Sunday, June 18, 2017

Grayson Highlands, 2017

I'm so thankful we were able to spend last weekend as a family, tucked away in the Virginia mountains, just the four of us. It was a nice break from Daniel's busy work schedule.

We have been wanting to take our kids to this area of the country for awhile since it is one of our favorite places – so much so that Jack's middle name "Grayson" is in honor of the Grayson Highlands.

Our first trip to this area was over twelve years ago. We parked our car at the Grayson Highlands overnight parking lot and made our way to Mt. Rogers (the highest point in Virginia). We joke about that trip often – namely that we were still fairly newly married and I planned the trip and didn't do enough research about the weather.

We ended up cutting that multi-day trip short after one freezing night... We walked out in a cold, dense fog. We were thankful for the experience but a bit wiser about the importance of being prepared.

Another time we returned and had a shuttle drop us off in the middle of the Jefferson Wilderness. We hiked 30 miles back to Damascus, making our way through the Grayson Highlands, and this beautiful section of country, over a three-day period.

A third time, we found ourselves in Damascus, VA to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail. This area has our hearts, and hopefully we will be making many more trips back to hike, bike, and camp with our boys.

Last weekend we were able to spend Saturday biking the Virginia Creeper Trail as a family. We stayed in a cottage at the top of Whitetop Station, right at the trailhead and made our way down the mountain, 21 miles into town. It was perfect way for us to spend the day together.

Then on Sunday we woke up and drove about 20 minutes to Grayson Highlands to take the boys on a short hike.

We were hoping to see the wild ponies that roam this area of the country, but did not make it far enough to see them. We hope to be back in the future to make that happen. We did get to see people riding horses on the trail, and as far as the kids were concerned, that was just as good!

We hiked up the Massie Gap trail, to the top of the ridge. Jack promptly sat down and said he was too tired and that his feet hurt. I guess he was finally tired from biking 21 miles the day. At any rate there was a lot more whining on the hike than there had been on the bike trail.

We were prepared with snacks, but after more complaints Daniel suggested we go climb on some boulders and then head back. I would have liked to press on, but with kids I we have learned to adjust our expectations and be flexible.

On the way down Isaac was fussing a bit, so I sang crazy camp songs to him, we raced Jack down the trail (Isaac loved the bouncing from me running), and we pretended to be airplanes.

We ended up only hiking two miles, and there were no wild ponies to be found. But it was still a fun trip. The weather was perfect. We still saw great views of the mountains up above the treeline. The kids were pumped to find walking sticks and climb around on boulders. It was a good end to a fun family weekend.

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