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Dirk's Rambles

Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 6:45 pm

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I woke up at 5:30 am (May 3rd) to the clopping of ponies' hooves. Very shortly after that I was able to make out in the dark a pony approaching the shelter. I announced to the shelter the ponies were there. Immediately , four people jumped to their feet with their cell phones to take pictures.

Eventually, six ponies showed up in short order. One was a colt not more than a couple of weeks old. Everyone was excited to see them. Selfies and other types of pictures were being taken. One of the ponies was licking a girl's leg to get the salt. The ponies were also licking the trekking poles for the salt left there.

Eventually, these ponies left. Within 15 minutes, another colt, probably a couple of months old, showed up. It began whinnying, obviously separated from it's mother. Shortly afterward, his mother with another pony came by and swept him away.

When I eventually got on the trail I counted 23 ponies including the ones I saw at the shelter. The shelter sits in the Lewis Fork Wilderness. Very soon I came to the boundary of the Grayson Highlands State Park, which was where I saw most of the ponies. For the first 7 miles from the shelter, I saw ponies regularly.

The ponies were first brought to this area in the 1960's by the Commonwealth of Virginia to help eat invasive species of plants that were beginning to take over Grayson Highlands. The ponies are hardy enough to survive the harsh winters. This experiment has been a success. Yearly, some ponies are removed and homes found for them, so the area doesn't become over-populated.

The trails in this part of Virginia are very rocky and difficult to traverse. You have to continually watch every step. It also slows down the size of area you can cover.

There was another trail magic yesterday, May 3rd. A veteran named John, who fought in Cambodia during the Vietnam War, was making burgers on toasted buns along the side of VA 603. All of us enjoyed it. Fire Goddess met her shuttle to the hotel there.

I stayed at Hurricane Shelter with eventually the same crew- Calves, Andy Dufrey, Savage, Man Scout, and Hurricane.

Woke up the next morning (May 4) after a long night of off and on thundershowers. Rained for most of the night. However it was not raining when we woke. We had jammed 9 people into and 8 person shelter. After filtering water, up the trail I went.

It was an easier walk today with less rocks. However it started clouding up, the air got cool, and thunder was pounding in the distance, getting closer with each discharge.

I was to meet Calves at Trimpi Shelter nine miles from our last shelter so I was racing against the weather to get there before the clouds burst. I made it just in time. It rained for about an hour. During that time, Calves and I decided to just stay in this shelter then leave early tomorrow for the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Association Center for our shuttle tomorrow.

This shelter is small but beautiful. Holds six, has a fireplace, and is made of stone.
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