks ya'll.
Kathy if you ever want to do some hiking in this area shoot me an email. I've been through it about six times so I can point you toward the best views and ponies.

Edited by Cameron on 12/07/2010 20:52:35 MST.

Doug Linker
(Linker) - F

Locale: Southern Ontario
re:SULwith kid brother on 12/08/2010 05:40:27 MST Print View

great story and i give you an A++ for being a great big brother!! thx for sharing

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Thanks and Ponies on 12/08/2010 07:05:51 MST Print View


Great trip report! Your willingness to devote your time and your talents to your younger brother Joseph is deserving of high praise. He seems pointed in all the right directions now let's see if you can keep up! :-)

>>I've been through it about six times so I can point you toward the best views and ponies.<<

My buddy "Lazarus" and I will be in the Grayson Highlands on our next trip. We're planning to go in mid-September 2011. All tips and pointers will be very much appreciated.

Loved the pictures. Got any more to share?

Party On,


Kerry Rodgers
(klrodgers) - MLife

Locale: North Texas
SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/08/2010 07:57:19 MST Print View

Luke, it is AWESOME that you are sharing your backcountry experiences with your brothers and other youth. I'm still trying to get my 6- and 8- year-olds to leave the car-camp and try backpacking with me. (Joseph's organization and drive are not in our family's genes :) You give me encouragement to keep trying! --kerry

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Thanks and Ponies on 12/08/2010 22:57:35 MST Print View

Thanks, Luke! I definitely will!

donald buckner

Locale: Southeast U.S.
Thanks on 12/08/2010 23:23:44 MST Print View

Thanks for sharing your experience on this trip with your little brother. I'm a little brother (even though I'm 50), so I know how important it is to do family activities that are beneficial in so many ways like this trip was to you both. Great article!

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/09/2010 09:22:07 MST Print View

Nice job on the photography Luke and Joseph. I especially liked the panoramic shots of the verdant green hills. The Irish say there are 40 shades of green, and you must have encountered them all on that trip. Wild horses are such noble creatures, but I'm surprised that they have them in Virginia. I thought it was more of a western thing. I liked hiking at Joseph's age myself, but back them the weight of the gear was prohibitive. We are blessed today to have modern ultralight gear that makes it easier for younger and older(like me) folks to get out there. Keep on truckin' guys!

Joseph Mezick
(NJRidgeHiker) - MLife

Locale: USGS: Allentown, NJ
SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/09/2010 18:18:36 MST Print View

I enjoyed reading your story, mainly because it brings back nice memories.

The Grayson Highlands is also one of our favorite places and we hope to return soon. The area has a lot to offer within the distance of a circuit day hike. My wife and I hiked from Massie Gap to about a mile from Mount Rogers in 2008. The terrain, wildlife, and vegetation is truely remarkable.

I also remember about the time of when I was in the Boy Scouts. To earn our Hiking Merit Badge we had to hike 20 miles between sunrise and a few hours before sunset (so we could setup camp). Heavy canvas for tents and packs, plus heavy cotton for garments, and heavy leather for boots were the materials for that time. The experience was more like a military expedition.

Joseph demonstrates some of the qualities of a good leader. I would like to read a version written in his own words if he has an interest in sharing his trip report. He may have what it takes to become a great outdoor adventure advocate.

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
re:SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/11/2010 17:18:11 MST Print View

Wow, wish I'd had a big brother like you! I loved your story; your brother is so lucky, but I have a feeling he's gonna hold his own quite well. Kudos to you for being such a great "big brother"!
Thanks for sharing,

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Anwers to all those questions - Sorry I'm late on 12/11/2010 19:16:28 MST Print View

Thanks for all the compliments ya’ll. Some of you were asking specific questions about the area we visited etc. so I’ll try and answer those.

