Hike: September 6: At Carvins Cove, Horse Pen and Lakeside Trails and back. About 7 miles.
The ongoing, constant and wonderful progress of new trails and greenways in and around our town of Roanoke, Virginia continues unabated. At the end of the mile-or-so Horse Pen from the Timberview Road lot, the Lakeside picks up the walk in the same direction, paralleling the shoreline for a stretch but then pulling up away from water views. The Day Hiker was not particularly enamored of that fact as the trail meandered through the woods until we got to its intersection with the Araminta Trail where the day’s threatening look gave way to a pretty good shower as we ate lunch. As happens too often on the rare occasions we are under a shower, we talked ourselves out of putting up our little tarp, and ended up eating under umbrellas like idiots. And of course not too far into the return walk, the shower cleared away.
Hike: September 14: Appalachian Trail from Va. 311 south to near Beckner Gap and back. About 6 miles.
This must be lab-dog Cookie’s favorite hike, since the only reason we do it is for her. With the reason being that if we walk the traditional direction from 311—up to McAfee Knob—the dog likely will have encounters of the sniff/bark/chase nature with other dogs or other hikers. “She’s friendly,” is The Day Hiker’s reassurance to any crossed hiker, even as Cookie pulls/pants/struggles toward the ostensibly comforted person in her sights. The whole thing, according to her mistress, is just best avoided, even if your lunch spot is a log in the woods instead of one of the AT’s premier viewpoints.
Hike: September 20, 2014: Chestnut Ridge Trail near the Roanoke Star. 5.4 miles.
A last-sec choice (as are most of our hikes these days) occasioned by the request from the family of Ben, Sarah, Tyler and Reese, along with Tyler’s friend Carly, to come along. This easy, nearby loop is also customizable to shorten the distance should smaller persons of ages say, 3 (Reese) or 7 (Tyler and Carly) become tired, say, after lunch. Even before lunch, and even with the incentive to keep their eyes out for a picnic table just up the hill from the trail in the closed Roanoke Mountain Campground, the smaller hikers were losing steam, and after a fine lunch of all kinds of cheeses, olives, crackers and a premier selection of candies, they were ready for the shortcut. As was, as is her wont these days, The Day Hiker, who grumbled through the rest of the “extra" mile-plus we undertook to complete the loop.
Hike: September 28, 2014: Flat Top Trail and back. 5.6 miles.
This nice walk from Milepost 83.1 of the Blue Ridge Parkway is familiar enough, short enough and rewarding enough to The Day Hiker that she will, on occasion, attack it with the strength that rendered her, over all those years until she sort of got over it, The Greatest Day Hiker Of Them All. I quickly found myself an eighth of a mile behind, upon which she paused to wait to see if I wanted water, and then stretched it on out again very quickly. She did slow a little toward the steep parts, at least to the point that I could keep her in sight. At the peak, with its twin viewpoints at 4,000 feet, there was serous disappointment: On the eastern-view rocks, which we had to ourselves, we were immediately descended upon by a mass of swarmy insects that looked to us, in our ignorance of such, like termites maybe. We tried the other side of the rocks and, surprise! they found us again. We wandered over to the western viewpoint and asked the couple up there about the insects and they reported being under siege as well. So we had lunch a little way back down the mountain, where we were visited only mildly by the same flyers, who had a fine knack for massing and landing all of a sudden and all over you. Not something we’ve ever encountered before in the fall.