In fall of 2016, at 30 weeks pregnant, Casey and I decided to go hike part of the Appalachian Trial in the Grayson Highland State Park. Let me start by saying that this trail was the most beautiful (in my opinion) of the sections we have been on in Virginia. There is nothing more exciting than wild ponies and hiking!
We started day one around 4p.m. (after driving 6 hours from home base) by hiking out of Massie Gap from inside the park. We started our 15-mile loop on the Rhododendron Trail which takes a right onto the AT. We hiked out about 3-miles to the first shelter, which also has a water source down the hill. (No pony sightings, yet)
Day two we hiked back out on the AT about 4 miles to the Scales parking lot. This is when the ponies started flocking! There was not a moment on the second day that the ponies weren't right next to us or a view from the distance. Until hiking down to the Scales parking lot, you stay on a ridge with 360 views of the stunning park. From Scales, we then took a left onto Crest Trail, which is a multi-use trail, so even if you don't see wild ponies you will see plenty of horse poop and riders! We followed the CT back to the AT about 3 more miles (this is straight uphill, so prepare yourself). Being 30-weeks pregnant, this was a VERY slow 3 miles. From the AT you can then hike up to Mount Rogers, the tallest mountain in Virginia. There are limited views from Mt. Rogers, all you see are trees and a sign. The hike to the top of MR you are surrounded by ponies and the best smelling fir trees in the world. We went right before Christmas so it set the mood for the season! We camped right at the base of the MR trail in a little wooded area with views of the valley below us.
Pregnancy notes for day two: Patrick was really pushing against my bladder night 2 and in 30-degree weather with wind blowing 30+mph, getting out of the tent was a hassle. No matter how much you're trying to avoid getting out to go, make sure you stay hydrated! I literally crawled behind the tent in the woods to make sure the wind was blocking me and put Hot Hands in my pants when I was done. Sounds silly, but I'm convinced it saved my life!
Day three we hiked all the way out on the AT back to home base at Massie Gap, which was a wonderful downhill trek the whole way! We took our time and hiked out on all of the boulders to see those beautiful views. Again, ponies everywhere the 3rd day. This is when I met my pregnant pony soul sister. She felt my pain and came up to me, so I got a little pet (they say not to do this, but I'm a sucker for furry animals).
Whether your goal is to hike the AT one day or just looking for a day hike, I suggest you get out to see these beautiful, well maintained trails and enjoy the company of our wild ponies!
Back Country Momma