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Wild pony along the trail.

On the Appalachian Trail with Lauren and Grace (pt 9)

Gorgeous view from the Appalachian Trail.
Gorgeous view from the Appalachian Trail.

As we wrap up our third month on the trail, Grace and I walked through what quickly became my favorite section of the AT thus far: Virginia, especially Shenandoah national park.  Fall surrounded us with the yellowed leaves of maples and tulip poplars and we were in a fog as we made our way through five mostly rainy days.  We walked over rolling hills and pastures.  the hiking easy, our efforts rewarded on the somewhat clearer days with gorgeous views of the valleys below us. We were oftentimes wet and chilly, but I couldn’t help but feel happy in this new place. We had made it, finally, to Virginia, to The South, the place we’d been looking forward to for months, only half realizing we would actually one day arrive there.

Grace and I celebrated our three-month trail anniversary by going to a restaurant just off the trail.  To top off our anniversary the woman next to us even paid for our dinner! = ) Without saying it, our time here has been special to us:  a time to revel in our accomplishments and celebrate a friendship that’s not only lasted through childhood, but through this wild AT journey of ours- all this while taking in the beauty of the most ancient hills in the whole world as they bloomed with fall colors. Only 467 miles left.  It’s weird that 467 doesn’t even seem like that much anymore.

On a side note here is a wildlife update: we have seen a few bears.  Bald eagle. Beaver. Porcupine.  Annnnnd my favorite: WILD PONIES!  They were in the Grayson highlands of southern virginia just frolicking about up in the mystical pastures in the clouds.  Although, they couldn’t have been that wild because they even let us pet them! Our friend tried to ride one, the pony didn’t like that much and tried to snap at him. Eeeeek.

However, the most common wildlife we stumbled upon have been white-tailed deer that looked at us with wide eyes that- unlike most animals out here- lacked fear. These deer were used to humans, and would let us get within six feet of them before letting us pass on the trail. It was kind of eery, actually. I read somewhere that all the deer in the Shenandoah park are descendants of only thirteen ancestors released sometime after the area was designated a national park. Pretty cool.

In a not-so-happy update, I’ve recently had a bit of a tough time after falling last week and injuring my right quad, then coming down with a nasty case of giardia. I’ve rested for the better part of the week- the zero days quickly turning from restful to restless- and am hoping to be all healed up and ready to hike again soon. I’m confident that all will be well, but your prayers, good vibes, happy thoughts, golden retriever puppies sent via mail, etc., would all be appreciated.

I miss you dearly, friends, and look forward to seeing you soon!

About Grace Schneider

One comment

  1. Susan Weatherhead

    What a profound journey you are on…I am living vicariously. This adventure is setting the stage for other great feats in the years to come. Forge on!

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