This past Memorial Day weekend, we made a trek to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area. My husband and I have a friend living here in Tennessee for a while by way of a big city. We thought Mt. Rogers in Virginia was the most magical place to take him on a backpacking trip. It did not disappoint!
The Mt. Rogers area is a wild, pristine place with spectacular landscapes and amazing views. Giant boulders lend themselves as grand vistas from which to rest and enjoy the panoramic views. In most places, one can see for miles and miles and not spot one man-made object. Spruce and fir trees dot the rocky slopes. Meadow clearings can be seen far away with specks of wild ponies grazing, maintaining the pastoral scenery.
With our little dog, Rufus, in tow, we strapped on our packs and hit the trail.
We started out in a wooded forest, where spring looked like it was just beginning with lots of wildflowers blooming, including violets, Jack-in-the-pulpit, bluets, wood anemone, etc. The striped maples and shiny-barked birch trees had newly emerged bright green leaves. Unseen songbird music filled the air.
From there, we emerged into an alpine type meadow where hawks called and circled overhead and ravens squawked. Trillium were still blooming and ferns were unfurling in fairy rings.
Wild ponies grazed here, many of which are quite tame, and there were also long horned cattle grazing the area. Rufus seized the opportunity to herd them at one point!
My absolute favorite things about this place are the windswept trees in the meadows that are distorted and weathered, permanently bent over and sculpted by the harsh wind seemingly ever blowing in one direction. To be adaptable and to withstand the adversity of the weather conditions gives these trees the shape of wisdom…
By the third and final morning of our journey, Rufus had run back and forth so much, that his hips were sore and he had blisters on his paw pads. That didn’t stop him from chasing away two deer that were cautiously approaching our campsite, though! However, we were worried about how he would handle the three miles back to the car, so we decided that Jake would carry him a ways. We fashioned a sling made out of our hammock for him to rest in while we hiked over the last rocky, tushie-challenging leg of the trail. He rode that way for about a mile and then decided he’d rather walk. His gait improved as the pain in his legs and paws gave way to the sheer excitement of his surroundings. We kept him leashed so he wouldn’t overdo it.
Jake was worn out from carrying Rufus over the steep terrain and had a bad headache coming on. I was generally tired and sore from my ill-fitting backpack, so we took lots of breaks. It gave our friend time to soak up all the wildness and to sit and meditate while sitting ‘on top of the world’. All of us were so happy to see the parking lot at the end of our adventure and ready to eat some greasy food in Damascus!
Traversing miles of terrain can leave one sore, bruised, and a bit banged up, but it’s an accomplished sort of tiredness. Being in wild places is medicine. The mind relaxes, the breath deepens, and the spirit soars.