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[RC] No Frills - no tractor pulls this year!! - Flora Hillman

Crystal -

Happy Birthday!!  Glad you got to celebrate it on the No Frills trail.  It
was really worth driving all the way down from Canada, wasn't it??!! And
that wasn't "real" snow -- it was just some flurries having fun playing with
us on the ridge!!  Hopefully you outraced the storm getting back to Canada. 

And for anyone who ever wanted to do an AWESOME trail, this is one of the
most beautiful, most visual trail in Virginia.  The 55 mile trail  traversed
four counties and two states, and the views from the crest of the mountains
makes one stop and stand transfixed at  the scenic glory of this incredibly
historic countryside.  

The first loop was 18 miles -- starting with an excellent 8 mile warm-up
clip along wide gravel roads before the trail crossed into the George
Washington National Forest to present the toughest part of the trail with
some technical, challenging climbs.  The vet check was, as been described,
as a horse (and human!) banquet, with delicious food abounding for both two
legged and four legged diners.

The second loop was an exquisite 25 mile loop heading back up into the
mountains and then dipping down into the hidden hollows of deep woods where
the only sound for miles and miles was the drip of gentle rain and melted
sleet off the early spring branches. What was really incredible was to see
acres of lichen-covered rock  glowing with phosphorescent brilliance in the
half light. Towards the end the trail opened up to wider spaces with lots of
grass -- perfect for stopping to give the horses a snack  of fresh spring
grass.  By the time the trail guided the riders back to the vet check again,
the horses who hadn't eaten much at the first check really dove into the
food.  So did the riders!!!

The final leg was an easy cruising 7 miles on a softly rolling nicely wide
gravel fire road that was followed the whole way by a crystal clear, cold
rushing deep stream and lots of delicious grass.  One could have hand walked
the rest of the way to the finish, the going was that nice.

A brilliantly laid out trail with views that are unparalled.  

If anyone wants to see some shots, I uploaded some of the trail photos to
the Old Dominion website -- just look for the "Trail Photos" on the menu at
www.olddominionrides.org.   I apologize for any that are fogged -- the lens
on my digital camera got a bit annoyed with me after a while as I kept
making it go from warm to cold to warm to cold, etc.


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