© All Rights Reserved/ No use without permission
© All Rights Reserved/ No use without permission
Yesterday Judy and I joined friends Caroline and Louie for a canoe run down Floyd County's Little River. Finally...and thanks to Floyd Virginia magazine's Luis for coordinating the outing. I've been itching to go canoeing for a long while now.
I brought along my little point and shoot camera. Having never canoed before, I didn't trust taking my Nikon. It's a good thing.
We set off and soon left the group that we had met up with. It wasn't really intentional... we waited at first...that's Judy and Louie in the center of the river. Caroline and I decided to take to a tree to hold our position.
The others took forever though and after a good amount of time, we decided to go on. We paddled along...it felt so peaceful. The banks were full of foliage and rocks...some much more interesting than this one below.
As we traveled along, I kept thinking how I wished I'd have done this sooner. But better late than never I guess. We stopped along a bank to eat. While there, a few of the others had caught up to us and came ashore too.
The group leader took a quick pic of us and soon after, we were on the water again...and again...it wasn't long before we ended up leaving the group behind. I guess we were happier just being by ourselves more quiet than not.
All was going along swimmingly...pun intended...until we reached an old rock dam. It had long ago stopped being used and was broken in parts. I suppose that was about 2/3 of the way through our 3 hour journey. Until then, I was seriously thinking that I might bring my Nikon next time instead of the point and shoot. Everything seemed stable enough...and even in the steering position, I saw that I'd have time to take a picture along the way.
The guy in the water came over to help us and we got to shore without too much trouble and none the worse for wear physically.
Fortunately Judy and Louie were far enough behind not to have been a danger to us in the water. They made it through OK and pulled into shore to see about us. Louie got the canoe emptied of water and after collecting our things and ourselves, we pushed off yet again. The rest of the trip was uneventful...except Caroline could no longer see more than a few yards in front of her.
Here's a picture of the dam taken later by someone else in the group...looks harmless enough...but believe me the water was swirling.
I can't be too hard on myself since it was my first go at canoeing...and too...that where we got into trouble would be a bit tricky for anyone. Still, I was upset to think I contributed to our mishap and felt bad about our losses...Caroline's especially. I did learn a lesson though: EVERYTHING IN DRY BAGS except when using.
Even with it all, I loved being out there and can't wait to do it again...
I'm writing this lying in bed with my legs propped up by pillows and a heating pad at my lower back. I'm not hurt, but I hiked the Rock Castle Gorge Trail today and it did me in. Thank goodness I decided not to take my tripod!
We started this seven mile trek by taking my car to the bottom trail-head and leaving it there, then went back up on the Parkway and traveled to our starting point. It all started out innocently enough:
But we didn't even get out of the pasture when I spotted some white goop on my wrist...and too...part of my camera case. The cap to my sunscreen lotion that hangs from the bag had somehow flipped open and was oozing out all over the place. After getting that under control we headed into the woods. The first thing that struck me was how many branches and trees were down. The winter was very, very hard up here!
The damage continued throughout most of the trail...we had to go under or over or through trunks and branches at several points. This is one of the simpler ones we had to navigate:
It got trickier when we had to cross a grouping of branches where the trail was muddy and going steeply downhill. I managed to keep on my feet and my camera clean though.
It turns out we missed the peak for wildflowers. We only found a few here and there...no sprays of color.
It was hard to focus on taking shots what with walking so arduous: not only was the trail proving to be difficult, but by mile three, my feet were hurting. Ah yes...my troublesome feet. Of course, walking downhill makes ones foot to have a lot of pressure on the forefoot, which of course, caused my neuroma to stab me with every step. By mile four, both feet were feeling fatigue...as were my knees...as was my back. I think I bit off more than I should have...perhaps anytime, but certainly so soon after returning from flat Florida.
About this time came my second "incident". I realized that my Hoodman had dropped off its holder. Now I had to backtrack to find it. Fortunately, I did find it and I didn't have to walk more than about 1/4 mile to do so. It was at the top of this incline:
But despite the pain, the fatigue, and the disappointment at the flower situation, I still could appreciate the beauty of the trail...especially when we got low enough to be near the stream that was running along the trail for most of the way. We crossed it/went through it several times. It was all very peaceful.
As we got towards the bottom...perhaps mile six...I started salivating over the thought of getting into my car. One foot in front of the other for just another mile or so, then relief. And then...a vision of horror: I visualized my car keys sitting in Larry's car's cup holder. I had put them there when I got into his car and by the time we got out of it I forgot they were there.
