Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grayson Highlands State Park & other Adventures

The day started early with a midnight wake up call from  my LP/CO detector! After clawing my way out of my sleeping bag and getting the lights on and determining what was going on, I got up and opened the door to get some fresh, 22*, air in and the alarm went off. I wasn’t sure why the alarm was going off – malfunction?  Actual issue? I wasn’t running any propane appliances at the time so it seemed like maybe it was a malfunction. I went out and turned off the propane just in case and even opened a window just in case (yes, it was 22* and I was sleeping with the window open! The van has no insulation so it doesn’t really matter if the window is open or not!).  I crawled back in my sleeping bag and was almost asleep when it went off again.  At this point I wasn’t sure what to do.  It was the middle of the night and it was freezing and I kept having to open the door to shut off the detector.  I packed up my sleeping bag and pillow and went up Dad’s site to sleep in his RV.

He’d left the door unlocked so I attempted to sneak in, but I failed and scared the crap out of him, but once I explained what was going on he went back to sleep and I threw my sleeping bag on the couch/bed and got a little sleep.  It was 2am before I went to sleep and I was up by 7.  I went back to my RV and got ready for the day – running every propane appliance I own, with the doors closed and the alarm did not go off.  I figured that the detector was malfunctioning.  I was a bit paranoid though because the middle of the night alarm was so random I had no idea if/when it would go off again.

It was a beautiful morning! Bright blue sky, bright sun, crisp air! Since it was so cold we decided to have a leisurely breakfast before heading out around 9:30 to Grayson Highlands State Park.  It took about 30 minutes to get around to the park and get parked at Massie Gap. 

Grayson Highlands is unique because it has an almost alpine feel with large open mountaintops and low scruffy plant growth and big rock outcroppings.  It is also unique because they have herds of wild ponies that graze openly in the high meadows. 

We started at Massie Gap and hiked up to the AT and then to the Wise Shelter and down a horse trail/fire road to the campground and back around to Massie Gap.  It was about 7-8 miles – we aren’t sure, the GPS malfunctioned.  It was a nice hike, great scenery, beautiful weather, and the trail wasn’t too strenuous.  We even followed a herd of ponies down the trail at one point!






We were at the car and getting ready to depart and a guy walked up to the pick-up truck next to us and commented about how we had “all the gear we need!”  (The jeep has 2 bikes on the back and bright yellow kayak on the top!)   We struck up  conversation with him – he was a Marine from Triangle and was doing recon for a Appalachian Trail “Relay” he was planning for the Marines in May.  They are going to run the entire AT from NC to Harper’s Ferry in 10 days.  They will have to maintain a 4.5 mph pace!  The guy we were talking to is going to drive the support van! 

We wrapped up our conversation with him and headed back to the campground.  We stopped at the overlook in the park to enjoy the view and then drove up the road to Whitetop Mountain.  Whitetop Mt is the 2nd highest in the state, and you can drive to the top and take in the view!  There were trees at the top that were still covered with ice from yesterday’s snow!  It looked like they’d been spray painted.   The view at the top was nice, but what got our attention was that we both had cell phone signal!  Dad called mom and I was texting my friend Kathy.  I didn’t have enough signal to do much else.   (Mt. Roger’s is the highest mountain in the state but there aren’t any views from the top)

While the rest of the world had warmed up, it must have stayed cold on Whitetop, the trees were still coated with snow!



It was warm when we got back to the campground so we took advantage and put the bikes on the car and I did some other chores before we started dinner.  We were going to have stir fry so we gathered the veggies and started chopping.  Dad had chopped a few strips of red pepper and then chopped his thumb.   Oh no!!!!! 

He had a chopped off a small chunk of meat that was hanging on by a thread.  We quickly decided that we needed to see a doctor about it.  We quickly made sure the coach was secure with the heat turned off and what not, I grabbed my purse, he made sure he had his insurance cards and we headed out.   We did stop to ask the camp hosts where the best place to go was.  One of the camp hosts suggested Dad just “put a band-aid on it.”  The “in charge” gal didn’t seem to have a clue where to go.  I’d seen a hospital in Marion and I knew exactly how to get to it so she thought we should go there.  We also needed the gate code to get back in (they lock the gate after 10 pm).  She couldn’t find the lock to double check the combo so said she’d just “pretend” to lock it so we could get back in. 

So we headed off down the road back to Marion to the hospital.  It only took 30 minutes to get there and Dad was seen almost immediately.  It was probably the fastest ER visit in history!  Under two hours from arrival to departure! And they had free wifi! The doctor originally wanted to put a stitch or two in it but when she came in to do it we asked more questions about glue and other options and she said that we could “steri-strip” it, which is basically a band-aid.  That seemed like a much better option so Dad went for it and we were on our way. 

It was now almost 8:30 and neither of us had eaten since our post-hike snacks around 3pm.  This is very ironic because when Dad and I hike we carry tons of snacks and stuff, however when we ran out the door at the beginning of dinner prep, neither of us grabbed food.  The options in Marion, VA were limited, but we saw a Mexican place, El Puerto (it’s kinda the only non-fast food chain in Marion) that looked good.  We ran to Walgreens to put the RX for antibiotics the Dr had given Dad and then Dad dropped me off at the restaurant to get a table and order something while he went back to get the meds.

While I was in the restaurant I struck up a conversation with the folks at the table next to us – they had come in at the same time as us.  They were really nice!  When Dad came in, the gal said “Are you the ones with the kayak?”   Yes, yes we were!  We chatted with them about camping and Dad’s thumb and stuff.  They told us about how the Methodist Church in Sugar Grove is hiker friendly! 

Then as we were leaving the restaurant a guy came up behind us, tapped me on the shoulder and said “Small world!'”.   It was the Marine we’d met at Grayson Highlands!

Having stirred up enough trouble in Marion we headed back over the mountain to the campground, arriving back just before the 10 pm curfew.  We both went right to our RVs and crawled into bed! 

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