John Donewar – On where to go, if you look at a map the AT and the Crest Trail make a loop through the area. This is where most of the best scenery. Another really good section is the section of the AT between Thomas Knob Shelter (just under Mt. Rogers) and Rhododendron Gap (Where the loop begins). There are multiple access points but I would be sure to hit these spots. You can see ponies in pretty much all of the big meadows. I like the AT from Elk Garden on Hwy 58 too because it goes through some nice evergreen forests and you can do a side trip up Mt. Rogers. I would get the Nat. Geo. Map its really good and shows where the bolds are. Be advised some parking lots have a problem with break ins so you might want to research it. For a while Elk Garden where we started was a bad spot but it seems to have improved. Grayson Highlands state park is probably the safest. September should be a nice time to go. If there’s any chance of bad weather be ready for it to be worse than they predict. The mountains seem to change the weather quiet a bit.

Kerry – Kudos for working on getting your kids out there. I didn’t start Joseph out backpacking cold turkey. We started with a lot of day hikes along the Blue Ridge Parkway. I would bring one or two of his buddies from church and we would find a place to hike. I always made sure there were good rocks to climb on and we usually found a tree or two too climb. Than on the way home we’d always get milkshakes. He loved all that so backpacking was a natural extension of the day hikes. At first we took buddies on backpacks too. The kids helped entertain each other which was good. It wasn’t like they were just backpacking they were also having a “sleepover” with friends. Now he doesn’t need that and sometimes he likes having big brother all to himself.

John Coyle – Thanks for the photography complement. I just used a point and shoot and made sure it wasn't over exposed. I believe BPL may have edited them a bit to so I can’t take full credit.

Joseph – I don’t know if I could talk Joseph into doing his version of the story or not. Maybe I could see. I kinda think he’d feel self conscious about it but I like the idea.

By the way I don’t want to toot my horn and claim to being the world’s best big brother, I’m definitely far from perfect. Being the oldest I didn’t have a big brother but a couple of older guys really helped me out when I was little. To whatever extent I’m a good big brother I really own to my dad and the older boys who showed me how it was done.

Edited by Cameron on 12/11/2010 19:17:24 MST.

folecr r
(folecr) - M
dude... on 12/12/2010 00:07:55 MST Print View

props! a+! +1 awesome! etc. etc.

Mark Jones
(hibisk55) - M

Locale: The Back of Beyond
SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/12/2010 06:55:26 MST Print View


Great trip report. I know the area well. Most importantly, thanks for being such a good "big brother". Priceless!

Happy Trails,


Thomas Gauperaa
(gauperaa) - F

Locale: Norway
Re: SUL with My Kid Brother on 12/14/2010 05:17:02 MST Print View

Great post, really enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Anwers to all those questions on 12/14/2010 06:58:00 MST Print View


Thank you for the info on the Grayson Highlands. We will put it to good use and I know that it will make our trip that much more enjoyable.

Party On,


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Route advice on 12/14/2010 13:03:27 MST Print View

John I hope your trip goes well. I just thought of a couple more things.
1. I really like the Nat. Geo. maps because they show the springs. They run most of the time (I've never seen them dry) but if its been a real dry year you can call the park and ask if they're flowing.
2. The spring along the Crest Trail has a nice campsite beside it and another site back in the woods on the other side of the trai. The scenery here is not as dramatic as Wildburn Ridge but its still very nice. A bonuse is that there are usually less people along this trail. Its not the AT and is a bit far for day hikers. Here's a picture of the general area

Crest Trail

3. Its more popular but another good camping area is along the AT north of Thomas Knob shelter. The trail basically follows the ridge for a mile with meadows and views to the right with and evergreen forest on the left. Heres a picture. Theres water at the Thomas Knob spring and if you go farther there's another spring below the horse trail.

Along the AT north of Thomas Knob

4. Where the AT enters the state park just before Massie gap there are a couple of campsites with more farther back if you explore around. This is a real pretty area but its accessible so you'll see more people. Also no water as I remember.


Personally I would plan on exploring during the day and stopping by one of the more scenic spots for the night, theres no reason not to have an awesome campsite. Hope this helps.


Edited by Cameron on 12/14/2010 13:05:36 MST.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Many Thanks :-) on 12/14/2010 20:01:21 MST Print View


I hope one day to be able to return the favor.

Many thanks for all the "inside scoop"!

Beautiful pictures!

Party On,