Monday–May 24, 2021
Location, VA-650, Dickey Gap, then to Grayson Highlands State Park, Chestnut Hollow Campground, AT Mile 518.6
Another before-sunrise five-thirty morning. And yet another fine breakfast prepared by Stanley. It’s a short distance from the campground to the trail, so Stanley has us hiking well before eight.
The AT continues meandering the lush open meadows of Grayson Highlands, beside the picturesque boulder-topped pinnacles, for which the Highlands are famous. Famous, too, the wild ponies that live and thrive here. We’re soon the happy visitors among more of them; plus another little foal. Lots more pictures. I’ll share a couple.
As we continue, the meadows slope down. Passing a gated fence, more animals of interest–longhorns; lots of longhorns.
Leaving the Highlands and descending, the trail enters one of the most difficult and dangerous sections of trail encountered so far–boulders on top of boulders, and incredibly long segments of up, down, and sidehill roots and rocks. It was here in the Lewis Fork Wilderness that I injured my right knee during Odyssey ’98 and as a result I suffered from excruciating pain for almost two weeks.
Late morning, Stanley comes up to an intermediate road crossing to bring me lunch. Joe decides he needs to go home, so he leaves the trail and returns to his car with Stanley. I hike the remainder of the day alone. Stanley comes for me in the evening and we return to his little pop-up camper. Days like this one–what memories are made of…
We are all capable of living lives characterized by great joy.
Within each of us is an amazing human spirit
that is strong enough to overcome pain and disappointment.
(Salle Merrill Redfield)