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View Full Version : Tips needed for a friendly hike with Significant other - Grayson Highlands



Gambit McCrae
04-24-2018, 11:42
Well Gambit has found his Mrs. Gambit and she is fully supportive of my hiking lifestyle and has no ambitions of becoming an AT backpacker and that is OK with Mr. Gambit. :)
However, she does want to see the ponies in Grayson, as well, she wants to go on a backpacking trip so she can relate to what my weekend lifestyle is all about.


I don't want to go into my regular ol' "Drone Mode" and wear her out with a death march, but I want her to see what there is to see in Grayson.
My plan is to drive to Elk Garden Friday night and do some night hiking up to Brier Ridge so that climb is half over sat morning, and to get a great sunrise opportunity.
Spend Saturday wondering around the park making our way to Massie gap and that's where I get a little stuck on what would be "too much" walking.

Friday night - Brier Ridge
Saturday - Walk around and end up back at the Thomas Knob shelter for tenting on the ridge
Sunday - Short day back to the car

She has an athletic build but not a hiker.

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FrogLevel
04-24-2018, 12:01
That sounds like a pretty good plan.

You could also set up base camp at the Scales and branch out from there and avoid the big climbs. There's a privy there so that's a bonus.

TexasBob
04-24-2018, 13:27
.......I don't want to go into my regular ol' "Drone Mode" and wear her out with a death march...........My plan is to drive to Elk Garden Friday night and do some night hiking up to Brier Ridge ..............I get a little stuck on what would be "too much" walking. She has an athletic build but not a hiker. .......

If she is not a hiker are you sure she is up for the night hiking? It might fall into the category of "death march" for her. I know it would for my wife and she likes to hike. Has she been out hiking with you before? Is she carrying her own gear? Sometimes less is more on your first trip. My advice is give her a taste of what backpacking is and be gentle then maybe she will want to do more in the future. You are lucky, my wife would rather be boiled in oil than go backpacking. You are in this for long haul if she is your Mrs. Gambit, don't blow it right out of the gate. :)

Gambit McCrae
04-24-2018, 13:34
If she is not a hiker are you sure she is up for the night hiking? It might fall into the category of "death march" for her. I know it would for my wife and she likes to hike. If not we can camp on that first knoll northbound from elk garden, its about a 200 yard walk

Has she been out hiking with you before? Nope

Is she carrying her own gear? Yep, clothes, sleep system, food, toiletries. I will carry all the rest, tent, cookset, filter etc

Sometimes less is more on your first trip. I have two UL setups so pack weight will be minimal.

My advice is give her a taste of what backpacking is and be gentle then maybe she will want to do more in the future.
You are lucky, my wife would rather be boiled in oil than go backpacking. You are in this for long haul if she is your Mrs. Gambit, don't blow it right out of the gate. :)

TexasBob
04-24-2018, 13:37
Sometimes less is more on your first trip. I have two UL setups so pack weight will be minimal. ..........

I meant mileage and required effort.

HooKooDooKu
04-24-2018, 13:56
Sometimes less is more on your first trip. I have two UL setups so pack weight will be minimal.
I too was thinking you might want to start with a few shorter trips... something where you're only hiking about 5 to 8 miles per day.
It looks like you're less than 3 hours from GSMNP... and as weather starts to warm up, there's several hikes you can do out there were you spend much of your time at the higher elevations where things are a bit cooler.

MuddyWaters
04-24-2018, 14:05
Tips needed for a friendly hike with Significant other - Grayson Highlands


Carry most of her stuff
Do whatever she suggests
Make it easy and fun for her

Let her blame you for everything, from the weather to the color of the trees. Dont argue.

And get used to it:sun

Seatbelt
04-24-2018, 14:10
Gambit, make sure she has comfortable footwear. I kinda ruined my wife's ambition to backpack by overlooking this.

TexasBob
04-24-2018, 14:12
Tips needed for a friendly hike with Significant other - Grayson Highlands


Carry most of her stuff
Do whatever she suggests
Make it easy and fun for her

Let her blame you for everything, from the weather to the color of the trees. Dont argue.

And get used to it:sun

Exactly this.

