We left town and the rain held out. It was a beautiful day (We have a record of leaving town in the rain or with a threat of rain.). During this section we put in bigger mile days in a row to make up for the days we were behind on our schedule and even had our first night hike under a full moon. (We had the mission of meeting family for Easter).
Lunch by a river or creek is always the best. The girls do some rock hopping and feet soaking. This will be so appreciated on warmer days to come!
As we climbed to the top of Buzzards Rock we ran into a lot of familiar faces and got to hear the “purple couple” play their instruments on top. The girls enjoyed the music and continued to sing one of their songs down the trail. The people you meet on the trail become your “trail family”. The social interaction is great for the girls, especially as we generally avoid shelters and larger tent camping areas. We are grateful for the kind, amazing, and supportive people we have met on the trail.
We finally made it to Rhododendron Gap and to Grayson Highlands (Land if the wild ponies!). The girls had been waiting since we started the trail in Georgia to see the wild horses and it was a huge motivation. We passed the 500 mile mark! Which was an excitement but still no horses. It was rainy and we walked through the clouds. We passed the stiles and fencing and were in and out of the state parks and protected land, yet we did not see a single wild horse. I had seen many years ago and everyone kept telling us we were going to see them anytime. The weather was so bad we figured they were smart and were hiding out, but this did not make for happy campers. We had a bunch of long faces and disappointment. We considered going back and waiting for the weather to clear. As we approach the Scales, the end of wild horse territory, and were about to leave, miraculously we came upon seven wild ponies! It was the greatest feeling. Such an amazing day. One of the best with its highs and lows!! Sometimes we need the lows to know how great the highs are! Everyone walked on with a great feeling (even with the threat of terrible storms to come).
Yes the rain and high winds continued. We heard many talk of finding a town to go to yet we stayed put (well seasoned from the ice storms and snow and freezing temps in Georgia and North Carolina). We sheltered in the tent, had a nice evening and the snow came in the night. We woke to a winter wonder land once again. Temperature changes are drastic morning to night and the day ended with plenty of sun.
One of our biggest challenges on the trail continues to be learning to work as a family. We are all learning so much about ourselves but also how to work and function as a close knit family unit. Especially as we continue to reside in one 4 man tent to stay warm and drop weight out of our packs. Although this continues to be what we work on now, it will also ultimately be the biggest reward! It is so great to watch the girls help each other out when needed and grow together.
The wildflowers are blooming and cover the trail. Baby bunny says the trail has been kissed by the fairies.
We stopped to resupply at the Alpacca farm. What a treat. We loved it there and the girls got to spend time with animal and pets that they miss back home. Again we are so grateful for the family and friends taking care of our animals back home. You are helping make this amazing adventure possible!!!
Walking through pastures up and over stiles is new element.
This is the 1/4 way marker!! Can you believe it. We have hiked 1/4 of the way to Maine. Hiking north we will see you down the trail!
Bunny hops into all the trees and bunny homes she finds along the trail just to test them out.
A couple other highlights of this section were seeing other kids and families out backpacking. Spending time in nature and the elements provides an unmatched connection to nature and our world. I am constantly in awe of how many things the girls explore, notice, evaluate, question, process and think about the more they are out here and connected to the land. We send our encouragement to all families to make time to spend outdoors.
The girls also enjoyed the Mount Rodgers visitors center with the exhibits and field guides.
And we can’t go without mentioning a gratitude to all the trail angles and trail magic along the way. (These are the people who stop and help or leave a soda,candy or meal along the trail). We were amazing by the one room school house with snacks,drinks,and supplies enough to outfit an army. You all are amazing. Thank you for keeping us motivated and moving.