Earlier this year, I set a goal of hiking 10 new places this year, to celebrate being a 10 year cancer survivor. By new, it could be a place I had never been, or at the least not been for 10 years. Each hike had to be a minimum of four miles long, and could not be an urban walk. Last week, I accomplished that goal. Here is a summary of my 10 new hikes for 2012. Unless I mention a prior visit, I had never been on the hike before.
Bear Church Rock (June) - A nice out and back hike in Shenandoah National Park, the reward was great views from the rock itself, plus I did see two young bears, the first I have seen in several years of hiking in black bear country.
Saint Mary's Falls (June) - This was like visiting an old friend. I'd been to these lovely falls twice before in the 1990's, once in a steady cold rain where the group of us huddled under a ledge to eat lunch. This was a steep out and back in Saint Mary's Wilderness in the George Washington National Forest.
Sky Meadows State Park (July) - I had wanted to hike in this beautiful park for a long times, and finally did with a Meet-Up group. It is in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Shenandoah River, and was a great day.
James River State Park (July) - Another place I'd wanted to see for some time, my loop hike here was a lot of fun with views of the river, forests, and open areas.
Leelanau State Park (August) - On the northern tip of Michigan's Lower Peninsula is Leelanau State Park. I enjoyed my quiet solo walk in the northern hardwoods for the Wolverine State, with a view of Cathead Bay on Lake Michigan as a bonus.
Robertson Mountain (September) - The two times I had been up Old Rag, I had noticed the trail up this mountain and wondered what it would be like. Then answer - steep, scenic, and fun. This was a loop in Shenandoah National Park, and at one point, I gained 1,700 feet in 1.5 miles, so bring your lungs.
The High Country of Virginia and Mount Rogers (October) - On the first day of my four day backpacking trip, I covered the very scenic and open high country of Southwest Virginia, and hiked to the top of our highest peak. It was my third time up Mount Rogers and I had hiked some of the rest of this route before, but not for nearly 20 years. What can you say - spruce-fir forest in Virginia? And wild ponies as a bonus!
Lewis Fork Wilderness and Little Wilson Creek Wilderness (October) - I am counting the second and third days of my pack trip last month as one long hike for the purposes of meeting my goal. The wonderful autumn forests and open mountain views made this hike a joy, and as a bonus, we had a tremendous camp site the second night of this part of the hike, and I heard a barred owl call.
Rocky Mount (October) - Back in Shenandoah National Park, this hike was almost 100% uphill or downhill, and a real aerobic workout. The bonus was the incredible views from the summit of Rocky Mount. Just amazing, with the fall foliage at peak!
Petersburg National Battlefield (November) - This circuit hike combined a lot of forest views with some open fields, and a lot of history, as this was the siege where Grant faced Lee for nine months, eventually wearing down Lee's army and winning the Civil War. At many points along the hike, one can see old trench works and salients, along with some monuments to the brave men who fought here. I'd been here before but not in the last 10 years, and never on this particular walk.
I enjoyed setting a hiking goal for myself this year, am grateful to have lived these last ten years, and am already thinking about a goal for 2013.
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