Grayson Highlands 2014–Day 7 (Pinnacles, Blueberries, Mountain Repeats)

Another cool day, a few more clouds, but no more rain and less windy than before.  For the morning we decided to drive up to the Visitor Center and hike the self-interpretive trail to the Pinnacles.  This would be our last full day at GHSP.

Mid 50s to greet us in the morning!  What a change from 90+ degrees at home.

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Rocket dog ready to hike.

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Beautiful flowers at the Visitor Center:

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And hummingbird feeders that are super popular.

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Photos as we start our way up to Little Pinnacle:

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Don’t miss this tree and rock in an embrace.  I still don’t know how this occurs.

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Can you find the dog?

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The landscape here is a stark contrast to hiking at home – the dirt is brown, not red clay – and there are boulders everywhere.  These were covered in lichen.

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Almost to the view:

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What kind of flowers are these?

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The views from Little Pinnacle:

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The Highlands Horse Trail in the distance:

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Soon we discovered the vast amount of blueberries up here and our hiking turned into foraging.  Why not?  More often than not we miss out on a good wild blueberry harvest and this year was delivering.

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Rocket ready to go back, as we all hiked down for a very late lunch.

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With the sun still out I found time in the afternoon for one more road bike ride.  This time I decided to stay in the park and repeat the climb from the entrance to the Visitor Center, and add in a visit to the picnic area.  I wasn’t entirely comfortable with riding US 58 again, especially with my (mountain bike) mechanical issues a few days before.  At least in the park if something happened, there should be someone around to help.  I also thought the climbs in the park were tougher than on US 58 so why not stay where all the views are and get a good workout.

First from the campground down to the entrance:

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I never grow tired of the lush grass up here…

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Climbing back up on one of the worst grades in the park.  This is right after the picnic area, and it’s not only this hill but what comes after it – you think the worst is over, and it mostly is over, but it’s not flat afterwards – just more climbing!

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At the top.  67 degrees in the sun!

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Views from the overlook platform again.

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A close-up of VA 362 (park road) and US 58 side by side (left / right).

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Nearby is a kiosk showing the Nat Geo map of the Mt Rogers National Recreation Area.

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At the entrance again.  I climbed from the entrance to the top twice.

An antique John Deere implement on display.

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Partially up the park road, you can see the log home in the distance that you can also see from the overlook at the top.

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VA parks voted among the nation’s best.  I have to agree.  SC has a long way to go to get this award.

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These flowers popped up out of nowhere one afternoon – I wonder what they are.

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As I passed the picnic area entrance I was really feeling the climbs – I wanted just to head back to the campground, but I also wanted to get some photos of the picnic area.  So for some reason I turned right down the hill to the picnic area … knowing I’d have to climb back out of it!

The picnic area is quite the spot.  Playground for the kids, history display, restrooms, tables here and there, and a facility for concerts with a wife open field.

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I’m told this is the place to go in the evening to see deer.

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Not a flat spot in the whole area!  This might be the least steep…

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On the way out I had to make the climb up to the main park road and it was quite the effort, after having climbed from the entrance to the top twice.  This made me wish I had a bailout gear on my cassette – but that would mean an 11-32 9-speed and I don’t know if the gaps would be worth it.  At least on this part it would have!

Eventually you exit from the trees into a clearing, just before reaching the park road.  More amazing views.

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Looking south towards Tucker Rd again:

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Finally back to the park road – one more climb and back to the campground!

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Strava link for this last ride in GHSP.

We still had lots of firewood – so with it being our last night here, why not burn it all?  (Oops, you didn’t say burn it all at once?)

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