Gambit McCrae
04-24-2018, 14:27
As mentioned in OP, she has no intention of becoming a backpacker. I don't want her to be a backpacker. She has 2 wishes
1-- See the ponies
2-- Be able to better relate to my hiking life when I am gone on trips

The trip is also 100% variable on weather. If the forecast looks like a chance for doom and gloom we will reschedule.

TNhiker
04-24-2018, 14:31
You could also set up base camp at the Scales and branch out from there and avoid the big climbs.




thats kinda what i was thinking.....

and theres a nice campsite thats on the trail (I forget name and dont have map in front of me) that branches off the AT and goes over towards thomas knob...

the only thing i can think of is that seeing a pony is not guaranteed...

but would have better chances over at massie gap...

illabelle
04-24-2018, 14:54
Congratulations, Gambit! Best wishes to you and the Mrs.

Echoing others,
Keep her feet happy.
Not too many miles.
Bring some luxuries, like a cushy seat, or an unexpected desert.
If she's not outdoorsy, understand that she may be averse to the dirtiness and primitive life of backpacking. Squatting over a hole? No shower? Where's the sink?
If she is outdoorsy, be careful about taking her to see the ponies. She might develop a sudden desire to do more backpacking. That could upend your Carefully Planned Section Hiking Schedule. ;)

Gambit McCrae
04-24-2018, 15:00
Congratulations, Gambit! Best wishes to you and the Mrs.

Echoing others,
Keep her feet happy.
Not too many miles.
Bring some luxuries, like a cushy seat, or an unexpected desert.
If she's not outdoorsy, understand that she may be averse to the dirtiness and primitive life of backpacking. Squatting over a hole? No shower? Where's the sink?
If she is outdoorsy, be careful about taking her to see the ponies. She might develop a sudden desire to do more backpacking. That could upend your Carefully Planned Section Hiking Schedule. ;)

haha Thanks Illabelle :) Yes she is very outdoorsy and enjoys car camping greatly, I think it may be more of a "fearing the unknown" kinda thing as well as we both communicate very well together and she knows backpacking is "my thing" where we both agree we need time away from each other, hiking the AT allows me an avenue to do that. I am very excited for her to come experience it though :)

D2maine
04-24-2018, 16:38
noobs to backpacking usually have no concept of time/distance go easy - even a short easy distance for you may seem long and hard to her...

Shutterbug
04-24-2018, 16:54
Well Gambit has found his Mrs. Gambit and she is fully supportive of my hiking lifestyle and has no ambitions of becoming an AT backpacker and that is OK with Mr. Gambit. :)
However, she does want to see the ponies in Grayson, as well, she wants to go on a backpacking trip so she can relate to what my weekend lifestyle is all about.


I don't want to go into my regular ol' "Drone Mode" and wear her out with a death march, but I want her to see what there is to see in Grayson.
My plan is to drive to Elk Garden Friday night and do some night hiking up to Brier Ridge so that climb is half over sat morning, and to get a great sunrise opportunity.
Spend Saturday wondering around the park making our way to Massie gap and that's where I get a little stuck on what would be "too much" walking.

Friday night - Brier Ridge
Saturday - Walk around and end up back at the Thomas Knob shelter for tenting on the ridge
Sunday - Short day back to the car

She has an athletic build but not a hiker.

42560

Be aware of the risk you are taking!!! My wife and I married at age 22. She refused to hike with me until she was 62.

When she was 62, I talked her into car camping with me just so she would experience sleeping in a tent. She loved it and decided to go on my next hike. Since then she insists on going on almost all of my hikes. She has hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with me 35 times!!! She climbed Pikes Peak and Mt. St. Helens with me. She has hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with me twice. Last year we did the Coast to Coast Trail in England. Just be aware, you may never get to hike alone again.

Shutterbug
04-24-2018, 17:14
Assuming you are ok with the risk that she will be hiking with you the rest of your life, this is my advice:

1. Make sure she had comfortable shoes or boots.
2. Convince her to use hiking poles -- she will resist but thank you later.
3. Insist that she carry her own things -- anything you wouldn't have along if she wasn't with you. It is the only way she will learn not to take extra stuff.
4. Take a lot of pictures. The memories are the best part of a husband/wife hike.

