One of my favorite things to help people follow their passion…no matter what that passion might be. My passion, is obviously hiking, and I love to introduce people to backpacking. I guess about 4 years or so ago I started teaching (and co-teaching some years) a Backpacking 101 class. Looking back it’s amazing how it’s evolved and every time I do it a learn a little more and tweak my teaching. The first year it was simply a half day class and then “good bye, good luck and hope you came back and backpack with us.” Then we started doing the class and a “local” backpacking trip at Merchants Millpond State Park for those who take the class. Many problems to be found…we limited the class to 20 participants, and of course like 40 wanted to sign up. Of the 20 that signed up about 15 came to the class and about 3 of those came on the trip. The past couple of years that’s improved…but not by much. So this year I’ve put no limits on the number of participants (which is great cause for my first class I had 30 sign up and 21 show up), and am actually teaching several classes throughout the state…then at the end of it all, all of those students will be invited on the trip. Now…hopefully the past holds true and I don’t end up with like 100 beginner backpackers for the trip…but if I do…GREAT! I have lots of great backpackers who have volunteered to help out, and it’ll be awesome to see all those newbies learn to pitch the tents and the joy of watching the sunset over the mountains or the sun peaking in their tents to wake them up.
So these are some of the photos from the first event. I taught it as the Outings chair for the Chesapeake Bay Sierra Club and as a joint event with York River State Park. John, the ranger, actually took our class last year and had a great time at Cold Mountain…even if he missed the group and ended up doing it as a solo trip. You can read his story here. All photos are by John…thank you, John and York River State park for all your help!
If anyone is interested you can find all the dates here. There are more being added, so just fill out the form to be emailed when one near you is added (p.s. this only applies to Virginia peeps.
Virginia is lucky to have a total of 34 State Parks. Each is gorgeous and unique in it’s very own way. The State Parks sponsor a program called Trail Quest. When you visit 1, 5, 10, 20 and then all the state parks you get a special pin. So I’m going to tackle the challenge of visiting all the 34 state parks and then blogging about them here. I’ve actually already visited quite a few of them, but several I’d like to revisit because I didn’t really get
to wander around them as much as I would have liked. Others…well, I’ve had my fill on…even if they are amazing places…maybe some time away and we’ll go visit in a year or so. They beauty of Virginia is that when you get sick of one place, you’re never too far from another place. I use to live near First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach and was there at least once a week and sometimes more, it was a great quick escape from life. But…after a while, I need a change of scenery, now that I live in the mountains I’m near several state parks…some I’ve visited some I haven’t. So…fasten your seltbelts, my friends, cause it’s road trip time!
2012…34 State Parks…can it be done?
I don’t care how in love a couple is, every couple needs alone time. Time away from the hustle and bustle of life and time to re-fall in love. So this first Challenge is going to be about re-falling in love as a couple and re-falling in love with hiking. Sadly this past semester me nor my husband really got to take time to hike the trails and well my husband says I’m…well….a bitch when I’ve been off the trail too long. So the challenge we are tackling first is the Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club‘s (RATC) 113-Mile Club Patch. The goal is to hike the entire 120 miles that the RATC maintains. Shouldn’t be too hard and we get a cool patch when we’re done. (And yes I realize it’s a 113 mile club but the trail section has expanded to 120 since the original challenge was set.)
So the plan is every Saturday to go do a hike together until we’ve reached the 113 miles-And hopefully spend sunday blogging about it. Some of it we’ve already done, but it’s a great section, so totally worth re-doing! And actually, the RATC makes it really easy because they’ve already broken it down into 13 sections complete with trail maps, trail head directions etc. Don’t know if we’ll stick to the actually 13 section break down, but it’s a great starting point.
This is a photo my good friend, Sage took of me about 2 years ago. (Is that right?) We were heading to Devil’s Marbleyard outside of Lexington to do a backpacking trip. It was suppose to start snowing late Saturday afternoon. So Friday, on the way to the tent I just stayed in my flip flops…well, sadly the weather man was highly mistaken…it started snowing Friday night. Saturday we woke up to very cold, wet, heavy snow…and yes, my toe nails are purple…very ironic considering my feet were turning purple before I made it to my boots. (Yes, I do hike in boots…on occasion…like when it snows…sometimes.)
