All 2016 Reports

Grayson Highlands with Kaylee

16-19 June 2016

- Kaylee MacLuskie, Dave MacLuskie

Kaylee's Report

It was a super fun trip! The first day we camped at Grindstone campground. As we got in the tent I started to see lightning. Dad thought it was just car lights but he too soonishly got concerned that it was lightning. It started to pour buckets and the thunder was starting so we slept in the car. When it died down Dad and I moved back to the tent but the lightning started up again so we got our sleeping bags and headed back to the car to stay. I slept on the back seat and thought it was fun. It was slightly far from comfortable.

The second day was misty/foggy and very, very wet. The climb up to Mount Rogers was rocky (of course the rocks were wet) and muddy in some parts. We got to the intersection [of the Appalachian Trail] and went up to the top of Mount Rogers. The climb wasn’t too bad and the top was rocky and had really cool trees. We got to the Thomas Knob shelter which was surrounded by a low cloud, had some food and went to find a spot to stay for the night.

The third day was nice but the morning was cold. This is how I made the observation: I woke up, sat up, stretched, and instantly shrunk back to the sleeping bag because it was so cold. The trail mostly bounced along and I got to a) take picture of really cute ponies, b) got to pet a pony (it was blonde), and c) got picture of cows! It was really cool. Dad got to pet a pony too. We got to the Wise shelter, took a break, then headed to the Old Orchard Shelter. A little way beyond that was a beautiful campsite we stayed at. It had lush green grass, skinny trees, and a nice big rock for sitting on and playing Yahtzee. In the tent we slept even though it was still light out. It was 8:30pm and we were tired.

The fourth day we woke up, packed up, and left. No breakfast (we ate when we got to the car), we just high-tailed it out of there. The first two trails were both in the shade, flat, and wet. The third was sunny but felt and the fourth was bouncy. We got to the car around 10am. It was a super fun trip.

Daves's Report

Kaylee and I spent Father’s Day weekend in Grayson Highlands, Virginia. Located in the southwest corner of Virginia (a 6 hour drive from Yorktown), Grayson contains Mount Rogers, the highest peak in Virginia at 5729 ft. Fun fact: Mount Rogers is named after a William & Mary graduate and professor who went on to found MIT. We drove down Thursday afternoon and camped at Grindstone State Park. A rather brutal thunder storm blew through around 10pm and we retreated the car as the wind whipped the tent about and rained branches down from the trees. Fortunately things cleared up well before morning.

Most of Friday consisted of climbing up to Mount Rogers. The peak itself is shrouded in a very way, pacific-northwesty feel with a fairly unique Spruce and Fraser Fir forest. We camped Friday night about a mile beyond the peak at 5500 feet in a cluster of fir trees and spent most of the night in a cloud.

On Saturday we hiked the Appalachian Trail through the highlands proper and saw the famous wild ponies, the long horn cattle, and the amazing views. It reminded us a lot of Montana and is apparently reminiscent of parts of Scotland too.

We spent Saturday night near the Old Orchard shelter and soaked in the atmosphere. On Sunday morning we hiked out the remaining 4 miles and drove home. I wish we lived closer. There’s are many trails in the area and lot of unique terrain to see.

Climbing the Mount Rogers Trail from the Grindstone campground.

Heading to the Mount Rogers peak (with Pacific NW vibes)

One of two survey markers (from 1933) at the highest point in the state of Virginia

Rejoining the AT after visiting Mount Rogers

Along the ridge past the Thomas Knob shelter.

Along the ridge past the Thomas Knob shelter.

Camp for night 1 nestled among some stubby pines to block the wind.


Among the Highlands (Scotland vibe)

One of many anti-pony gates

My new phone background image

The view near Rhododendron Gap.

1980's Glamour Pony

Dave greets a curious pony


Kaylee before one of the rock chasms

Kaylee in one of the rock chasms

Dave in one of the rock chasms


Ponies along Wilburn Ridge

Ponies along Wilburn Ridge

Ponies along Wilburn Ridge

More anti-pony gates near the Wise Shelter

Camp for night 2 near Pine Mountain Shelter

Dave at camp

dave.macluskie AT