We started on the Rhododendron Trail in Massie Gap at Grayson Highlands State Park (lower right) at 4600 feet. After half a mile, we picked up the Appalachian Trail, and stayed on it for the remainder of the trip. We finished up there in the top left at Mount Rogers, 5728 feet, after a 4.5 mile climb over rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. Then we went back. Total hiking time: 6 hours
Up we go!
We encountered this group of college kids several times throughout the day. Second from right: dude in kilt. Awesome.
I’d been muttering that we’d better damn well see some of these wild ponies they keep talking about in the park. Less than half a mile in, we met two!
“You got any treats in that pocket?”
So while I was snapping a selfie with this one…
… this one was trying to bite my behind.
And Tim captured that very moment!
Some of the ponies blend right in — and then kind of spook you a little when they cross the trail in front of you.
Rocks. Have I mentioned that we climbed over a lot of rocks? And that I do not want to see rocks again for a long time? This is the actual trail.
Nearing the summit, we encountered this group of 15 ponies. You’ll notice the one on the far left is lying on its side. Some other hikers thought it was giving birth. I thought it was dead. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference.
The spruce-fir forest atop Mount Rogers is the only one of its kind in Virginia.
This humble little US Geodetic Survey disk is all that marks the summit of Mount Rogers, the highest point in Virginia. And if you don’t look on the right boulder, you’ll miss it.
On the way back down: more ponies! This never gets old. You’re not supposed to feed them or pet them. We may or may not have broken that second rule.
Purple mountains, full of majesty, on another perfect hiking day in southwestern VA