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Hiked the Appalachian Trail by Mistake

I almost didn't get to write this story, not because I was in any danger, but because Jose nearly killed me. We are in Charlottesville, Virginia and yesterday we went to Shenandoah National Park for a hike. We drove along Skyline Drive, stopping several times to take pictures of the incredible scenery around us, and rode to Loft Mountain, where we planned to hike the Loft Mountain Loop. At the Camp Store, we met a couple who had been hiking the Appalachian Trail for months. After a brief chat, they headed into the backcountry trail to continue on their hike, and we walked into the Frazier Discovery Trail. We had packed enough food and water as if we were going on a ten-day adventure, so I was disappointed when only a few hundred feet into our hike, we saw a water fountain and thought, how rough can this trail be. I was relieved to see there was no water in the fountain; real mountain trails don't have water.

When we were about one and a half-mile into the trail, we noticed we weren't at the halfway point of our two-mile loop. Jose started to get mad and I to get worried. We hadn’t seen a soul along the very rugged terrain and were beginning to imagine spending the night among the bears. Jose wanted to turn around, but I insisted this was a loop, and we had not arrived at the midway point where we would find the overlook marked in the All-Trails map. We just needed to keep going. Another half mile and still we hadn't arrived at the overlook, and all we're seeing are birds, trees, and rocks. We were about to turn around when we saw the couple we had met at the trailhead coming in the opposite direction. We had taken a wrong turn and were on the Appalachian portion of the loop. They reassured us we would find our way back to the Camp Store if we kept walking. We were only another thousand feet from the rocky ledge we had come to see. We ended up hiking almost four miles, but we did get to see the overlook, and it was worth it. We arrived at the Camp Store exhausted. The Appalachian hikers said hiking was a great way to get in shape and lose weight, but when we got back to the car, having eaten all the food we brought with us, I still had the twenty extra pounds I gained during Covid. I guess one four-mile hike isn't enough!

We needed a little strenuous exercise since we had enjoyed a week of relaxation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We stayed at Camp Hatteras in Rodanthe, where they filmed Nights in Rodanthe with Richard Geer and Diane Lane, one of my favorites movies, and I saw a replica of the house used in the film. The original house was damaged by a hurricane and is now a private residence. We explored the sandy beaches along Cape Hatteras National Seashore, visited light stations, saw giant dunes at Jockey's Ridge State Park, rode a ferry to Ocracoke Island, and ate lots of fish.

Most memorable was the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hill. It was exciting to walk the fields where the first flight took place after years of perseverance and hard work by the Wright brothers. There's an area where they've reconstructed that first flight, and among the bronze statues, you can feel the exhilaration of the two brothers, the photographer capturing the moment, three observers, and a young boy who happened to be there that day. That field and the large stone memorial monument on top of the hill take your breath away. Inscribed on the monument's wall are the words "Inspired by genius, achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith."

We also visited Fort Raleigh and the Lost Colony and walked in an Elizabethan Garden where I took lots of pictures for my flower collection.

Next, we will spend a few days in Maryland and Pennsylvania.


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