Friday, December 29, 2006

Mt. Rogers, VA

Highpoint #7
5,729 feet ASL

It was time to knock off the highpoint for what I consider to be my home state. My wife and I were in Roanoke visiting her family. Mt. Rogers was only three hours away, so I found a day to go and left at 6:30am. Unfortunately, I used Google directions to get there. (While I usually am aptly pleased with Google products, their map directions still could use some work.) Their directions took me past the main entrance of Grayson State Park and up a gravel road that eventually led to a four wheel drive road with no trespassing signs. I decided to turn around and go back to the entrance of Grayson State Park, which I knew would lead me to the trailhead.

I was pretty upset with myself that I didn't originally pull into the State Park, thereby losing the extra time, but I regress. Once inside the State Park, I paid the $2 parking fee and pushed on to the parking lot. I had one last hill to climb before the parking lot when I discovered that the road, which had turned from black to white, was more slippery than I had first thought. As I neared the top, my momentum seized coming to rest on a slick icy incline. Thankfully, a ranger came up behind me and guided me back down safely. But this set back would mean an even longer hike, about an extra 1/2 mile each way. I thought I would really be pushing the time I needed to get back now. Nevertheless, I decided to try and set off at a pretty good clip.

I started up the 1/2 mile of road and into the hike. Almost immediately after leaving the road, I came across some wild ponies that roam the Grayson meadows. They were not shy at all, allowing me to come up and touch them. My time bonding with the horses was short-lived, however, as time was of the essence. I pushed on and was truly blessed by the scenery of the hike. The open meadows and bald rock tops were very picturesque.

The elevation gain of the hike was moderate. The biggest challenge I faced was wet trail conditions. Melting snow had made trail soggy in many places. By the end of the hike, my feet and pants were wet and muddy. It was, however, an absolutely gorgeous day. The air was crisp, the temperature was perfect.

I laughed at this toilet I came across near the top. This toilet was closed, another one could be found a little ways a way. I just didn't realize the Forest Service could be so blunt. After my little chuckle, I pushed to cover the last little bit of hike. The final push brought me into the land of Narnia. I entered a spruce forest, which was blanketed with 2 inches of snow. I passed rocks laden with icicles and ice steps. It was a perfect prelude to the summit. The actual summit is nothing special, it is covered with trees and there is no vista. But besides this one minor detail, the hike as a whole is one of the best I have been on. I would highly recommend my state's highpoint and consider one of the prettiest I've seen yet.

I took a slightly different way on the way back. Unfortunately, I missed my turn. By the time I realized it, the most direct route back to my trail was through a densely packed azalea grove. There were some horse/deer tracks, so I decided to take the direct route. Thankfully, after 30 minutes of ducking and moving through the grove, I emerged onto the main train and was back on track.

Near the end of my hike, I thought about mounting one of the wild ponies. I was definitely weary from the quick pace I was keeping. But wisdom got the best of me and I finished on my own two legs. I jumped in the car and was back on my way home, another grand adventure completed.

GPS Data
  • You can download a set of waypoints of a Mt. Rogers hike here. (Note: This route is different that the one I took.)
  • You can download the Google Earth Track file (.kmz) of my Mt. Rogers hike here.
  • You can download the GPS Trackpoint file (.gpx) of the hike here.
(Note: To download the file, left click on the link and follow the instructions. Right clicking and pressing save as didn't work for me.)

Video of Summit

My Route

Mt. Rogers Hike at EveryTrail

Elevation Profile

Topo Maps

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Spruce Knob, WV

Highpoint #6
4,863 ASL

With my second year of seminary completed, my wife and I made plans to visit home, sweet, home in Good Ole Virginia for the holiday season. Being up there, I thought I would make the most of the trip and visit some highpoints.

Zoe and I got to Virginia first. We drove up with a family from our church bible study. They both had room in their van and were going to the exact place (Harrisonburg) I was going. It was honestly a great blessing from the Lord. So, we arrived in Harrisonburg and I had a few days to visit friends I hadn't seen in a long while. This was great, but Zoe and I had a taste for going high. The highpoint of West Virginia was only an 1 hour and 45 minutes away and we had a car that some other wonderful friends had let us borrow. So, we were off. The drive was very smooth and energy efficient as we traveled in a new Honda hybrid.

The road to the top of the mountain was very good. Most of it was newly paved. The very top of the drive was packed/groomed dirt. There is a very short hike, once you reach the parking lot at the top of the mountain. It was cold and windy, the car's thermometer reading in the low-30s. But for December at 4,000 feet plus, this was not bad at all. Zoe and I went down the short path to a stone summit tower. We climbed the stairs and beheld the view. It was very clear and there is a great 360 degree view.

There were also two cavers that were behind us. We made some small talk. They indicated that the caves were warmer than up here. After a few pictures, Zoe and I found one of the NGS markers. We then followed the 1/2 mile circuit trail around the summit back to the parking lot and headed home.

GPS Data
  • You can download the Google Earth Track file (.kmz) of my drive from Harrisonburg to Spruce Knob here.
  • You can download the GPS Trackpoint file (.gpx) of the drive here.
  • You can download a waypoint file (.gpx) of the Mt. Rogers Route here.
(Note: To download the file, left click on the link and follow the instructions. Right clicking and pressing save as didn't work for me.)

My Route

Spruce Mountain, West Virginia at EveryTrail

Elevation Profile

Topo Maps