You Call These Hikes, Kurt? Happy 12th Hiking Anniversary Anyway, Gail
February 7: Read Mountain Loop. 5 miles
In what turned out to be the longest hike of the 12th anniversary month of the hikes oddity, we took on the pretty easy Read Mountain trails just east of Roanoke. Yes, it was a cold day and a cold month overall, but this was a bad start—distance-wise—for a month that would end up with, uh, less than 20 miles total, clearly our lowest ever, and a geezerly way to celebrate 12 years. Though this hike, with lunch at the eastern overlook at Boulder Point, was fun.
February 14: THE ANNIVERSARY HIKE, returning, if in weenie form, to the site of the original Valentine’s Day hike in 2004. Up to Apple Orchard Falls via the AO Trail and back down. 3.6 miles.
Yes, it was a very cold day. Yes, the wind was blowing. But yes, we have accumulated over these many years the gear needed for any temperature Virginia can offer, with said gear including The Day Hiker’s electric gloves. One highlight of the trek was watching two guys take turns climbing on the frozen side falls (to the right of the main one as you face the falls), as we ate lunch. Another compliment to the gear and layers was that lunch was comfortable under the cold-air sun, until we agreed we'd overstayed our sitting-down time by maybe eight minutes, and hustled on out to get warmed back up.
February 20: From South Roanoke’s Fork in the Alley Restaurant past Roanoke Memorial and up to the Monument Trail to the Star Trail and back down the Mill Mountain Greenway/loop road. About 4 miles.
Another concession to the cold: Eat lunch before the hike and thus skip the stop in the cold. Our original plan was to run that play at Peaks of Otter lodge and go up Sharp Top, but the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed because of snow between Roanoke and the Peaks, so we settled for the hometown version.
February 28: Tinker Creek Greenway from Plantation Road to Carvins Cove and back. 5 miles.
On a distinctly not cold day, we set out with son Carl and grandkids Lily, Tyler, Grayson and Reese toward Carvins Cove. Even the kindergarten types held up well, as Papa and Gigi had taken all to Fresh Market pre-hike, and so everyone had a little bag of post-lunch candy stashed away in Papa’s pack. That incentive served well, and there was enough of it left to carry for fuel on the return trip. Carvins Cove was at full pond, so the chance to get down along the shore and throw a few rocks was not available on this warm sunny day.