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  1. #21
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    Day Two: Do horses really enjoy this?

    When we got up the next morning, it was windy and foggy. We broke camp and hit the trail around 9. About 20 minutes later we hit the junction of Mount Rogers trail and the Lewis Fork Spur trail. At that time my wife learned one of the maxims of the trail. When you stop for the night towards the end of a long day, you will always find a perfect campsite just a few minutes down the trail the next morning! Sure enough, that happened to us! There is a fantastic little campsite at the junction of these two trails. We took the spur trail to the Lewis Fork Trail and followed it back to the AT. Trail is a horse trail every stinking inch of the way, tons of rocks and miry mud. Very level but slow going, not much fun at all. About 2/3's the way down this section, my wife commented that she was ready to get back to the AT!

    We got to the AT and within a few 100 yards came to the Old Orchard Shelter where we stopped for lunch. Met a pair of brothers doing a section hike. I also discovered one of the joys of hiking with kids, let them go get the water!


    Now I know this shelter and spring so I felt like the girls were up to it, they really seemed to enjoy the responsibility. As we were finishing lunch it started to rain. I stopped just as we were ready to hit the trail:


    Heading south on the AT out of Old Orchard shelter is a very steep two mile climb, this was the hardest climb of the trip but we did okay with it, only stopped a few times on the way up. At times the wife and kids left me in the dust! During this climb, we decided to give mom the trail name of Mommy Long Legs because she always seemed to have a daddy long legs near her when she stopped, plus she has long legs which made her a great climber!

    We get to the top for a long, pack off break. During the break we met a couple from Asheville who were doing a thru hike! The kids had lots of questions about that. Then it was a short 1.5 mile jaunt to the Scales area, a big horse staging area in a big field. The climb out the other side was fairly easy and open. My wife said it reminded her of the opening scene from Sound of Music! From there it was a two mile, mostly downhill walk to Little Wilson Creek, our intended stopping point for the day.

  2. #22
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    Wrapping up Day Two and Coming Home on Day Three

    We got to our stopping point mid afternoon. I honestly don't know what time as my cell phone couldn't get a signal. There is an idyllic campsite just before the creek, we set our packs down and went back to the creek to refresh ourselves. Here is mom soaking some sore footsies:


    The girls take a foot dip too:


    Then we decide to really enjoy the water, shrinkage time!


    Feels SOOOO cold but sooooo GOOOOOOD!


    After we soaked for a while, I decided to go back and set up hammocks and camp. As I get the second hammock strung up a group of about 8 or 10 kids come stumbling into the site. They are clearly bummed that we have gotten there before them. The site isn't large enough to accommodate them and us and they start trying to figure out what to do next. One kid asked me if we were staying there. I told him yes, he sulked off. I wasn't trying to be rude to them but I wasn't giving the site up especially as I get the third hammock up I hear thunder and see real black skies rolling in.

    You can't play around with the weather around Grayson Highlands, it can turn on you in a second. We get camp set and tarps in place just as it really starts to hit. I pitched the MacCat tarp to give us a porch to eat under. Dinner is cranberry/mango chicken cous cous. The rain really starts coming down and the kids go off to bed. This night they decided to sleep together. I get their tarp readjusted and the bear bag hung. Wife and I have a nice quiet moment. The weather breaks and she takes a shot of our site while I am writing in my journal:


    As we head to bed it is still pretty light out, I'm guessing 8ish. The girls are out in no time flat. I spend a while reading my journal enjoying the sounds of crickets and a rushing stream. The night is rainier than the one before and a tad windier but our site is better, and we sleep better, not doubt because of the full day of hiking we did.

    The next morning feels like a real lazy slow morning. We take our time getting up and getting ready. We have only two miles today and not a whole lot of climbing. By my guess it is 9:30 or 10 when we leave. The hike out is great. The girls have renewed enthusiasm and excitement that comes with fresh legs and a good nights sleep. While you can't do the distance and the time with kids as you can with most adults, there is a great joy seeing things how they see them. A real happiness as your kid whips out binoculars to look at something or points out a rock shaped like a heart that you would have walked over and not noticed. We get back to the car and are surprised to find out it is only 10:30! We must have had a much earlier start. We had down the mountain for our celebratory meal at the Log House (GREAT PLACE) when River Otter sums it up, "I'm glad for a break because my feet are a little sore but I am sad because the trip is over and I had a really good time." Mountain Goat adds, "I really want to hike the whole thing dad, do you think I will?" My response, "Keep that dream alive and look to it and you will find a way to make it happen."

    As a dad, I couldn't have asked for a better end or for a better trip.

    Thanks for coming a long with me as I relive these great moments. I hope I answered questions folks may have had, if not please ask. I will go back over my map and try to give more info on distances and elevations. We used the National Geographic map for the Mount Rogers areas.

  3. #23
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing your family adventure. One of the more enjoyable trip reports I've read. Really got a feel for the whole trip!

    WARNING: Will discuss Rhurbarb Strawberry Pie and Livermush at random.


    "A democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
    Freedom under a constitutional republic is a well armed lamb contesting the vote." ... B.Franklin


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  4. #24
    Senior Member Bug-Bait's Avatar
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    What a wonderful trip report. Love the pics. You and your wife are great parents and I'm sure your daughters will remember this adventure for the rest of their lives!!!

  5. #25
    Senior Member Hangin' Burrito's Avatar
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    You are truly a blessed man! What a wonderful trip report and pics, lots of smiling faces!

    Thanks for sharing with all of us.
    "Is this the best you've got?!!" (Shortoff Mtn., Linville Gorge 2010)

    "Life is tough.....it's even tougher if you're stupid!".....(John Wayne)

  6. #26
    Senior Member SmokeHouse's Avatar
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    I enjoyed your pic's,,, looks like a very nice time. thanks for sharing.

  7. #27
    Senior Member Muskrat's Avatar
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    What a great report with awesome pics. I also have 2 daughters (10 & 7) and plan to take my 10 year old on her first backpacking/hanging trip on July 23. Everyone in the family now has their own HH Exped with exception to me (WBBB Dbl 1.7 . . . what can I say ?). Momma has seen the pics of GHSP before and she is really excited to see the ponies. I'm more excited to share your trip report with her. This will be just what I need to jumpstart the "family backcountry adventures". Just curious though, how did Mommy Long Legs like the trip? Obviously from the pics she had a great time too.

    If you don't mind, please PM me with your details . . . mileage, campsites, distances. That would be a great help.
    “He doesn't know the meaning of the word fear, but then again he doesn't know the meaning of most words”
    - Bobby Bowden

  8. #28
    Senior Member GvilleDave's Avatar
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    Wow what a great trip! Excellent report and fantastic pictures. I am thinking hard about this same trip at the end of July. Nothing beats the joy of seeing children having fun packing and camping in the woods.

  9. #29
    Senior Member XexorZ's Avatar
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    Big "Thanks!" for sharing!!

    Looks like all had a great time - planning the next trip yet??

    I'm sure you've inspired more than a few and put smiles on the faces of many more.

    Be well,

    George
    Buy Tea at Jennifer's Tea Garden ( My Wife's Place )

  10. #30
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    I'm doing the 40 mile section of the AT in Maryland in a about a week. I don't know if the family will squeeze another one in this summer, we will see.

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