Friday, October 16, 2015

Climbing High

Because of my wonderful new bed, my life has turned around and my arthritic back is no longer hampering so many of my activities. I've been anxious to return to my fit and active lifestyle,starting this week with 3 hikes up and down my local mountain. Half a mile climbing a 1000ft and then back down again. Today I was joining a group at Sky Meadows Park for a 6.5mile hiking up to 1200ft.
I passed this abandoned house on the way with its Halloween display. Any notions of exploring were put to rest when I spotted a new video camera and spotlights by the fence. Oh well, didn't have time anyway.
The park was busy when I arrived and the parking lot carpeted by thousands of acorns, which I started picking up for the local wildlife center, and for my squirrel at home.
It was a great day for hiking, starting off a little chilly but the sun was shining and we'd soon get warm. We set off at a brisk pace.
For me it was a long haul to the top but I huffed and puffed to the peak and looked out at the spectacular views of the valley below us, grey and white fluffy clouds above us, protecting us from high temperatures and humidity.
One of the original signs of the Appalachian Trail which we walked along for a while.
The views and countryside were gorgeous. The colors seemed so vibrant and the air so crisp and fresh that it was easy to push the complaining aches coming from my poor legs to the back of my mind and enjoy the hike.We did stop for occasional water breaks and on a ridge I had to snap this shot of these girls, who had no idea that we were making fun of them, they were so self absorbed.
And then it was back down to the parking lot where I collapsed gratefully behind Stuart's wheel, and was glad to notice that I wasn't the only one feeling sore as I looked about the other vehicles, spotting folks arching their backs or pulling off boots to rub feet. We drove on to Naked Mountain Winery where we shared food and purchased wine. The local horseradish cheese I brought was particularly popular, and so it seemed was my limited bottle of Raptor Red wine, so I had to put that under the table to ensure I still had a glass full to take home. At $30 a bottle, I wanted some to savor later!
On Sunday I woke up stiff but determined to go on another hike with a new group I'd joined. My philosophy was that if I got too tired I could always turn around and wait for them to finish. It was going to be another high elevation gain hike, and again about the 6 mile mark.
The women were awesome, very friendly, and I knew this would be a crowd I'd want to stay in touch with. We had our guide, Gibby, a local man, with us, and off we set.
We passed a small family cemetery with a metal plate set on a stone which had a poem engraved on it. I was asked to read it out and I did, it made us stop for a moment and appreciate the park we were enjoying.
The leaves were beautiful, rich reds, oranges and golds, shining in the sunlight. Again it wasn't hot and there were few bugs to harass us.
I took this shot of the girls before we started our downhill walk.
We made it to the bottom but a few of us were hurting. Gibby dropped his bottle of water and had problems bending down to pick it up, but grinned when  he saw me laughing. And then Elizabeth and I got out of opposite sides of the car, meeting round the back, giggling as we saw we were both hobbling. Once again, it was red wine that eased our muscles and we all sat in the new Tula's in Washington, VA, where we were introduced to the new owner. I didn't stay for dinner, but left after a glass of wine, dropping off Sandra at her car on the way home
I drove back to Meadow House with a huge grin on my face despite all my muscles screaming. And when I got home I cracked open a long saved bottle of my favorite wine to celebrate having made it through 5 hikes in 6 days. The first hurdle of my race to fitness had been cleared!
I took Monday off as a vacation day and was glad of it when I awoke the next morning. I wasn't too sore but sitting at a desk all day would not have been good so I was pleased to be able to move around. I decided to visit the local wildlife center and drop off the nuts I'd promised them, a big bagful of acorns and hickory nuts.
I stopped at an old store in Millwood. A rocking chair had been placed on the porch, giving the place a homey feel, so I stopped the car on the side of the road to adjust my camera. The owner came out and we started chatting. He lives behind the building and has been concerned about break ins, so now keeps a vigilant eye on the old dwelling.
Built in 1875, this was a general store, run by a Mr Brown. The photo below shows him standing outside of his shop in the 1920's.
David has this photo in his house and was gracious enough to let me photograph it.
The old store as it looks today. David's grandmother purchased the building from Mr Brown's grandson and turned it into a home. The old meat cooler is inside as are the old seed trays, set into the wall. Huge metal meat hooks still hang from the ceiling but the counters are gone, removed to make space for a living area. David keeps an eye on the old property, empty since 2003, and has no immediate plans for it. He placed the old rocker on the porch.
We exchanged information as he's considering letting me and a couple of friends photograph inside at a later date. It was so dark in the house that I couldn't take any photos without a tripod, and I certainly didn't want to impose after only just meeting him. It had been wonderful listening to his stories and seeing the old dwelling in a personal light, and I hope we'll meet up in the near future. We both blinked as we stepped out into the glaring sunlight and laughed at the sudden increase of temperature. It had been cold in there.
I waved farewell and went on to the animal center to deliver their nuts, happy knowing that the residents would be getting some tasty treats that day. I drove around a few country lanes enjoying the fall colors but then headed home, wanting to relax for the last few hours of freedom before my work week started.
I picked up more nuts for my squirrel, coming across acorns, hickory nuts, black walnuts and even some huge Osage Oranges, or hedge apples, as they're more commonly called. A shame that these striking fruits have literally no value. Wildlife find them unpalatable and they emit a sap that can irritate the skin so they aren't used for decoration in the home. I did like the fragrant citrus smell that comes from them, but not wanting a sticky residue deposited wherever I placed them indoors, I left them as a feature on the patio. Maybe I'll haul them into the house once they've dried out a little.

No comments: