Hit up the Grayson Highlands last weekend. The plans were to do a real flexible loop, but in the spirit of flexibility we had a super lazy hike. Jason and I parked at Massie Gap and hiked up the Rhododendron Trail to the AT. Headed south on the AT (felt so wrong and dirty) and got water at Thomas Knob and set up camp near there. Dude and Eileen came in from VA Beach and got a super late start and rolled in around 3am and missed our campsite. We woke them up at the shelter the next morning around 10am. We decided not to do a loop and just headed north on the AT slowly with plenty of stops after a side trip up Mount Rogers (since Dude and I both skipped it on our thru hike). The next day we doubled back up the AT and took the AT Spur back to our vehicles for the drive home. All in all a nice relaxing time outside with friends.
Once we hit the trail head on the Rhododendron Trail we spotted the first of the ponies. Assuming we'd see much more later (just didn't know how much later) we didn't stop for long. Went almost all weekend without seeing any. Just hearing them around our campsite the first night and walking through their piles of excrement.
Jason spying our provisions of Dickel.
My note I left for Dude knowing he'd be passing by it after dark and most likely miss it.
We grabbed a great spot in an open field near the next shelter north (I can't remember the name and I'm not looking it up) on Saturday. We ended up having the most intense lightning storm I've ever experienced that night. The rain was so heavy the field was flooded until it stopped raining. I had a good half an inch of water under my tarp, but my pack was in a garbage bag and my bivy kept me dry as a bone.
We finally ran into the ponies when we were almost back to the parking lot Sunday morning. I was worried Dude was bad luck because he never saw them on his thru.
All in all I needed the trip after working as much as I have been. The original plan was cut short a day and we definitely took the lazy route, but hey real hikers are lazy.