What’s better than hiking on a Thursday in perfect 75 degree weather? When that hike technically counts toward your work week! (Benefit #2028 of working in youth ministry :-D). All the youth I work with are currently on summer break, so yesterday a group of us went hiking in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.
Back in May, when Andrew and I hiked Dobie Mountain, I made a mental note that it would be a great hike for a group of youth–nice views, not too long, and not too many steep uphills. Overall, it was a big hit with the group yesterday, though I did forget just how steep one of the uphills was…
We started on the Albright Loop, which is made up of a lot of woods, rocky trails, and switchbacks. At one point, as we walked single-file over a small stream, I heard the boy behind me say, “Ouch!”, then the girls behind him, “Ouch!” “Ahh! Ouch!” and so on down the line. I turned around to see what was happening, and everyone behind me was swatting some insect away from their legs and arms. I told them to keep walking past the water in case whatever it was had a nest there. Once we were out of the ouch zone, I inspected the bites/stings. They looked–and apparently felt–like bee stings, but the victims said the bugs looked like giant mosquitoes. Anyone know what that is?? One girl’s bite was particularly red and puffy, and when I asked if she was allergic to bees she said, “I don’t know. I’ve never been stung!” Oh God, please do not let her have an allergic reaction… We kept an eye on the wounds, and thankfully no one had any serious reaction!
After about two miles, we reached the intersection of the Appalachian Trail. When Andrew and I hiked this, we continued south on the AT; yesterday we decided to hike north for about half a mile to reach an additional overlook.
After resting for a few minutes and enjoying the view, we began hiking south–all uphill at this point–to reach the bigger Glass Hollow Overlook and our lunch destination. I love the sense of awe that everyone inevitably feels when stepping out onto an overlook like this:
But seriously–could this be any more beautiful?
We ate lunch and hung out around this area for over an hour. (Silly me–I thought I would have to convince them to simply be and enjoy the views, but as it turns out, the mountains are hypnotizing to more people than just me. 😉 I kept hearing, “I could stay here all day!”)
We still had a few hours before we needed to drive back to Richmond, and the remainder of the hike would only take us about 30 minutes, so we decided to hike a little further on the AT. We continued for a mile or so, during which I uttered the understatement of the day: That particular stretch of trail was relatively flat, with soft dirt and lush greenery all around us. I said, “This is nice little path we’re on!”, and quickly realizing the humor added, “And by ‘nice little path,’ I mean, ‘the Appalachian Trail.'” Hah! You know… that nice little path that runs from Maine to Georgia. 😉
Our fierce, young hikers
My new friend Juliet who came with us to help and was such a trooper!
We returned to the overlook for one final glimpse, then began the trek back to the parking lot. This is the part of the hike for which I apparently had slope amnesia. When we met back up with the Albright Loop, we only had one mile to go, but the first half of that mile was a serious uphill. How did I not remember that? After already hiking about six miles at that point, we were hurting! Eventually we made it and began the trip back to Richmond.
The original plan was to hike 4 miles–the Albright Loop, plus the short trek on the AT to reach the Glass Hollow Overlook. However, we added a mile to see the first overlook, then about two miles on the AT at the end, bringing our total to roughly seven miles. Not bad! When I started hiking yesterday, my legs and glutes were still sore from the cardio class I took Tuesday night. After all those hills, I am hobbling. 🙂
As always, the hike provided an awesome workout with beautiful scenery to ease the pain. Plus, I had great company yesterday. 😀
Have you hiked anywhere particularly cool lately?