Traveling the 3 hours to Virginia we had a bit of rain and it was very cloudy so we hoped that it would clear up so we could see out from the mountains we were hiking and warm up a bit. We stopped for lunch at a Subway and met a really nice local guy who we invited to eat with us and he gave us some good tips about the part of the trail we were hiking. Dropped 1 car off at the end location and then came back to the starting point to begin - yeay!
Hiked 3.8 miles in Jefferson National Forest. Today was mostly uphill. It was a very misty lovely cool fall day. Perfect hiking weather! The fall leaves are gorgeous. Some parts of the trail are really rocky and some of the rocks were moss covered. We camped in a clearing near a beautiful meadow. We made dinner using boiled water boiled in a cute little pot on the propane stove that we shared and then added the water to dehydrated meals. Tonight was Polynesian Chicken, broccoli and cheese mashed potatoes and then Greg and I split a freeze dried ice cream sandwhich. I think I could have eaten 12 of those - Yum. Actually everything was really good. The mashed potatoes kind of turned out like soup but it was cold, so it was perfect! The funny of the day was the following conversation: Robbie: "This (dinner) is surprisingly satisfying." Philip (worked with Greg and Rob at UNCTV): "Yeah it is, sitting out here in a field full of poop. If someone brought this to me in a restaurant, I'd throw it in their face."
Philip found a cool survivor man area that blocked the wind and we all hung out after dinner and had a nice circle chat time. It was too foggy and cloudy for cell phone reception tonight so I didn't get to say goodnight to my babies. :(
We each carried part of Greg's "hetero-life partner" (one redeeming part of the gymnastics movie "Stick-it") Robbie's 3 Man tent in our packs and decided to all stay in it versus pack in another heavy tent. Which may sound very weird and creepy but really it wasn't - just logistics. Greg was in the middle of course and I felt just like one of the boys. hahahaha. I am sitting here writing by the light of my headlamp in the tent as we speak listening to them both laughing like school boys. It is contagious. I laughed like a school boy myself, just a little higher pitched. They are hilarious. They are telling old scouting stories, repeating lines from movies and talking about snakes in their boots and what would everyone do if we just started honking the bear horn over and over. I brought a paper back Book of Mormon and just read in Mormon about Moroni being alone to tell the great destruction of his people and hiding the records up and "Wither I go it mattereth not." It feels very real out here in the wind with the tent flapping. How difficult that must have been.
Last night we all slept terrible!! It was so windy that the tent kept flapping franticly and spraying water on our faces. We could hear people from the other tent snoring. I woke Greg up once because it sounded like a bear snorting and then I kept imagining one just outside the tent getting ready to bite my face- eeeek! I had to keep changing which side I slept on every half hour or so, so that my arms could take turns falling asleep. We got up for good around 6 to catch the sunrise. It was freezing, but worth it and no one was sleeping anyway. We had fun taking pictures jumping in a field after that.
Breakfast was adding water to dehydrated eggs and bacon bits and gravy with sausage bits in it. I think everything tastes good when you are camping really, but It was just ok. The bacon and sausage had the consistency of jerky - stayed really chewy. hehehe.
Today we hiked about 9.5 miles. We stopped to refill our water at Scales Horse Coral and we used a really good filter but the sign saying "Water untested, boil 5 min." made me slightly nervous. Holy Smokes the trail was gorgeous today. The trees and hillsides were glorious. We crossed 3 small streams. The landscape changed alot, We felt like we went through Narnia and then Middle Earth. We climbed a quaint little A-frame ladder to get over a barbed wire fence and went through a narrow gap in a stretch of Rock aptly named "Fat Man's Gap." We stopped at a lovely spot for lunch and made our dehydrated pad-thai. It was actually pretty good too. Then we continued hiking and made it into Grayson Highlands National Park. Almost immediately we saw one of the wild ponies the highlands are famous for. The ponies love the hikers and visitors and we got to pet them and it was so fun. Everyone we have met on the trail has been so nice. We met a local family hiking around the highlands and they took our phone numbers on a toilet paper roll to call our families and let them know we were doing fine since we hadn't got cell service back yet. The second half of today the trail was pretty rocky. It was a little tough on the ankles and knees and I snapped my walking stick in half stepping off of a really big rock. It gets so cold and windy when the sun goes down at 6:30. We found the perfect place to camp on Mt. Rogers in a sheltered area of trees that already had a fire pit made. This area is really crowded actually. There were some scouting groups etc. It was kind of comforting though having the noise around. No bears will be bothering us tonight. :) Dinner was not good tonight. Jamaican BBQ Chicken and rice and a side of red beans and rice. They were kind of crunchy and spicy but with no taste and they actually tasted identical to me. I wish I had a snickers bar and a big bowl of soup...and a hot tub...yeah!! :) The great news today is that we finally got cell signals and got to speak to our families - Hooray!
We all slept way better with the wind cut way down and the tent not spraying water in our faces. I didn't get cold and for whatever reason my arms didn't fall asleep as much either. I remember going to sleep a little thirsty because I was too lazy to get out of the tent and find my water in the cold. Never do that. Robbie woke up once in a claustrophobic panic because Greg had accidently squished him against the tent wall and he couldn't find the zipper in his sleeping bag to get out. hehehe, It was very funny to hear him describe it.
Woke up to another beautiful day. Made a really yummy warm blueberry granola and hot chocolate. :) Hiking down Mt. Rogers, Robbie spotted two more ponies off of the trail so we hiked up to them and thought it was a lovely way to spend part of the last day! Then we continued on to Thomas Knobb Shelter and refilled our water from a spring there. It was such a pretty hike to Thomas Knobb. Lots of pine trees along the trail made it smell like Christmas! Greg was extra sweet today and always helped me put my pack on and off. Further down the trail the landscape changed to more of a hardwood forest and then to the open hills and fields and the end of our journey. Today we hiked about 5.8 miles. What a great feeling to reach the finish line and a lovely one at that. What an all around great trip! Great sights to see, really genuinely nice hiking company, and a mentally rejuvenating rest from the hectic pace life sometimes has.
We piled into the car and drove back to the starting point to pick up the other car and the plan was to go to Subway again on the way home. We were behind the other car. I kept feeling like there were so many turns in the road and started to feel sick. I told Greg I thought I might throw up. He said to roll down the window so I did and then I waited to see if the feeling would pass and I passed out and threw up IN the car while I was passed out! Greg pulled over and pulled me out of the car still unconscious and then I came to covered in puke in the empty parking lot of a post office. I took me what seemed like forever to figure out where I was and I had a headache the size of Mt. Rogers ;) So we thought I was dehydrated and I changed clothes and Greg and Rob gave me a blessing. Thanks guys. I drank some water and then threw up 4 more time (2 out the window, 2 on the side of the road.) So we kept driving and saw a Blue Hospital sign in Sparta, NC, Alleghany County and they gave me an IV and I felt SOOO much better. It was CRAZY how suddenly it came on. I am grateful It waited until I was finished hiking. I think it was all of the combined prayers that everything would go well for us and at home. I am also grateful the other car didn't see us pull over!! Two witness to me passing out and puking is quite enough thank you :) DRINK MORE WATER. DRINK MORE WATER. DRINK MORE WATER. My new hiking mantra. :)
Big Thank You's to both Greg's parents for taking care of our sweeties during the three days and to my Mom and Natalie for visiting and taking care of the sweeties on Sunday when we had the lovely hospital delay. Love and hugs to you all!