As a high school student I dreamed of going to University of Colorado at Boulder. My Dad took me to visit the campus and I was in love! It was so close to the Rockies, so much hiking, and adventure to be embark upon. And a $40,000/ year price tag (in 1993!). It was a no go 🙁
However, when I was a freshman at The University of South Carolina (Go Gamecocks!!), I heard about the National Student Exchange Program (NSE). Basically, you pay your in state school tuition and can go to any of the schools that participate in the US. I remember my heart beating so fast as I walked to the NSE office to see if I could finally get to Boulder. A little heartbreak ensued learning that at that time there were none (NONE) in Colorado (now there are 6). After my initial heartbreak, my eyes moved a little south on the map, and I chose to spend a year at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, AZ.
That year was one of the best years of my life! While I was there I was able to travel around the southwest, and it was there that my love of hiking and backpacking was really ignited.
Flash forward to spring of this year. I had been on hiatus from hiking for a while (just life) but was determined to get back to it and have been hiking consistently since then. I have joined several Meet Up Groups in Charlottesville and this past weekend I joined GetHiking! Charlottesville for a hike on the Appalachian Trail. The awesome thing about going with a meet up is that much of the planning is done by the leaders. I also hike alone but it is really good to be part of the hiking community as well.
The Grit factor for this hike was pretty low, but I needed an easier walk. The past several I have done were really tough for me.
Here’s a brief description from the Meet Up Website:
The hike will start at Milam Gap Parking Area in the Park’s Central District, where we will hike North on the Appalachian Trail (AT). This pretty section of AT will lead us up to the backside of Big Meadows, where we will enjoy some great views from Blackrock (not the same place as the Blackrock Summit).
From Blackrock, we’ll hike down to the Lodge at Big Meadows. The next almost mile of the hike may be too pedestrian for some (this is not a hike for trail ‘purest’), as we’ll make our way down to Big Meadows ‘Wayside’ on a paved footpath. We’ll stop for a break at the Wayside – don’t forget to bring lunch/snacks. We’ll depart Big Meadows along Skyline Drive, where we’ll catch a good look at the ‘Meadows’ – from here we’ll reconnect with the AT and return South to the parking area.
I had a great time on this hike! The trail in general was easier -i.e about 5 miles and relatively flat- barring one steady incline. It also was the first hike I have been on since the spring where it was not above 85 degrees outside. There was one view point (Blackrock) that….well, you’ll see in pics below. It was a wonderfully, cool, misty day to be in the mountains and I am excited for more hiking adventures with GetHiking!