Oh yeah baby, today was a SWEET day! Despite my limited mobility and Richard having to do the brunt of the lifting and pulling to pack up, we were both in a great mood and looking forward to our ride on that beautiful day. We said goodbye to Mike, Sharron, and Olivia, as well as Mary who stopped by to say farewell. Then we headed down the 5 miles of road we had to cover and started up our much anticipated mountain trail.
Well, it was more like an old dirt road, but it was OFF-ROAD, which was all that mattered to us! No cars to deal with, no pavement, no noise- just us, our animals, and the woods. It was awesome and rejuvenating.
The road kind of fizzled out as we got to the top of the peak, but we managed to push through the brush and brambles in the last hundred yards and came to the expected gate. The owners had told us that the locks at been on the gate for who knows how long, and they had no idea who had the key anymore. “Go ahead and cut the fence. I’m sure it’s falling apart and you’ll be able to put it back up without a problem.” And that, my friends, is why we still carry a fencing tool. It’s one of the few times we had to use it, but they are very valuable in a situation like this. It’s kind of an interesting feeling staring at “no trespassing” signs while you are cutting a fence- but knowing that you have permission to do so!
The map was accurate on the way down- the dirt road was extremely curvy with switch-backs. We were tempted just to cut all the corners, but the way the road was graded on the edges, it would have been harder on the pack horses, so we went the long way- back and forth, back and forth.
We crossed the road at the bottom and walked down the driveway of the family who gave us permission to cut through their property on the next mountain. They were expecting us and greeted us in their yard with cameras in hand. We were not expecting them to get involved other than us passing through, but before we left, they had offered to find us a place to camp on the other side of the mountain and bring hay if we needed it!
We headed up the mountain on the abandoned logging road, fully expecting to have challenges finding our way. Our map suggested there might be junctions in the trail and we had spent quite a bit of time zooming in on google maps the day before and the route was not clear. We had written down directions for which turns to take as best we could and had our compasses out and ready.
The road wound up and up and up and up. We had to take several rests for the horses (and us when we were walking) to catch our breath. Our lungs have gotten pretty soft just riding the roads lately and not hiking on trails! Somewhat suddenly, we emerged onto a flat spot that was clearly the top of the ridge. What?! That’s it? No confusion, no wrong turns?! That was EASY! We met a couple people on top of the mountain, then started heading down. We were elated that we were on our last major downhill of the Appalachians- with absolutely no hitches in our day! It was beautiful, smoothly executed, and a wonderful last ‘hurah’ as we started to exit our last mountain range of the ride. I seriously can not wait to be done riding on the roads and get back home where we can enjoy mountain trails again. We miss that alot.
We were met at the bottom by the owners of the property on the other side of the mountain, and he escorted us a couple miles down route 11 to the field we were to camp in. We set up camp under a tractor shed, and the horses had run of the pasture.
It was our first day dealing with the time change and loss of daylight so much earlier. We were in a good mood, but it was already dark and neither of us felt like cooking, so Richard decided to splurge and order us some Pizza Hut straight to the tent. Now that was a unique end to a good day and we had an amused laugh over the very confused delivery man!