Day 6 we saved to just explore Pittsburgh. I went out for a short run and then took the kids to breakfast. On the way we saw “Mass Yoga:”
The next 3 days were the annual ACCS conference, which filled our days. I won’t write here about all the great sessions and plenaries, others than to copy in a snippet that George Grant used about “The Long Explore…”
I’ve got a splendid idea! Now listen: we’ll take Tigger for a long explore, see, somewhere he’s never been before. And we’ll lose him there!
Winnie the Pooh:
[awakes] Lose him?
Oh, we’ll find him again next morning, and mark my words, he’ll be a humble Tigger, a small and sad Tigger, and a “oh, rabbit, am I glad to see you” Tigger. And it’ll take the bounces out of him, that’s what! Now, all in favor, say ‘aye’.
Aye. [Pooh falls asleep again] Pooh. [shakes Pooh awake] Pooh!
Winnie the Pooh:
[waking up, then raising his hand] Oh, here.
Oh-ho-ho, good. Just good. Motion carried.
Why include this? It reminded me a lot of why I tackle some of the adventures I do — to be humbled, to be reminded of how small I really am. I don’t get sad, though, I get excited! It’s a beautiful world, meant to be explored!
After the conference was over around noon, we drove up to Grove City College to get a guided tour of the campus. It’s a great little school and a wonderful campus.
And that night Kelly and I went to a fantastic restaurant (Piratas) while the kids stayed back — they were full from lunch and didn’t want dinner just snacks.
A long car ride, packing for multiple trips within a trip (DC, Pittsburg for school conference and exploring, NYC, DE (beach)) and this is what you get:
On the trip to Pittsburg from DC, we decided to stop by and see the United Flight 93 National Memorial in PA. It was amazingly well done, and very much worth the time.
I really had no idea how emotional I’d get at the memorial. It started at the overlook, but inside the Visitor’s center as I was reading the minute by minute account of the day, it got worse. I lost it when the TV clips they were playing replayed the Today Show footage of the 2nd flight hitting the Trade Center — I remember that exact clip as I was watching it live as it happened, and that brought the memories flooding back. For those of you that don’t know, Danny Lewin, the co-founder of Akamai, was on American flight 11, so 9-11 has always been a very emotional memory for all of us that knew him and were working there that day, and I still get so sad when re-living it. 😦
Once we got to Pittsburg, I got out for a quick run along the river(s):
And then we went to Burgatory for dinner, and I got this fortune:
This looks like a great place for a conference and to explore post conference for a couple of days…
This year we won’t be heading to a national park out west 😦 — instead have quite the itinerary planned on the east coast with stops in DC, Pittsburg, girls to NYC and boys to DE, etc.
Day 1 had us drive to DC to the National Cathederal and then see U2 with our friends the Martins in seats next to us, and other friends from PBO and Chapel Hill in attendance but not directly with us.
Photos of the day below.
A golden opportunity to mention quantity missed?
The National Cathedral had damage in an earthquake a couple years back that they will be working of for quite some time.
Stained glass depicting NASA’s trip to the moon:
After the Cathedral we got a taste of DC traffic — about an hour to go just 13 miles to get to the hotel! We had a quick turn around to get a quick bite to eat and to the stadium for the show. We got an Uber Black but on the way to dinner changed plans and had him drop us off at Chinese, and then walked to the stadium.
After ticket resolution, we finally made it in and got see the Lumineers play a couple songs!
U2 was pretty amazing, as always.
I slept much better on the 2nd night, as per usual. I was a bit worried about the cold, but it ended up not being as cold as the 1st night. Sometime just before 6 a.m., though, I was woken by sounds that are very hard to explain. In hindsight, it’s easy to call them “aggressive munching sounds.” This was right next to me on the right side of my tent. And then something was making noise on the upper side of the left tent. I quickly looked up, and saw the shadow of a head of some kind of animal poking its snout all over my tent! Based on the way the light was behind it, and not being fully awake, it was not a shape that made sense to me, but my 1st guess was baby bear. I sleep with my hiking poles in the tent, so I “gently” tapped the top corner of the tent a couple times to get it to move.
