Happy Thanksgiving everybody! We hope yours was filled with great food, great family, and great fun. Once again, we made out way to Bristol, Tennessee - only this time, Christina came down, too.
We drove down on Thanksgiving day, and the traffic wasn't bad at all. We arrived in time for a great meal, and proceeded to chat and graze our way through the remainder of the day.
The next day, Christina had to drive back to Memphis so she could work Saturday. Chris and Arlene offered to take us to Bay Mountain Park to walk around outside for a bit. Leah expressed an interest in wolves, and as it turns out, Bays Mountain Park has a wolf enclosure, among other things.
We walked down to the lake to see about hiking around it, but Leah still wasn't quite feeling up to it. Since she had had her tonsils out just two days prior, we cut her some slack.
We hiked just a short distance in either direction along the shore, with the last bit terminating in a dock...
...where I took the opportunity to grab a couple of photos.
From there, we went to see the lions, tigers, and bears wolves, deer, and bobcat.
Leah's favorite animal is a wolf, so she was thrilled to see them, especially since they were a bit active. I had to shoot through a double fence, so you can see the moire pattern - but I didn't think it was too unpleasant.
There were several deer in the deer enclosure, but just the one buck.
Chris said he hadn't seen the bobcat out quite so clearly as when we were there. The weather wasn't warm, but wasn't really all that chilly, either. I think the animals were enjoying it as much as we were.
Ever the budding photographer, Ian borrowed Arlene's camera to snap some photos of the bobcat.
We all had a great time, followed by a very nice lunch on a riverfront (in Kingsport?) and later with desserts from Blackbird bakery. All in all, a great way to spend the day!
Last week I met up with an old friend for a backpacking trip - a bit more than a year from the previous trip, only this one was planned to be a bit longer and harder than the last one. I looked for some places closer to home, but ended up choosing the Escarpment Trail in the Catskills mountains of New York.
I met Jason at lunch near the trailhead, where we had our last hot meal indoors for a couple of days. We drove to the trail's end, loaded up my car with his gear, and then drove to the trail head. It was spitting snow, but nothing that stuck. We hit the trail with a couple of hours of daylight remaining. We both had heavy packs - Jason's was the heavier and he was working on a couple of hours' sleep. We made it a couple of miles in to a shelter, where we had enough time to set up our hammocks and start dinner with some daylight. We had a nice fire to drive off the cold - but just like last year, that didn't last long. It was a cooollldd night.
We woke up the next morning and hit the trail. The trail, while I'm told is popular, was fairly rough for a good majority of the hike. These roots comprised the trail for a little section of the first climb up High Windham mountain.
We made it to the top, along with a bunch of other people, pausing long enough to catch our breaths and snap a couple of photos.
That night we settled down at another shelter, ate a quick meal in the darkness, and then crawled into our hammocks almost immediately. It was a long day of hiking. Next morning, we got up, filled out water bottles and set up for a steep climb right off the bat. We climbed up Blackhead mountain, which was the highest point (almost 4000 feet) of the hike.
From there, we hiked up and down the surrounding mountains. For lunch, we found this nice spot overlooking the valley with a lake, below. While the wind was cold, the sun felt great, and it was nice to get our backpacks off our backs for a bit.
We then hiked a good ways down, where we had to get water for the rest of the hike. Thankfully Jason brought his water filter, since the "spring" water had a bunch of leaf litter in it. You can see the ugly brown water before it was filtered into clear, delicious water.
We didn't get as far as we had hoped, but missed that by maybe a mile or so. We ended up camping on a mountaintop not too far from a plane crash. We woke up extra early, and walked out from there. The final high section of the trail was at these cliffs overlooking a couple of lakes.
We had to hike down these cliffs - probably the gnarliest part of the hike - to get back to Jason's car.
All told, we hiked about 25-26 miles in three days over some decent elevation with poor trail conditions (in places, otherwise just rugged). Once we got to our cars we found a little diner where we had a hot meal, and then we parted ways to head home.
It was a great hike, glad I had someone to share it with. I'm looking for the next hike, I need to do a bit of planning to get it for warmer weather. Have a great day,
Sunday after church and a haircut, I made my way to Shenandoah National Park. I've been wanting to get a photo from Old Rag mountain when the leaves were near peak color, and the weather forecast was predicting quite a light show. Although, there was a chance for rain.
I took my chances and hiked up to the summit, and enjoyed the clear blue skies and warm sun while I waited for sunset. Unfortunately, a storm did move in, but it was mostly to the north of me, but headed my way. The wind picked up, and with about 15 minutes before the sun set, there was some lightning to the north, so I packed up and headed down hill. It got dark fast! And it started to rain about 2/3rds of the way down. Fortunately, I was prepared for both darkness and rain since I knew I was going to hike out after sunset and there was a good chance for rain. About a mile from where I parked, I ran into a family of 4 who had taken a wrong turn. They would have had to climb back over the mountain - without flashlights or rain gear with the temperature falling - to get to their vehicle. Fortunately, I was prepared to do good (and had been to where they had parked their car, otherwise...oy!).
Anyways, the moral of the story is be prepared when you head into the outdoors, and be prepared to offer a helping hand.
The kids had a great time trick or treating this year. Catherine posted a couple of photos to Facebook, so these may not be terribly new.