TexasBob
04-24-2018, 18:16
We definitely need a trip report afterwards.

BuckeyeBill
04-24-2018, 19:31
Gambit you need to keep this young lady around, by any means necessary. I mean a wife that allows you to take off when you want is special.

LittleTim
04-24-2018, 19:40
Assuming you are ok with the risk that she will be hiking with you the rest of your life, this is my advice:

1. Make sure she had comfortable shoes or boots.
2. Convince her to use hiking poles -- she will resist but thank you later.
3. Insist that she carry her own things -- anything you wouldn't have along if she wasn't with you. It is the only way she will learn not to take extra stuff.
4. Take a lot of pictures. The memories are the best part of a husband/wife hike.

I'd add to #1: ...and the best sleep system feasible. It's the two things that would ruin an otherwise perfect hike for a newbie.

Like many others, my better half loves hiking, just never overnighting it or carrying your home on your back.

Burrhead
04-24-2018, 20:10
Sounds like a good plan. I made the mistake of starting my girlfriend out easy...now she's on every trip. :D

TNhiker
04-24-2018, 20:24
We definitely need a trip report afterwards.


"but ya yadda yadda-ed over the best part"

Shooting Star
04-24-2018, 21:23
Sounds like you have a workable plan and lots of good suggestions. If you decide to hike less,
consider parking at Massie Gap, backpack to Thomas Knob and get camp water. Then back-track
to the meadow you passed just before getting to the shelter. Lot of good camping area here.
Sometimes some of the ponies shelter here overnight. No big climbs on this section and lots of
trail through the rocky spots and some loop possibilities without putting in big miles. Have a good trip!

PennyPincher
04-25-2018, 09:17
You cook the food for both of you. Make sure she drinks enough water.

Gambit McCrae
04-25-2018, 09:46
Lots of good ideas here. We discussed plans last night and so far we are firing on all cylinders! lol

-Night Hiking - She was pretty excited to do this right out of the gate and I know that the trail from Elk Garden to Brier ridge has several tenting sites along the way, if it becomes too much we can always stop short.

-Her Pack- I am going to set her up with my zpacks arc blast. We will be using comfy Exped sleeping pads and Montbell sleeping bags with some sea to summit pillows so all comfy there. She will carry her things, I will carry mine and shared items

-Shoes- I told her a comfortable pair of running shoes would be sufficient for the amount of walking we will be doing matched with a pair of PhD Smartwool socks

-Tent - I will be pulling out the Tarptent Cloudburst 3 for this hike. I want a roomy tent experience for her that can provide a great view from within.

Overall she is very excited for the experience and the ponies but stress level is medium due to the unknowns. Now we wait for the weather report to become more accurate

Siestita
04-25-2018, 16:16
"My plan is to drive to Elk Garden Friday night and do some night hiking up to Brier Ridge so that climb is half over sat morning, and to get a great sunrise opportunity."

I infer that your Friday night priorities will be (1) finding a place, other than an established vehicle campground, to camp after driving into the area after dark; and (2) being up on a scenic ridge at dawn to get that "sunrise opportunity".

Another way that could be accomplished would be for you to simply drive up White Top on the gravel road there. After crossing the AT near the excellent spring, that road continues all the way up White Top, dead ending amid view blocking trees in front of a communications installation. Potential campsites wth good views abound on White Top. After having a scenic breakfast on Saturday morning you could drive down the mountain and continue to the State Park. You could then backpack up to Rhododendron Gap, or to Thomas Knob, or to one of the many potential campsites located between those two spots. Water is available both at Thomas Knob and also about 250 yards south of Rhododendron Gap, across an open field. You would probably see ponies on both Saturday, hiking up Wilburn Ridge, and also on Sunday, descending to your car at the Massie Gap backpacker parking lot.

Gambit McCrae
04-26-2018, 08:23
"My plan is to drive to Elk Garden Friday night and do some night hiking up to Brier Ridge so that climb is half over sat morning, and to get a great sunrise opportunity."

I infer that your Friday night priorities will be (1) finding a place, other than an established vehicle campground, to camp after driving into the area after dark; and (2) being up on a scenic ridge at dawn to get that "sunrise opportunity".

