100+ miles of the Appalachian and Virginia Creeper Trails


So I started my Hiking season this year with plan to do a section of the Appalachian Trail and nearby connecting trails starting in Tennessee and heading up thru Virginia. Its been a wonderful experience so far I have enjoyed the beauty of the trail, hearing coyotes and screech owls, and seeing deer, and the wild ponies in Grayson Highlands State Park. I have enjoyed overcoming the physical and mental challenges of the trail and finding that I could accomplish and push myself far more than I ever thought. I have really been thrilled by how close knit the hiking community is and how we all look after and encourage each other and meeting people from all over the USA as well as Germany, France, England, Scotland, and Canada. Below are some photos from the first hundred miles. First is overlooking Watagua lake from the AT one of the prettiest views I had on the trail was sunrise from high above the lake. Fog completely covered the lake below but along the shore you could see the lights from the marinas along the shore it was a magical moment.

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Watagua lake seen from the AT

Next is Damascus Virginia and shots from along the Virginia Creeper Rails to Trails Hiking Path (the virginia creeper is a flowering vine but the trail takes its name from the railroad because it took so long for the train to creep over the mountains from North Carolina it was named the virginia creeper) The trail runs 34 miles from Abingdon to Mt Rogers Station in Virginia. I hiked mostly between Damascus and Mt Rogers Station. The trail is amazingly beautiful running alongside Laurel Creek and crossing it numerous times on the old railroad trestles. It is wooded at first then gives way to more open farmland and has some historic stations one is converted to a great cafe and the other at Green Cove Station is a museum.

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The next few scenes are from the hike up and over White Top Mountain which I did on a windy cold and foggy day it was surreal and an amazing experience camping at the top at over 5000 feet and waking to a clear sunrise after hearing the coyotes howling in the night:

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Greeting the sun outside my wenzel tent

The next section covers from Grayson Highlands State Park to Atkins Virginia

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started out cold at Grayson Highlands State Park

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view makes you feel as if you are hiking on the roof of the world or at least virginia

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thank you fellow hiker “sunrise” for taking this photo

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wild ponies in the park

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highest mt in the background is whitetop where i camped days before

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comers creek falls virginia

had to get off trail for a few days to nurse an injured ankle following are pics from Laurel Run Park in Churchhill tennessee where i did a test hike to make sure am ready to get back on trail beautiful park with views waterfalls

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Waterfall & Walking Trails


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Above is the Watauga River behind Wilson Dam. It was a perfect spot and scene that just says peaceful. It was taken in May near Elizabethton TN in the Wilson and Watauga Dam Recreation Areas. Nice picnic and fishing areas where the Appalachian Trail crosses Wilbur Dam Road. There is a unique little waterfall as Little Laurel Creek (not to be confused with Laurel Run Falls that I wrote about last week) pours into the lake.

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The scenery is beautiful and makes for a great day to take a short drive through the area on a pretty road that follows the river

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If your in the mood for a longer hike you can hop on the AT and walk as long as you want just keep an eye out for bears in the area (the sign was put up after a bear went into a occupied tent the occupant was fine the bear was removed it had some sort of illness injury)

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Laurel Run Falls Hike


This is a fun trail and a good training one you can connect into the Bays Mt trail and hike 15 miles on it but I didn’t do that today. I am proud because it is steep 1200′ elev gain in 1 mile, rocky, roots, and stream crossings so its good for people who want to gain more experience hiking and you get to see a couple of little waterfalls along the way. Laurel Run Park is very nice the staff are friendly and put a huge amount of effort into trail maintenance the past year and drainage, trail width and surface, and blaze and trail signage are awesome. It is like hiking a trail now in previous years it was wet enough to be like hiking up a creek lol.

Here is the little falls water levels were very low.

And my meditation spot at the end and the Holston R. where Lauren Run flows into. The park has picnic areas ballfields disc golf and fishing along the Holston.

 

Spokane Visit


I got to go to Spokane in March to speak at a conference and in my free time was able to walk around the river walk park along the Spokane River which had an amazing amount of water going over the falls from the spring snow melt.