So here we were: at the bottom of a very big mountain with no means up it and no cell phone service to call Judy to come rescue us. There was nothing we could do but walk another mile or so from the trail-head to the state road where we'd have to thumb our way at least to Tuggle's Gap Restaurant where a phone call could be made. My entire body was objecting. Seven miles was about to turn into at least nine.
But good fortune prevailed. We rounded a bend and spied a dog standing there looking at us. A little ways further, there stood his owner. We were saved! The guy couldn't have been nicer. Not only did he cut short his own time on the trail to help us, but he drove us all the way to Larry's car. We offered to buy him lunch...but it was three o'clock by now and he'd already eaten.
We, on the other hand, had started at 9am and just had a granola bar and water during the past six hours. We were hungry. We drove back to Tuggles Gap and ah, that first sip of beer tasted oh so good! The tacos that went with it did too.
My friend Leta came last Wednesday for a week's visit. It was a great time and the weather cooperated enough to let us get in a few photo hunts. Our first outing was to hike two miles up Buffalo Mountain...to the highest point in Floyd County at 3971 feet.
The view was spectacular. Even with the haze, I could see Pilot Mountain, NC off in the distance. Well, it's a bit hard to see in this shot...but it's there on the horizon line smack in the middle of the frame. It's the hazy bump that is almost the color of the sky.
We sat and relaxed a while on the "summit". While there, a group of hikers came up who were from the Blacksburg area. They meet up every Thursday and go hiking somewhere. This piqued my interest, so had one of them put her number in my phone so I could call and get on their mailing list. Alas, when I tried the number, it was wrong and now I've no way to contact them. Tried internet search. No luck. Oh well...guess I'll start my own group!
The next day I showed off downtown Floyd and later, our Friday Night Jamboree. Saturday was our neighbor's pig pickin' party, but by Sunday we were ready to go again and we went out in search of waterfalls. The first place ended up being off limits...posted "keep out"...and confirmed by a local that we ought not go in. We decided to heed.
We went on to Bottom Creek Gorge near Roanoke where the trail takes you to a 200 foot waterfall. At first we wondered if we could/should venture in. I mean, what would you think if you read this sign:
In case you can't read the middle sign it says that the trail is very challenging and you should be in very good physical condition before you attempt it. And look at that Caution sign! Being adventurers, we decided to at least start in and see what we'd find. Turns out, the trail wasn't any of these things. Glad Leta took this shot, because we got a good laugh after the fact.
Here's Leta romping through. The trail was hard to keep up with for all the leaves on the ground.
The four mile hike took us through the woods to a lookout where we could see the Bent Mountain Falls...where Bottom Creek forms a stair step series of waterfalls known as the "kettles".
We couldn't see a way to go down to the bottom, so this was the only vantage point we could get of it. Leta took this shot of me taking the above picture. I really like the feel of it.
Now I want to go back in the spring when the water's really running. The trail then looped around back through the woods and through the remnants of an old settler homestead.
No animals to be seen, but nice color here and
there like this little gem we stumbled upon...
We felt pretty chipper after the hike, so we decided to go back and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and hike the three mile Black Ridge Trail at Rocky Knob. Everything started out OK...a well marked trail mostly uphill through the woods. Then at about the half way point, it crosses the Parkway and continues. Only problem was, we couldn't find a marker. The trail seemed to lead us right into a closed cattle gate with cattle grazing the field behind it. Well, that didn't seem right to us, so we were left to return to home base by walking along the Parkway.
We had some belly laughs as we walked, but it wasn't what we had planned and it was a lot longer for all the twists and turns.
When we finally did get back, we weren't feeling so chipper any more!
I did go into the Visitor Center to ask about the trail. Sure enough,
we were supposed to go through the gate and through the field. It
would have been nice if he had said something when we picked up the
Monday we took a road trip to Galax...where Leta's brother once played at their Fiddler's Convention. After some time browsing around there, we headed for Grayson Highlands State Park, but we never made it. It just got to be too far and time was running out to do any hiking once we got there. So, we turned for home, but took a turn along the way down an unfamiliar road. It was quite the photographer's find, including a running mountain stream.
Tuesday was a rainy day...I think that was a good thing as it forced us to be still. We sat around and played with our photos and computers. That was fun too...comparing notes, tips, tricks, etc.
Like I said, we had a great time...but now it's time to get back to bills, chores, etc.