Appalachian Trail Dreams

images-2

Call me crazy, but I have Appalachian Trail Dreams… dreams about climbing part or all of The AT …starting in Georgia and plowing through the states one-by-one, all the way to Mount Katahdin in Maine. My friend from high school, Del Wynne recently posted an AT contest where her friend, who is like a niece to her, Gina was one of the final 12 finalists out of 74 entries. When I clicked on to watch Gina’s video, and to cast a vote for her, I took a few minutes to view the other eleven applicants while I was there. I found them each one so intriguing and it has lit a small flicker on my dreams to one day hike part or all of The Appalachian Trail. Click here to view the inspiring finalists in The 2016 Badger Sponsorship Contest, and consider voting for Gina or another favorite. Voting ends at 10:00 p.m. on January 31, 2016.

images-3

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. [pullquote]The moment our memories are greater than our dreams we are dead in the water.” Dr. Ike Reighard [/pullquote]The trail is approximately 2,200 miles (3,500 km) long, though the precise length changes over time as parts are modified or rerouted. The trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The path is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in forest or wild lands, although some portions traverse towns, roads and farms. The trail conservancy claims that the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only trail in the world. The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Others have managed to perform a “round-trip” of the trail where they thru-hike from one end to the other and then turn around to thru-hike the trail the other way, otherwise known as a “yo-yo”. Many books, memoirs, web sites and fan organizations are dedicated to these pursuits. (from Wikipedia)

What are your dreams?

It is always good to

keep our dreams alive!

images-5
Hiker takes in the scene on Mt. LeConte

I may not yet have plans to climb The AT, but I am going on a short trip in early June 2016 to climb Mt. LeConte in The Great Smoky Mountains with three girlfriends. The distance to LeConte Lodge is 5.5 miles and a net climb: 2,560 feet. We will stay over at The Lodge before hiking down the following day. I was able to do some scenic hikes in August 2015 in The Rocky Mountains and blogged about it here and here.

IMG_5065
Wearing Karl’s Kure tees with high school buds in CO! Prayers for Karl & his family!

As long as we have breath,

let’s keep dreaming!

images-4

Happy Birthday Rocky Mountain National Park

Happy, Happy 100th Birthday to Rocky Mountain National Park!
IMG_5114

IMG_4843
“Tessa” and Evelyn were great guides on our first six mile hike.
IMG_4823
Jane Ellen picks us out some fresh corn at the Estes Farmer’s Market.
IMG_4825
Cindy and Ev find us some tomatoes and fresh green beans at the Estes Farmer’s Market.

As I shared in a recent post, Five Lessons From A Horse, Donny and I had the opportunity to spend four nights in the breathtaking Rocky Mountain area with friends we have shared life with for over four decades…Life doesn’t get much better than that!

It was in the Winter of 1997, when my family and I were driving in a rental car from Denver, Co., to Snowmass for a week of skiing and a conference for Donny. As we admired the snow-capped Rockies, Leah said:

“Look, the Rocky Mountains are all around us, just like God.” 

Leah Page Andrews, age nine

IMG_4836

IMG_4837

IMG_4835 IMG_4821

IMG_4828
Jan and JE at the Estes Farmer’s Market

Our friends Ev and Steve have resided in this delightful mountain village for all of their 3+ decades of marriage, raising their two children, Rob and Brooke in this quaint town of Estes Park, CO. One of our first stops was to the weekly Estes Farmer’s Market to stock up on fruits and veggies for our meals we would prepare together during our visit.

IMG_4841

Estes Park will be joining The Rocky Mountain National Park on September 4-5, 2015 in celebrating a 100th Birthday. Click here to read about the Five Top Reasons to Visit Estes Park for the Rocky Mountain National Park Centennial Celebration. The Estes Valley Community will be welcoming visitors of all ages, providing festivals, cultural attractions, world-class musical performances, downtown gardens, playgrounds, river walks, bike trails, and parks.  The Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most visited national parks, attracting more than 3 million visitors each year!

In years to come when I am asleep beneath these pines, thousands of families will find rest and hope in this park. Enos Mills (1870-1922) an American naturalist and homesteader, the main figure behind the creation of Rocky Mountain National Park

Most of you will easily recall President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression of the 1930s when millions of Americans were unemployed. This New Deal promised to create programs to put people to work. One such program was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In Rocky Mountain National Park, young male recruits at six camps built roads, trails, and buildings; put out wildfires; planted trees; and managed predators. As we rode horses on August 1, 2015, it was easy to observe the well-built construction of many of these original trails. It was during the 1930s, when labor was readily available, that the National Park Service built Trail Ridge Road. Visitors came to Rocky Mountain National Park in their cars. Unlike other western national parks like Yellowstone, Glacier, and Grand Canyon, a railroad never served Rocky.  It was always an auto park. Because of this, road building was a high priority. Although the Fall River Road traversed the Continental Divide through the park, the road was outdated and difficult to navigate. The new, professionally-designed Trail Ridge Road, at a height of 11,796 feet, undulates between forests and meadows and takes drivers to spectacular heights.

Aside from these spectacular views and the amazing opportunities for snow skiing and snow shoeing, the wildlife, the aspen trees, and the wildflowers also draw multitudes to the Rockies.

IMG_4846 IMG_4888 IMG_4844

IMG_5065
Wearing our “KARL’S KURE” t-shirts, the girls and I stop by Mills Lake to give a thumbs up for Karl, Lisa, and Amelia back in Georgia! RIP KARL WERGINZ and God Bless your precious family!
IMG_4851
Jan peeks around a massive rock on our girls’ 6 mile hike.
IMG_4852
Tessa LOVES her exercise in the Rocky Mountains!

The ptarmigan is miraculously camouflaged perfectly in summer, with “mottled rock” color, and in winter, when it takes on the color of snow.

Ptarmigan

rock ptarmigan

Another interesting creature that frequents the Rockies that Evelyn told us about is the bighorn sheep. One of the most important features of the bighorn sheep is the unique structure of its hooves. Rather than being hard like those of a horse or cow, the sheep have rubber-like hooves that allow excellent mobility on steep rock faces.

Bighorn Sheep Climbing on the Rocks. Montana Wildlife.

IMG_4882
On our way to Jewel and Mills Lake on the Glacier Gorge Trailhead…one of the most beautiful places we have ever seen!

IMG_4961 IMG_4886 IMG_4884 IMG_4876 IMG_4854

IMG_4903
The guys prepare for some fly-fishing at Jewel Lake.
IMG_4907
Jan munches on a sandwich on our huge picnic rock at Jewel Lake.
IMG_4919
Great place to hang my ENO hammock in the woods by our picnic rock overlooking Jewel Lake.
IMG_4912
David gets ready to wet the line in Jewel Lake.
IMG_4999
Cindy takes a break in The Rockies with her horse, Whisper.
IMG_4949
Sid fishes in Jewel Lake and catches a trout to grill for our dinner.

We visited The Stanley Hotel on my birthday after we rode horses through The Rockies.

IMG_5144
The front porch of The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, CO.

The Stanley in itself is an experience and famous for scenes in a Stephen King movie entitled The Shining in 1977.

IMG_4979
THANKS to Ev and Steve for another amazing visit to The Rockies!
People are made of stories, not atoms. Jarod Kintz, author of This Book is NOT FOR SALE

If you’ve never had the chance to visit the majestic and awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains, I hope you will add this to your bucket list and plan a visit soon. Thanks for stopping by and joining us on our 2015 trip to Estes Park, Colorado!

Click here to listen to John Denver sing his famous Rocky Mountain High song.