Extreme Grace sent 8 backpackers on the Appalachian Trail to Mt Rogers in Southern Virginia. Shawn "Jumper" Hess, Jim "Cowboy" Miller, Brian "Hairspray" Harshman, Tim "Lost Boy #1"Mercer, Matt "Lost Boy #2" Carey, Dan "Chef" McElwee, Nick "Da Funk" Anderson and Allen "Moses" Lundy set off on what would become an unforgettable adventure. The nicknames above are trail names and will be referred to in the rest of the report. Trail names are given on the trail for some aspect of your trip and become a part of your adventure.
We arrived later than usual due to a feeding frenzy we decided to have right before getting on the trail. We knew the next few days would be rough as far as food goes so we decided to load up on a couple dozen McDonalds Big and Greasys before hitting the trail. This turned out to be a bad decision for 2 reasons. The first was it put us at the put in way later than we would have liked so we ended up hiking to our first nights camp in the dark. This didn't dampen our spirits at all though, we were well up for the challenge. The second reason was a little more severe. 8 guys loaded with Big and Greasys, chased with some trail mix and beef jerky made for a "musical" and potentially deadly campfire.
It is for this reason I carry my own tent and don't share. Jumper and Da Funk were not so lucky as they shared. Poor guys...
The next morning welcomed us with plentiful sunshine and promised to be a great day for hiking. It was a crisp 2 mile uphill climb to our first break spot on Pine Mountain. It was here that Cowboy discovered that someone had put a football in his pack. Although we had a good time passing it around, Cowboy is a man of great order and procedure and was quite put out and wanted to see justice served. Even though I never joke or play pranks and am always serious and upfront with the group I was blamed for this breech of backpacker etiquette and the group sentenced me to stand on my hands for 1 hour on top of Pine Mountain. I didn't want a mutiny on my hands so I went along with this unjust punishment knowing I was innocent. (We later found out the culprit was Doug Jackson, undoubtedly bitter at not being able to go on the trip) Punishment served we continued on the trail. Our lunch stop was at a place called the Scales where we regrouped once again to enjoy some yummy trail vittles.
Jumper had prepped for the trip by watching Survivorman all week and found some strange mushrooms growing and we think he had a hearty feast of this bounty of nature. We weren't sure if they were safe to eat or not but he seemed fine, except he started acting all crazy jumping from peak to peak.
He was fine afterward and we continued on our way. The rest of the day was very pleasant until we get to camp and find the the 2 Lost Boys had taken an alternate route. They seemed to have a little difficulty following the white blazed trail which made us wonder if they had gotten into Jumper's mushrooms. Several hours later though, they wandered into camp and all was well.
As it turned out, this is one of the few pictures we have of one of the Lost Boys cause they spent so much time being lost we were unable to document their hike. I think maybe they enjoyed the hike so much they wanted to take every trail in the area.
Day 3 - Tuesday. This was to be the highlight of our trip. We were to climb up the mountain range of the Grayson Highlands area which provides the most spectacular scenery in the area.
Part of this area is the Wilburn Ridge trail which takes us up the most challenging, yet rewarding part of the trip, a section of the trail that required some bouldering.
Da Funk was not to be fazed by the climb and showed us all the kind of determination he had.
We stayed behind for awhile to make sure everyone made the Wilburn Ridge intersection and learned that the Lost Boys were at it again. They decided to take some horse trail to who knows where. We decided our best course of action would be to go to higher ground to see if we could spot them somewhere. Upon reaching the top we were met by a wise guru. He shared with us how to stop the global warming crisis and the answers to the health care debacle. We told him what we would really like to know was where the Lost Boys were but he was unable to help us with that problem.
After awhile the Lost Boys found their way to the top and we were once again reunited. Pastor Shawn treated us to a devotional that was fantastic. Hearing God's word while seeing that view was simply amazing. The rocks truly cry out in praise of our God.
This same area is also known for the wild horses that live there. We saw many on this day and were able to get up close for some pictures. This proved to be a mistake. One horse in particular, "Tina Turner" enjoyed having her picture taken so much that she told the herd where we were camping that night.
"Tina" and the rest of the herd was waiting for us when we got to camp that night.
Of course I'm only guessing it was "Tina's" camera obsession, maybe it was Da Funks socks that attracted them.
The next morning was pretty uneventful as we hiked out. The Lost Boys didn't disappoint however and gave us another pretty good scare by turning a 2 hour hike into 6 hours. At the end everyone made it safe and sound and a good time was had by all.