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I also got to walk upriver from the falls next to Gonzaga University which is a beautiful campus and it was sunset which turned everything golden as the sun came out after a rain storm.

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Glacier National Park Two Medicine and Many Glacier


Part II of my Glacier Park adventure featuring scenes from the Two Medicine and Many Glacier entrances to the park. To get to the Two Medicine entrance the prettiest way is by taking Montana Hwy 49 north from the town of East Glacier. You will have an amazing drive through beautiful forests on a winding mountain road with plenty of views of the larger Lower Two Medicine Lake. After visiting the park continue north on Hwy 49 it will rejoin Montana Hwy 89 that takes you to the main entrance at St. Mary’s or north a few more miles to the Many Glaciers entrance at Babb Montana. Be prepared for some white knuckled fun on the second portion of the road as it climbs over two medicine ridge at 6000 feet with sheer rock walls on one side and a drop of 2000 feet to the valley floor on the other with no guard rails but spectacular views.

The first series of shots is of Running Eagle Falls. This is a unique twin fall, the smaller upper fall combines with the lower main falls that pours out from a cave in the cliff wall really amazing affect.

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After a short drive from these falls you come to Two Medicine Lake and some of the most beautiful scenery you will see anywhere.

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You can take a boat ride on the lake or hike some of the nearby trails.

Next are some scenes from the Many Glaciers part of the park watch for Grizzlies!!

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Glacier National Park St Mary’s Entrance.


Spent the weekend in Glacier National Park which earns its title Crown of the Continent. It is one of the most beautifully scenic places I have been too. I took a lot of photos I will have to do this in a couple of posts. Today’s post will focus on the main entrance at St. Mary’s which includes the Going to The Sun Road which runs over Logan’s Pass at 6600 feet and then descends at a 6% grade 14 miles down into the avalanche creek valley, Lake MacDonald, and the West Glacier entrance.

This shot is the early morning fog over Divide Mountain which is 8600 feet along Montana Hwy 89 that runs the Blackfeet Indian Nation.

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The next few shots were taken at the visitor center at the St Mary’s Entrance to the Park:

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Early morning is the best time to get to the park the early morning sun makes for dramatic scenery and you don’t have nearly the people and traffic that arrives by noon.

The next shot is of the mountains over St Mary’s Lake. It was near hear that I saw the grizzly bear. Sorry no pics of it he was in the road when I came around the corner and he ran off into the woods before I could the car stopped still it was exciting to see one!!016

The next series is from a short hike in Sun Rift Gorge one of the prettiest places I have walked in a long time. A narrow little gorge with a stream going over one series of small falls one after another with spruce trees growing high all around you. Don’t rush your drive through the park pull over at as many of these scenic overlooks and walks as you can there is so much you can’t see from the road.

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091this is Lynch Creek another pull off on the way up to Logan Pass

The road up to Logan pass and down to West Glacier is an engineering marvel a narrow road carved right into the side of the cliff.

It also has some of the most stunning scenery of mountains, valleys, numerous waterfalls and of course the glaciers. Get out of the car and breath the clean air cool air coming off the glaciers and take lots of photos. These next ones are ones I took of a stream that runs down from the glacier and goes over a high waterfall way down in the valley below it is hard to appreciate the size of the water fall as it is 1500-2000 feet below where I am shooting from!

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The next are some scenes from Logan Pass which has some great hiking trails the black and white shot is a shot I took hiking across a snow field on the Hidden Lake overlook trail. The second half of the trail was closed due to grizzly bear activity lol.

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The rest of the shots are from the end of the Going To The Sun Road as you descend into West Glacier along Avalanche Creek and Lake MacDonald. There are literally dozens of waterfalls along the road and the forests of West Glacier are just beautiful dense spruce forests where the trees and rocks are all moss covered. There is also a shot of a mountain goat that I took at Goat Lick overlook on US Hwy 2 between East and West Glacier I included it with this section because mountain goats and big horn sheep are often seen on the road to Logan Pass. I think the turquoise color of the glacial water is amazing.

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