Another way that could be accomplished would be for you to simply drive up White Top on the gravel road there. After crossing the AT near the excellent spring, that road continues all the way up White Top, dead ending amid view blocking trees in front of a communications installation. Potential campsites wth good views abound on White Top. After having a scenic breakfast on Saturday morning you could drive down the mountain and continue to the State Park. You could then backpack up to Rhododendron Gap, or to Thomas Knob, or to one of the many potential campsites located between those two spots. Water is available both at Thomas Knob and also about 250 yards south of Rhododendron Gap, across an open field. You would probably see ponies on both Saturday, hiking up Wilburn Ridge, and also on Sunday, descending to your car at the Massie Gap backpacker parking lot.


I've been up and over white top, I don't camp around road access- Just one of my safety rules along the trail. I have however done the walk up from Elk Garden to Brier ridge on 5 occasions in the dark and it is a pretty straight forward 3 mile walk to there along the AT. I know that by doing this in the cool of the night will be much more enjoyable then first thing in the morning. As well it will take 3 miles off of Saturday, give us a water source at camp as well as ponies Saturday morning with the sunrise.

To previous comment -I have always seen ponies at Grayson.

bigcranky
04-26-2018, 11:00
I'd park at Grayson Highlands State Park and start there. Hike up to the AT, head left (sobo) up Wilburn Ridge. Right after you cross the fence into the USFS area, take the Rhododendron Gap horse trail to the right (NOT the VA Highlands Horse Trail that you cross at the fence. Repeat, NOT that one.) There are campsites immediately on your left, or walk out through the woods to the first really open area and look to the right. It's bumpy but there are places to tent. This is our usual tent spot when we drive up after work on Fridays -- and we've never seen anyone else here.

The major advantage is the ponies. There are generally more of them in the state park and this area of Wilburn Ridge. You'll likely have them all around you in camp that night and the next morning.

The next day you have many choices for continuing. You can do the loop hike with the Pine Mountain Trail over to the AT and come back around to your car that way. Plenty of camping options (I like the broad open summit of Stone Mountain.) If that's too far, then you could go climb the summit of Mt Rogers, then backtrack and spend the second night along the AT between Thomas Knob and Rhodo Gap. TONS of campsites here (and usually tons of people on weekends, too.)

Have a great hike. Hoping your SO decides she loves it as much as mine does :)

Gambit McCrae
06-03-2019, 11:13
Well this past weekend was finally our time to go to the Highlands together. We have planned and rescheduled 2-3 weekends to wait for the perfect weather and we finally got about as close as your gunna get to perfect. She had a blast. Ended up doing 13 miles for the weekend and other than a sunburn and a tiny blister she did fantastic and loved her experience. Woke up to ponies on Briers ridge Saturday morning and after a day of walking around we ended back up at Briers ridge for a second night.

Highpoints-
Water was dry up from elk garden to briers ridge - 2 springs running between briers ridge and thomas knob.
the rodos are in full peak bloom in grayson right now from Rodo Gap all the way thru pine mountian crest trail

Pictures will come when I have time today

illabelle
06-03-2019, 12:06
Yay! Glad she enjoyed her trip. If the weather cooperates, I'm hoping to take the family to Carver's Gap this coming weekend. I've promised them they'll be astounded.

Gambit McCrae
06-03-2019, 12:13
Yay! Glad she enjoyed her trip. If the weather cooperates, I'm hoping to take the family to Carver's Gap this coming weekend. I've promised them they'll be astounded.

Peak rodos is slated for wednesday. My trip isnt until NEXT weekend. Another year missed on rodos peak. I have only ever hit it 1 trip of peak out of 8-9 trips

bigcranky
06-03-2019, 12:29
Awesome, glad she enjoyed it. Yay ponies :)

Dogwood
06-03-2019, 21:40
Alert. My baby sis is missing. She's fond of ponies. Anyone aware of her whereabouts PM me.

Gambit McCrae
06-05-2019, 09:37
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JPritch
06-05-2019, 10:10
Great pics!

martinb
06-06-2019, 18:11
Sunsets in the highlands are otherworldly. Glad you both enjoyed it.