Started the day off crossing the James River at the lowest part of the Parkway and headed up to the highest point on the Parkway in Virginia. This meant a long slow climb but it ended up being not so bad, well….. at least not so bad until we ran out of food. We had stopped several times on the climb to eat but at about 5 miles from our next food stop we ran out of food. This meant sugar low struggle to get to the Peaks of Otter lodge, which had a great restaurant and deli. When we arrived we attacked the deli first and then took a table at the restaurant. We spent too much and at too much but it felt good and tasted good.
After eating too much and a little rest we headed for Roanoke, which was mostly down hill. We arrived late in the day and there was a ton of traffic so instead of searching for a great campsite we just settled for camping off the road back in the woods. Other than some strange noises and a not very flat camping area the night was good.
As usual, you can check out a map of our route for the day and other information here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161670151
The day started great in the Big Meadows campground. Not only is it a nice campground with showers and laundry it also has the Big Meadows lodge which has a great breakfast.
The ride for the day was pretty easy since the day before we did all the climbing and this day we mostly went down hill. A link to maps and more information about the climbs etc.. is here: http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161649707
At the end of the day we stayed in an ok hotel called the Colonial House just off the parkway on the way into Waynesboro. At the hotel we met 2 women from the Northeast who were finishing up there ride across the US. They had started in Northwest been all across the US in more states than I can count and were few days from finishing up. They made our little ride look like nothing. Super impressive!! I wish I had taken their picture.
Day 1 was an all day climb from Front Royal to Big Meadows on Skyline Drive. We did not know it at the time but this would be our hardest day with over 50 miles of riding and 8000 feet of climbing. The day was hard but Bill was strong and had to push me along a few times. We were not managing our food in take very well and I kept bonking. At one point we were pretty much out of food and had no energy left but lucky for us at the bottom of the food box was a tube of agave and maple syrup. We downed it like some sort of power gel and it worked wonders to get us to our destination.
The weather was great minus a little rain that stopped right after we got our rain gear out. The heat and humidity had already soaked us, so the rain was nice.
We carried a lot of water but for the most part there were several good places to get it all along the way. The facilities on Skyline are great. The Blue Ridge Parkway also has nice facilities but they are much more spread out.
Our campsite at Big Meadows was wonderful. It had showers, laundry, bear boxes etc…. There is also a very nice lodge there. We saw a family of bears as we entered the area which was exciting. Also along the way we saw very tame deer on the side of the road and we had a small snake climb on to Bill’s wheel trying to escape the heat of the road.
All and all a good day but hard. Attached is a link to MapMyRide where you can see the details of ride on a map. The time it took and the exact mileage may be a little off. http://www.mapmyride.com/workout/1161642599
Another video done from Ecuador and what a great place to visit. Un Poco del Choco was set up by a German Biologist Nicole Büttner (MSc) and her Ecuadorian husband Wilo Vaca. It is a private conservation project in the Northwest of Ecuador that is in the heart of small, beautiful cloud forest. The project offers students an opportunity to do field research and volunteers to help maintain the small but diverse preserve. Eco-tourist are also welcomed to come and see the wildlife and birds like the very rare Banded Ground-Cuckoo. At different times of the year local children are invited to come and learn about the importance of conservation.
We had a great visit here and became friends with Nicole and Wilo. Volunteers have build a great trail down to an incredibly beautiful river where we enjoyed an afternoon swim. The home of Wilo and Nicole and the biological station were both built by Wilo and are like wooden Gaudí mountain cabin. They are super comfortable and super ecologically friendly.
Wilo and Nicole’s goal is through donations and money paid by guest to expand the preserve and protect more land and endangered wildlife. Check them out on the web or visit in person on your next trip to Ecuador!!
Last weekend I spent Saturday and Sunday hiking in Aigüestortes with a few friends and of course I carried my camera. Click on the photo below to see all the pictures from the weekend.
We have left El Refugio de Intag and are now deep in a mountain rainforest with another organisation called Un Poco del Choco. Although we had internet in Intag I was not very good about posting. We spent most of our time there enjoying the nature and being led on great expeditions to see endangered Eagles and the like with our friend and guide Peter.