Blue Ridge Country

Photo atop Mt. Pleasant look southwest toward the Peaks by Ken Knott.

Photo atop Mt. Pleasant looking southwest toward the Peaks of Otter by Ken Knott.

Blue Ridge Country editor-in-chief Kurt Rheinheimer and his wife Gail woke up on Valentine's Day in 2004 looking to do something a little different in recognition of the occasion.

Since then, Kurt and Gail have hiked at least once every weekend for more than seven years. Of those 360-plus weekends, they have missed 14, virtually all due to occasional balkiness from Kurt's old-man knees or achilles. For the first two years (Valentine's Day 2004 through Valentine's Day 2006) they didn't miss a single week. They completed the 550 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Virginia in the summer of 2008, and have walked more than 3,500 miles total, mostly in Virginia but including hikes in West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Florida, Oregon and ... New Zealand!

Kurt & Gail Rheinheimer Featured in Channel 7 (WDBJ7.com) - October 30, 2011
Couple finds love for each other - and nature - through hiking.

Hoop Hole Havoc

Hoop Hole Havoc

What do you get when you combine four kids nine and under, four dogs, six 30-somethings, the hiking semi-geezer couple and a jump-off-the-ledge swimmin' hole?

Well, some muddy kids, some shaky, barky dogs, some wet parents (and some not), The Day Hiker trying to keep the ground covers from getting all muddy, and a lot of big splashes and then mouths formed into Os from the cold-stream water pausing there to be eight or 10 feet deep.

Such is the reward of the lower Hoop Hole loop, and to the credit of all, it was undertaken by all using the full loop, walking the nearly three miles up the mountain, across the lower ridge and then down to the swimming hole, rather than just taking the just-over-one-mile easy route.

And of course you earn your lunch and your splash much better, especially on a cool, mildly threatening day such as this one, when it took some climbing to get fully warmed up in temps at about 70.


Lower Hoop Hole Trail. 4 miles.

How to get there: U.S. 220 north from Roanoke to just past the Eagle Rock turnoff and then left onto Va. 615 for about 10 miles to Hoop Hole parking area on right.

 

Dog Days, Hiker Days

Dog Days, Hiker Days

This was supposed to be the big test for the recovering dog – her first sort of real-length hike after a 4-miler and a 5-miler for her first two times out after a nearly two-year layoff with knee and hip problems.

Turns out it was more of a test for T...

A Trail With No Other Hikers, But Other Fellow Users

A Trail With No Other Hikers, But Other Fellow Users

We hadn't visited this little-used trail for several years, and in high summer, its beginning and end sections were fairly well weeded over. And judging by twigs and branches across the wooded section of the trail, as well as rain-pushed leaf piles l...

Long Time No Dog

Long Time No Dog

The Day Hiker was a little choked up, there soon after we got well onto the trail and she let Cookie off her leash in the woods for the first time since late October, 2010 best I can tell from looking back through these dispatches--when she was refer...

Hikers, Lacking Much Experience, Leave Umbrellas in Car, Get Soaked

Hikers, Lacking Much Experience, Leave Umbrellas in Car, Get Soaked

The day's schedule had us in Rural Retreat for the morning and early afternoon--at Rural Retreat Heritage Days, where we had a little canopy to sit under, next to copies of "Finding Grace," which didn't sell quite as well as, say, lemonade, funnel ca...

How to Have Tinker Cliffs to Yourselves

How to Have Tinker Cliffs to Yourselves

How to have the popular-destination overlook all to yourselves on a summer weekend day?

1. Pick a pretty hot day.

2. And a cloudy one with a better-than-50-percent chance of showers.

3. Take the umbrellas to try to jinx away the showers.

4. About a third...

This is a Hike?!

This is a Hike?!

Well, there was the rehearsal dinner for David and Emily's wedding on Friday night in Raleigh, see, and then all kinds of prep stuff all day Saturday for the wedding itself that afternoon, and then the brunch on Sunday morning and the drive home, so ...

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