Monday, July 06, 2009

Virginia Highlands Camping Trip

On June 25-28 I traveled to southwestern Virginia for the annual Virginia Highlands camping trip with Daryl, his wife Sheila, their friend Tyrone, and their dogs Lexie, TT, and Bubba.

En route I stopped and visited Linville Caverns; you may recall from my previous posts that I'd planned twice before to visit there but both times foul weather foiled my plans, but this time I finally made it. It wasn't quite as spectacular as other caves I've visited, but it was still pretty cool and definitely worth the visit. It was discovered in the early 1800's when fishermen noticed fish swimming in and out of what appeared to be solid rock; they discovered the opening that led to the underground stream, and further exploration led to the discovery of a magnificent cave system.

From there I headed on to our camping spot in the Jefferson National Forest, riding along the Blue Ridge Parkway for a while.


Ninja out of its usual habitat:

This year was similar to years past; we cooked breakfast and dinner each day over a camp fire and just enjoyed the natural beauty and solitude and the cool temperatures (daytime highs were around 80.) We were fortunate this year to have no rain at all; we usually have a few showers, and one year we had a massive storm.

Daryl cooking:

Breakfast is served!

On Friday Daryl and I headed into Wytheville to buy groceries, and we stopped to visit Skeeter's World Famous Hot Dogs, where we had a really good slaw dog and Coke in the bottle. It was a very neat little restaurant with lots of character, great food, and very friendly staff. Woodrow Wilson's wife was born in the building in 1872.

On Saturday Daryl and I headed over to Grayson Highlands State Park to hike up to Wilbur Ridge; we attempted this 2 years ago but had to cancel due to a nasty storm. This time we made it. It was a pretty strenuous hike of about 7 miles round-trip over rocky terrain. About 2 miles of the hike each way was on the Appalachian Trail. At the top of the ridge we took a much-deserved break and enjoyed the lunch we'd packed.

Our destination:

Heading up the trail

Closeups of our destination

We made it!

On the way back, we encountered several wild ponies that live in the area.

As always, a great camping trip, and the side visits to Linville Caverns and Wilbur Ridge made it all the better. Here are all the photos that I took.


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