Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Beautiful Smith River in Southern Virginia

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Never too Cold

December 13, 2008

Yea, its cold outside, but that’s no reason to hibernate. I can’t stand it, I have to get outside on a beautiful day with crisp, clear skies.

Not every weekend has to be adventure filled, sometimes its nice just to relax, but I can only sit still for so long. Saturday morning found us sleeping late, pigging out on a big breakfast, putting up the Christmas tree, cleaning the house and catching up on email… Now what ? Sitting at the computer, staring out the window at the morning doves and chicakdess stocking up on millet seed scattered across the backyard deck, cabin fever was starting to set in. Even the dogs were getting lethargic, but I knew they too needed to get out and play.

Perfect excuse ! We got to take the dogs for a walk. Dogs need a walk everyday…and people do too. We are lucky to live within 10 miles of the Gravely Nature Preserve and it is still one of our all time favorite local hikes. We throw on some warm layers, load up the dogs, and head for the woods. Stopping by to pick up our nephew and his dog now we had an outing, 3 dogs and 3 hikers.

We arrived at Gravely, leashed up the dogs and headed for the trail. Another hiker and dog were spotted heading out of the woods and back to the parking area. Gravely is always a pleasure to hike with its easy trails through hardwood forest, river views from the ridge and a variety of flora, each season brings a different experience. Our favorite trail in the Rhododendron trail as it winds down the spur heading toward the river. Curving around the toe of the ridge the river comes into view and beckons you down in to the rich bottom land, the path leading to the canopy-covered section of its namesake tree as it winds along the banks of the Smith.

The rain from the past few days had swelled the river to a perfect level for boating and we spotted Rich Elliot and Amy in kayaks, stopping briefly to say hello. As they paddled out of sight, I was a bit envious of them and wished I too had taken to the river that day, but I’m sure the dogs were happy that we had made the decision to hike instead.

After taking the Burgess loop trail, we spent some time visiting the graveyard on the top of the ridge. This is really a neat place to hang out for a while and think back on what it must have been like here back in the 1800's. Thankfully, we now have this piece of history preserved for future generations to have their own historical and natural experience.
We took a slow round trip down the trails and returned to the parking area, loaded up the dogs and headed out. I took the back way home so we could go across Mitchell Bridge and perhaps catch a glimpse of the kayakers coming down. With two other vehicles already at the pull-off, I squeezed in front of the line and thought about how nice it was going to be when we finally got a much needed access point opened here. Jenn is currently working on the design and funding and it can’t come soon enough.
Boaters are out there all seasons enjoying the river and if it was this crowed on a cold winter day, just think of the use when warmer weather arrives. I headed out on the bridge to take a look upstream. There were boats coming down the last rapid before the bridge. It was a kayak and a canoe, definitely not Rich and Amy who we had seen earlier in the day in kayaks. I waited as they got close to the bridge then hollered out a greeting. It was none other than our buddy J.B. Frith in the lead kayak. Bringing up the rear in the canoe was local river rat Grant Price who has moved away but had returned for the weekend and taken the opportunity t0 introduce his girlfriend to this beautiful section of the Smith.
It was getting dark as we dragged the boats up the hill to the truck and I was already thinking about a warm fire and a nice cup of hot chocolate. Driving back by Gravely we saw another family,with dog, just getting off the trail.
So when you think its too cold to get outside…remember…its not. Just in the short time we were out that day we saw 5 boaters and 5 other hikers.
So get off the couch, if they can do it, so can you !

Hey JB...get some shoes on ! Kids these days ......