Up for a scenic sunrise, then on to hike through the Grayson Highlands and see the wild ponies, then on to meet up with uncle Avery (Mama Bear’s youngest brother), more wild ponies, a scenic sunset, and yet more wild ponies strolling by our tents and hammocks as we drift off to sleep.
It was hard to tell this morning whether the kids were more excited about getting to see wild ponies, or getting to see uncle Avery. I still can’t tell. The ponies were grazing all along the trail and came up to nose around the kids and their packs to see if they might find some goodies. The ponies had young foals and colts,mall of whom were very used to people trudging past them. They tolerated Orion and even ate grass from the kids open palms. The kids were instantly enamored, and Maddy has decided she wants a pony.
The terrain was stunning with open views in all directions,and large rock outcrop pings for scrambling and climbing. We took a side trail down to a parking lot to meet up with Avery (who drove Mama Bear and me to Katahdin twelve years ago to join us for the first part of our first thru-hike, and who also joined us for the first backpacking trip in which the kids travelled completely under their own power–through Mahoosic notch on the AT near the ME/NH border–and in many of our other outdoor adventures). Cartwheel and RobinHood follow him around like ducklings.
We hiked on for a few more miles, and were all treated to yet more ponies, a scenic sunset, and a fire built completely by RobinHood (lit with flint and steel, and the help of a fire-starter cotton tuft). Avery and Cartwheel slept in hammocks, RobinHood cowboy camped below them, while All In and Mama Bear shared the tent with Orion in the vestibule. After dark, some ponies came by to explore our campsite, and walked within a yard of the hammock-hangers, much to Cartwheel’s delight (and Orion’s consternation).