Riding the Virginia Creeper Trail!
By Rachelle Siegrist
The entire gang stopped along the trail
Every outdoor adventure seeker knows the sensation of finally arriving at the starting place of your exciting journey! A little over a week ago, I finally got to do something I had patiently waited 13 years to do, ride my bike on the Virginia Creeper trail, and I had my family with me to boot! Arriving at the Whitetop parking area that Friday morning, we unloaded and reassembled our bikes.
Mom, Wes, Dad, Haydyn, Alicia and Tyler at the Whitetop Trailhead
The air was cool as we mounted our steel horses and began our adventurous journey! Within minutes we entered a dense deep green forest and before long we were riding over the first of many wonderful old trestle bridges that remain.
Everyone could be heard saying “This is great!” and of course I had to stop to peer over the edge of the high trestle bridge, which was quite a distance down! Knowing we had a lot of territory to cover, onward we went bumping up and down over numerous small rocks along the gravel dirt trail. Half an hour had passed and it was all fun and games until my nephew Tyler exclaimed . . . “Grandpa, I hear air coming form your tire!” We stopped in the shade of a large tree beside the historical Green Cove Station, that once served as the post office, general store, and freight office, and realized my dad’s back tire was flat! When my brother’s patch kit wouldn’t do the trick, the very nice lady in the station, lent him another patch kit. While the guys worked on the tire, the rest of us enjoyed seeing the numerous old historical photographs pertaining to the train and railroad, as well remaining items left on display in the old general store.
Finally Dad’s tire was fixed and we were merrily off once again! Thinking that was the end of our “minor setbacks” for the day, we soon changed our opinion when a little girl crashed in front of my Dad, causing him to immediately stop to keep from hitting her, which in turn caused my Mom to run into him, causing her to fall off of her bike! “Oh No!” I thought, watching as my mom gracefully went over sideways, thankfully landing on the soft, weed-covered edge. My Dad and I quickly helped her up and dusted her off. She said she was fine, so once again we mounted our bikes and were off. “Hmmmm . . . things usually come in three’s” I thought as we bounced along, starting to get concerned of what the 3rd event for this trip may be. I couldn’t believe it when minutes later, a bee flew smack into my face, stinging me 1/16th of an inch below my left eye! Grabbing my eye, I swerved quickly to the edge of the trail, being sure not to cause my mom to fall again. When I finally stopped it was mere inches from the edge which went down straight some distance! Thankfully it only swelled a little as I continued on for the day!
Oh . . . my eye!!!
The scenery was just beautiful as we rode along and I was delighted that there were several beautiful old barns located along the trail. I stopped to get photos of many of them for reference for future paintings! One of the best however, was this old house wrapped in bright yellow, police tape, with a sign posted out front which read, “Lodging in the Mountains”. “Ha!” I thought thinking what a perfect spot it was for the advertising sign!
Bet you could get a good deal on a night at this place!
Here are a few of the beautiful old barns I photographed along the way . . .
In other areas the seemingly endless stream swept along, shallow here, deeper there, surrounded by a thick forest of tall trees and Rhododendrons above a moss covered floor. Rays of sun occasionally broke through the thick canopy, sending down columns of light, bringing glorious color to the stream below.
We soon realized that our three unplanned incidents had taken up quite a bit of time and we weren’t going to make our reserved shuttle time, so we had to limit stops and move along at a pretty good clip. We also missed lunch and were really starting to get hungry. My Niece Haydyn was the lucky one however, as she was riding in her two wheeled chariot being pulled by Uncle Wes! She kept announcing to him “I have 2 snacks Uncle Wes!” as he peddled and bounced along, growing ever more hungry, while Haydyn happily sat back there eating snacks and singing!
Faster Uncle Wes . . . faster!
I have always loved bridges and of course enjoy riding my bike over them, so this was a great trail for several of those experiences! They were all different, in length, height, shape and size, each showing off their own special features! Here are a few of them . . .
My Dad on the long bridge past Damascus
I think this one was one of my favorites, as I love the metal top supports!
Tyler zips along like a little champ!
When we all arrived and met up in Damascus, it was decided that my Dad and Brother Marshall, would ride to the end of the trail located in Abingdon, while Wes and I would ride the shuttle van back up to Whitetop. We were very thankful to be able to squeeze onto a shuttle leaving 2 hours later than our reservations, after Wes told them why we were late. When asked how it was, Wes said “We had a flat tire, one person fell off their bike and another got stung in the eye by a bee . . . but we had a great time!!!” Our shuttle driver from Adventure Damascus, was most friendly and shared historical facts and great stories, taking time to also point out interesting locations, during our ride back to the top. Actually everyone was so friendly in the area, making it an even greater experience! Once there, we loaded our bikes and drove back along the winding road leading to Damascus, where we ate and picked up the others. I think when Wes and I finally got to eat, it was the best a Subway sandwich has ever tasted! Leaving there we drove to nearby Abingdon where we picked up my dad and brother. It was a great experience for all of us and I’m ready to return to do it again someday!!!
Wes, Tyler and Haydyn in an old phone booth. They couldn’t understand this is how you used to have to make a phone call.
At the end of the trail . . . our great adventure comes to an end!
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Until next time . . .