Finding Our Way Up

Back in late October, we took a hike that, while only two miles and small compared to the hikes we used to take, was big in its significance to us.  Since Tom injured his knee a year ago, he’d been unable to hike,  and we both keenly missed our usual treks to favorite trails up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and elsewhere last summer.  And since Benjamin broke his back the previous summer, he’s been reluctant to subject his still vulnerable spine to the rigors of a mountain hike.

But Tom’s knee has been slowly healing, as has Benjamin’s back, so the late October weather was a perfect time to give our long-unused hiking muscles a little workout.  I researched many trails before finding one that was challenging enough to test our mettle, but easy enough to be free of undue pain.  I found the perfect hike on Bearwallow Mountain, a privately owned mountain south of here, part of which has been placed in a conservation easement so that folks like us are free to share the beautiful views from the grassy pasture at the top with the lucky cows who graze there.  The summit of Bearwallow is 4,232 feet above sea level, so the elevation gain is considerable.  But the new trail, built by volunteers from the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy and other groups, is so skillfully built (with switchbacks and gorgeous rock features) that we climbed with ease.  Thank you, volunteers–we are so grateful for your work!

Here’s a wood duck we encountered on the trail.

To our delight, the asters were still blooming and the honeybees still buzzing

Though it was late in the season, there was still color sweeping across the top of Bearwallow. 

I loved how these trees, bowed but not broken by the wind, almost seemed to be growing from the rocks.

Some hikers online warned of possible rogue cows on Bearwallow, but all the bovines seemed peaceful to us, if quite curious.

Because of all the communication towers on top of Bearwallow, as well as a former fire tower, there is a gracefully winding road to the top, which we traveled for our journey down.  I felt sad when our hike ended, as it was the first time in a very long time that I’d been able to, at least temporarily, shake off the sense of constant disquietude that has dogged me for a long time now.  I was worried at the start of the hike about Tom’s knee and Benjamin’s back, as well as anxiety about other troubles that seems to gnaw at my gut almost constantly.  But somehow, watching Tom and Benjamin ahead of me climb the trail with strong and sure steps, helped to ease that gnawing for a while and I felt at peace.  And the beauty of the trees and mountains and rocks and sky as far as the eye can see at the top, along with the placidity of the curious cows, filled me that day with a joy and serenity that I had not felt for a long time.  Even now, I feel a sense of comfort and well-being,  looking at these pictures and remembering how I felt that day when I laid down my burdens for a while.

I guess we need to take another hike…soon. :-)

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15 Responses to “Finding Our Way Up”

  1. Kay Guest Says:

    Oh, I am so glad that you were all able to go on this hike! And happy that you did a post about it.
    I want to go on this hike! The views are just incredible and they just do my heart good to see them on your blog.
    Beth, you must do more posts because you are such a good writer!
    Oh, and that wood duck made me laugh!

  2. Bonnie Jacobs Says:

    I’m so happy to see you posting! You are still in my prayers, and I’m glad you were able to make this hike. Yup, definitely a wood duck.

  3. Plowing Through Life (Martha) Says:

    Such lovely photos, Beth. I feel calmer just looking at them; I can well imagine the effect in real time. There’s nothing like Mother Nature to soothe the soul. I’m happy you got a chance to take this hike with your boys. And I’m happy to be ‘reading’ you again. It’s been awhile, and I always look forward to your writing. I hope things are going well for all of you! It’s too bad you’re so far away. I know I would enjoy a cup of coffee with you and some interesting conversation.

  4. Clair Z. Says:

    Lovely to see you here, Beth. I just dragged The Beth Chair out onto the porch and into the warm sunshine yesterday. It still bears the swatch of green across the top, a statement of the color I (still) intend to paint it. I believe that all things are possible in Spring!

  5. Jayne Says:

    Wish I could come take a hike with you my friend. Something tells me that it would be unlike any hike I’d taken with you along to make it more beautiful as you point out so many hidden blessings along the way. xoxo

  6. betsyfromtennessee Says:

    That is awesome, Beth… So glad that all of you are out hiking some again. I do hope you all continue it –as much as you can. Hiking always makes me feel so much better. In fact, we are in West VA right now checking out some new waterfalls. We are celebrating George’s birthday here…
    Hugs,
    Betsy

  7. CountryDew Says:

    Lovely photos! I hope you are out hiking soon. March seems to have brought spring with it.

  8. Darla Says:

    Beautiful writing and photos; love the wood duck and the trees growing from rock. And I am SO happy that you all were able to enjoy the hike! (((BIGHUG)))

  9. Vicki Lane Says:

    Wonderful pictures! Love the wood duck — would have loved to see the rogue cow as well. What a concept!

  10. Jeff Says:

    I think you’d like the permaculture video I posted on my blog today…

  11. Clara Melvin Says:

    Hi Beth. I have missed you. My blogging is just about a thing of the past, but will try to do better. I’m fine, but still burdened. Guess I need to take a long hike!

  12. Sweetflutterbys3 Says:

    Breathtaking views! Thank you for taking us along with you all. I’m glad everyone was feeling healthy enough to go. Time together like that can heal a lot.

  13. birdsandbenjamin Says:

    I think the ‘rogue’ statement might have referred to a cow which was present earlier (perhaps a bull). I enjoyed that hike a great deal, and I was glad to be spending time together. I am sure I would enjoy it even more now.

    The wood duck’s bark is much worse than it’s bite.

  14. Rider Says:

    Your posting is so wonderfully written, Ms. Blue, that I know you worked long hours on it.

    I just wanted to say, “Thank you.”

  15. Jes Says:

    What a beautiful hike! I’m so glad that organizations exist to manage easements & build trails. Hiking can be so healing–I hope you all can get out soon to enjoy the freakish spring weather with all the flowers it’s beginning to bring out.

    I never knew you all lived in Roanoke for awhile–what a nice connection :) I actually love the Star, just find it quirky and a little strange. I’m glad they switched it back to its original all-white look, the patriotic thing was a little over the top. From our new house we can see it through the bedroom window, along with McAfee’s out the other–so lucky! As for the subs, I’ve been meaning to check out their new location in the Market building. Will have to do so ASAP, thanks for the rec!

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