So me and the hubby went up on Saturday to Shenandoah National Park (we’re trail overseers with the PATC) to work on our section of the AT. Well…as I’d told you all I lost my camera last weekend, well fortunately my mom just recently upgraded her camera so it was a perfect chance to pilfer her old one. While not as cool (or waterproof) as my old one, it’ll work for now. So we pull up to our parking spot and we’re unloading and for a flitting moment I have a debate in my head as to whether or not I should take the camera with me, but I figure hey, we’re just doing trail work, our section isn’t that exciting…I’ll leave it in the car. Well…we go about our day. After lunch I’m heading down the trail back to the part that I’m working on (or more if it’s working on me) and I hear a deer step out on the trail behind me…seriously, like 10 feet from where I stand. So I just stand there and watch her…she doesn’t move, just watches me, so I start walking down the trail…she follows me (stalked by a deer, insane, huh?), so I stop and turn and she walks to with in 10 feet of me and stops, so I walk some more…she follows me. I get to where I’m going and she’s like 20 feet behind me, she keeps following me, then starts munching on leaves, just hangs out with me for like 10-15 minutes. Was so cool! And would have been some great photos of the deer eating…great up close photos…but no, my camera was in the car…trail gods have a very sick sense of humor, this stuff never happens when I have a camera…so speaking of sick humor…
I start working on weeding/pruning the trail and these 3 male hikers starting heading down the trail, so I step off to the side to let them pass…and as they pass I tell them to keep and eye out that my new deer friend was hanging out about 50 yards down the trail on their right. So one of them mentions to me that they had a bear sighting about 400 yards from where my husband is working (further up the trail), I tell them “that’s awesome”…personally, I love bear sightings…I hang out and watch them and try to snap photos (IF I have my camera, which as mentioned above has a tendency not to happen when cool stuff is around)…well they looked at me like I had 3 heads (ahh day hikers, gotta love ‘em)…so, I very quickly assured them that my husband had life insurance, so it’s really quite okay…they looked at me like my 3 heads had sprouted horns and quickly excuse themselves and headed back down the trail. I quietly chuckled and went back to getting my butt kicked by the Appalachian Trail.
You know the old saying…and as usual, my plans went awry. So, I was all “in the groove” of writing on Thursday so I wrote a few post to be put on the blog in the next few days, but I hadn’t loaded the pics for them off my camera yet…no biggie I thought, I’ll do it Friday morning before work, upload everything to wordpress and wahla, blogs done for a few days…well…Friday didn’t exactly go well, so I figured I’d do it Sunday night when I got back from my backpacking trip to Dolly Sods. Well, normally I’m REALLY on top of downloading pics from my camera…well, I haven’t been the last month or so. Well, Sunday at Dolly Sods we did an unplanned bushwhacking expedition…which was exhausting, however, a ton of fun…despite the lobster look I accumulated while on the breezy mountain
top…there was one part where we were bashing our way through mountain laurel that was so thick you couldn’t see the ground, much less put your foot on the ground, we were literally walking on branches…was great fun, however, the mountain laurel claimed my water bottle from my backpack’s side packet, and more sadly it claimed my camera from out of my pocket. Didn’t realize it til we were almost to the parking lot. So…if anyone finds a lost camera at Dolly Sods, could you let me know?!? Please!!
So, I’m not really that upset about the camera…I mean, I’m sad yeah, but, it can be replaced…however, the picturesI’m much more upset about losing. I had pictures of the hubby and I hiking the North Peak Trail (the one I did for September’s edition of Backpacker magazine), some of us breaking the law and breaking into a cemetery (seriously, the fence was broken BEFORE we got there), the butterfly walk I attended at the Hahn Garden at Virginia Tech (some great flower & butterfly photos) and of course, all the great shots of Dolly Sods. Fortunately a few other people took pictures for us, but…still. So, hopefully it’ll turn up…and if not I guess you’ll just have to get pictures I “stole.” And then…I’ll just have a great excuse to go re-visit all those awesome places.