Once that was done, I could hear munching all around the tents. I poked my head out and could see lots of animals — adult and baby horses! I couldn’t get my phone camera to work for a bit, and all I got was this crazy video:
Well once the animals cleared out, there was no getting back to sleep. But being awake did allow me to watch an incredible sunrise:
After we had breakfast and packed, we walked down to a nice site for morning prayer. This was the site on way down:
During prayer there were horses all around us, and some kept going after various packs — trying to get inside, etc. During the NT reading, there was literally a stampede right through the middle of our group, and Shea had to jump out of the way, while I had to jump behind a tree. I have a little video of the aftermath where they were running back through:
Eventually the horses let us be and we were able to complete a wonderful morning prayer service, including communion.
As the last day we just had a 5 mile hike, mostly downhill;
All in all another great trip. I hope to take some of the 2sparrows clan out on this same loop in July. But every time I am on the AT, I can’t help but thinking about thru-hiking. I’ve done close to 500 miles on it now, but spread out over many years. I really would like a crack at doing it in one go someday!
I never sleep well on Day 1 on the trail, and this trip was no different. Despite a camp site right next to a load stream, which was wonderful, I still tossed and turned a bit. And I was chilly, even in my so called 20F bag. Granted I did not put on my socks or jacket, but still! I woke up early and decided to walk the 5 minutes towards the shelter, as there were two nice privy’s there.
Shea was camped near me, without even a rainfly:
On the way back I heard what I thought sounded like a lot of cows coming our way, and hoped the guys up on the ridge were awake! (Shea, David, Caleb, and myself had all camped lower by the stream.) I arrived and luckily the guys were up, with at least 10 large steer (including LARGE horns) all mixed amongst their tents, including this fire eating bad boy:
And a video:
After all the excitement, I made another amazing cup of stream side coffee:
The privy (“a poo with a view”):
We had a shorter hike today, but it was still a climb:
Once we reached the top of that climb it was really open and exposed — and crowded. There’s a day hiker’s parking lot not far from there, and there were a lot of people out. It was still gorgeous:
We debated at the top about what to do. Shea had scouted the area by the spring, and it was crowded. There were other options further on, but since he hadn’t scouted them, we didn’t know if they’d be any better. In the end we headed to the spring and eventually found some good camp sites.
After setting up, Bob and I decided to “fast pack” to Mount Rogers (just a small day back).
The summer Holy Trinity Chatham back packing trip was set for Grayson Highlands State Park in VA. Michael and I drove up and met the crew — large this time at 15 hikers, at the trail head. We were joining the AT at Fairwood Road (VA 603). The two of us got there late due to a nail in the tire that had to be taken care of before we left Pittsboro, right when most of the hikers were ready to go. The big group took off and Michael and I left 15-20 minutes later.
We caught the main group half way up the hill, and then I decided to keep moving to find Shae, Caleb, and Bob, who were ahead. After at least an hour or more on my own, I started to worry that perhaps the plan had changed and I hadn’t been told! I had stayed on the AT, but never saw the lead group. I reached the 6 mile point, where the itinerary said the shelter would be, but it was at least another two miles according to the map and other hikers. I debated for quite some time here on what to do, eventually finding a nice rock to make a cup of coffee on and wait. And wait. And Wait.
After 45 minutes I debated whether I should just go forward to the shelter/camp site and wait, or go back. I assumed either way if the plan had changed, someone would realize I was following the original plan and come find me. I opted to hike back to the group, and after at least a mile, finally came across Shea, Caleb, and Bob. They had waited at a trail junction, but slightly off the trail, and we never saw each other. The four of hiked on to the camp area and set up our own tents, and waited for the rest of the crew to show up.
Strava data – this includes my back and forth route along the AT:
Trailhead sign (and my HEAVY pack — I packed enough to solo thru-hike the AT other than food!):
I was my own barista on the trail, waiting for the group and debating whether to go forward or back… The coconut is a bit sweet for me, but the frothiness was good.
Lots of ponies by the shelter… We had camped before this, on the other side of a fence and stream as no tents were allowed in this area.
A good place for the food, considering the bear stories we had heard on the trail and read in the log book at Wise Shelter…