The weather report called for temperatures in the low 30's and light rain. I awoke in the trail shelter Sunday morning to several inches of snow! The weekend of December 3 - 4, 2016, I went backpacking in Grayson Highland State Park, VA. The Park is part of the Virginia Highlands Recreation Area, and contains the highest mountain in VA. The trail started at the backpacker's parking lot on the driveway to the main front country camp ground, called the Appalachia Spur Trail, It went up hill to the east of the main trail in Massie Gap and joined the Appalachian Trail on Wilburn Ridge just northeast of Massie Gap.
On New Year's weekend between 2016 and 2017 I went winter backpacking in Doughton Park. Terri and I did not miss any big parties because of our habit of going to bed about 8 p.m. most evenings. I had been backpacking a month earlier in Grayson Highland State Park, VA, and was a little unprepared when I was surprised by several inches of snow. I planned this trip to practice my winter camping techniques, and to use some cold weather gear that rarely sees any action.
The Saturday of April 15, 2017, I took a hike on Grandfather Mountain. The goal was to enjoy the warm spring weather, see all the beautiful dogwoods and other flowering trees along the road and mingle with lots of other people on the trails. Today I saw an abnormally large number of really small children. Most were hiking bravely. A few were pouting and needing some parental encouragement. As usually happens, I got to play Ranger Bob by answering questions and giving trail directions to a couple from Ohio who were somewhat turned around and mostly lost.05/27/2017
The Saturday of May 27, 2017, some lawyer buddies and I took a paddling trip on the New River in Ashe County. My partner Mike Cooper, Drew Willardson and his Maryland lawyer buddy Justin canoed and kayaked from Zaloo's Canoes just south of NC Hwy 88 north about 6 miles to the Wagner Access New River State Park.06/18/2017
The Sunday of June 18, 2017 [Father's Day!], I followed up on my trip announcement in Blue Ridge Outings to lead a group of hikers to Roan Mountain, TN, to participate in the Rhododendron Festival. The festival is an annual event organized by the Tennessee Roan Mountain State Park to promote the peak season for native rhododendrons, flame azaleas and mountain laurels. These flowers grow in wild profusion at the top of the mountain and all over the surrounding hills.07/04/2017
The long weekend before and including July 4, 2017, the Laney clan held their annual family reunion at the three cabins that the family owns in Watauga County. One cabin on Shulls Mill Road was purchased by my parents from a local farmer in 1952 and is the main gathering place which we call 'Hope.' It was truly a mountain shack, with no running water, limited electricity and only a wood stove in the living room for heat. Growing up there in the summers, us kids loved hauling fresh, cold water from the spring down the hill; and going to the bathroom in the outhouse up the hill. That shack burned down in about 1977 and was rebuilt as a more modern house in the 1990's.07/23/2017
On Sunday of July 23, 2017, I went hiking and picnicking on Mount Mitchell with my hiking buddy Annelise. We started at the main peak parking lot and hiked up the short trail to the observation tower at the top of the mountain at 6,684 feet altitude. The air was cool and a little thin, so we felt the difference in the atmosphere as we hiked.07/26/2017
The weekdays of July 24 - 27, 2017, Jimmy and JoAnn Caudill led their annual campaign to paddle the wild Tuckaseegee River running near Dillsboro, southwest of Asheville, NC. Jimmy researched the water release dates and JoAnn contacted the outdoor crew. The happy travelers were Jimmy, JoAnn, John and Vickie Barker, Ricky and Beth Lovette, Jim Sebastian and yours truly.08/23/2017
Over the days of August 23 - 26, 2017, I went camping and hiking in Grayson Highland State Park, VA, with my hiking buddy Annelise. This Park is part of the greater Mount Rogers National Recreational Area, in the Jefferson National Forest. Mount Roger is a few miles north-west of the Park and is the highest point in Virginia. The Appalachian Trail traverses the northern edge of the Park.09/16/2017
On September 16, 2017, I went hiking at several sites on the Blue Ridge Parkway between Asheville, NC, and the Great Smokey Mountain National Park. My hiking buddy was Annelise. We first drove down the Blue Ridge Parkway and enjoyed many views in the clear, warm late summer air. Our first stop was at the Mount Pisgah Recreation Area. I had some hikes mapped out to explore here, but we found so many places to go that we decided to concentrate on three waterfall hikes. The helpful staff at the Mount Pisgah Lodge store gave us directions to the places we chose.