When I saw on the map how close we were to the Blue Ridge Parkway I had to get us on it. This day was the absolute perfect fall day - sunny, about 70 degrees with a light breeze, and the fall color in full swing.
We had to change campgrounds, so when we arrived at the new one we dropped the trailer as quickly as possible, stopped at a local Food Lion for some lunch supplies, and managed to get to the entrance to the Parkway about 1:30. We drove for a bit, then stopped at what we thought was a nice outlook with picnic tables. Instead it was a small homestead with some buildings we could look through. We tailgated on the truck and then walked through looking at the building interiors.
While walking we noticed—far off and way up the mountain - a large rock outcropping with people (barely visible) standing on it. A ranger told us the parking for that was just across the road, it was also considered part of the Appalachian Trail, and was about a 40 minute hike.
We moved over to that, found parking and set off on the hike.
Now - keep in mind that while MsBoyink and I were regulars at the gym this past winter, all that kind of fell apart this spring. Then, with prepping for this trip, any regular exercise schedule totally fell apart. We’re not in great shape. And this was a bit of a killer hike to set off on - 1 mile uphill in the rocky terrain. I didn’t watch the time but I’m sure we took longer than 40 minutes. We stopped quite a bit to catch our breath and mop our brows. But we had to keep at it because the group behind us had small children and we didn’t want to feel like they could go faster.
We did reach the summit, and the view was breath-taking. I was quite surprised at the lack of a “observation deck”, or trail signage, or any educational displays along the way. I quite appreciated feeling like I was hiking an attraction that presented itself the way it would have 30 years ago when people took more responsibility for their own actions and an experience like this wasn’t ruined by bureaucratic reaction to a senseless lawsuit.
After soaking in the view for a while we made the trip down and the truck seats never felt so comfortable, nor a juice-box so tasty. It was nearing dusk by this point and we were getting hungry again so we drove more on the Parkway, making one more stop at an outlook, then came down off the mountain and (after a quick run scout through a National Forest campground) came home.
Stellar day - and a great afternoon to celebrate the 1-month mark on this adventure. I think we’re even now for all the misery and rain we had the first week of this trip.