Its been kinda slow here lately so in an attempt to contribute something positive I’m going to dig up some old trips. Here’s a trip report from this past Easter when I was visiting family and had a chance to go down to Grayson Highlands Virginia.It’s chilly and moist when I get out of the car. I’m out with my 12 year old brother Joseph and his pal J. Personally I’d hoped to go SUL so I can try out my Merrell Trail Gloves for backpacking with a really light pack and an undemanding pace. That might have worked with Joseph but adding a third person complicates things and pack weights go up. This isn’t my trip anymore it properly belongs to Joseph and his first timer friend so I switch to heavier shoes.As we start out hiking I monitor J. How’s your pack feeling? How are your feet? He’s new to the woods but he’s athletic and keeps up fine. Joseph is exited to finally use the pack I gave him for a Christmas present. The SUL pack I’d given him for his birthday was outgrown after just one trip.The trail leads through a dense forest of evergreens. For boys from Virginia this is something new and different.Eventually the trail leads out into the open meadows. This is J.’s first taste of real mountain scenery. It’s also Joseph’s favorite place in Virginia.The boys enjoy the scenery and I take a lot of pictures.After hiking along the ridge past Rhododendron Gap Joseph wants to climb up some rocks. I’m not super enthusiastic, I happen to know if we hike a bit farther the trail takes up to basically the same place. But I can see the excitement in their eyes so up we go and I take some nice panorama shots while the boys get to meet some gentlemen on a thru-hike.We continue on past more beautiful scenery and finally see some of the famous Grayson Highlands ponies.More sceneryAt Massie Gap the ridge walking scenery is pretty much over. For a change of pace I’ve suggested we try following the horse trail which cuts across the Wilson Creek valley rather than following the AT. The boys are all for it so off we go down the trail.The trail leads down off the ridge through a forest. Eventually it crosses the creek. I wade across. Joseph and J. find some rocks to hope across on. Since I’m wet anyway I take their packs to make their rock hopping easier.It’s getting later and the creek is a good place to camp. I suggest we camp there but Joseph wants to go on. J. catches the enthusiasm. They want to go all the way to a campsite on the ridge. Off we go as I wish I’d shipped up my nicer pack.We hike fast as darkness approaches. Just as its getting dark enough to break out the headlamps we reach the springs and tank up on water. We’ve pretty much ran out so I want to have water treating while we set up camp.Wind and rain are in the forecast so we break out headlamps and search for a more sheltered campsite than the one by the springs.The tarp we use is one I made for this trip. I did not have a three man tarp so I took some 4mil plastic and used Gorilla tape to create tie out points. It weighs about 2 pounds which actually isn’t bad since it covers all three of us with room to spare. After a quick dinner we settle into bed. In the morning we quickly pack and head out in a drizzle. There isn’t much to see so we just trudge on.As we near the car fog settles in so that we can’t see the mountains. After a stop for snacks we’re on our way home, soggy and muddy but happy.I reflect on the fact that this trip would not have been terribly memorable or rewarding by itself. This trip with a variety of annoyances for me like a poorly fitting pack is more about the giving than the receiving. In the Gila last fall I got to do a trip MY way. This trip was a time to do things Joseph’s way. He’s happy and so is J. so it’s a successful trip.
Edited by Cameron on 01/06/2012 11:20:41 MST.
Great report, thanks! This is my favorite place to go hiking.
Great report - I find that anytime I'm hiking with others there's an element of compromise by everyone, whether it's pace, location to stop, when to eat, or something else entirely. I'll have to add Mt. Rogers to my list of hikes to do...
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