Top Three Hikes Within an Hour of Lynchburg

By Rachel Van Tuyl

As summer draws to a close and November ushers in cooler temperatures, Lynchburg residents and students may find themselves looking for some beautiful hikes in the area. With so many natural areas around the city, it isn’t difficult to find hikes to fit any level of difficulty.

Husband and wife team Adam and Christine Anderson, who run the website Virginia Trail Guide, have grown up hiking Virginia trails, and offer advice to hikers who may not be very familiar with the area.

Sharp Top Mountain

Thirty-four miles to the west of Liberty University’s campus lies Sharp Top Mountain, which is visible from Liberty’s campus. The 2.6 mile hike is a steep uphill all the way to the top, so this trail will definitely give hikers a workout. A series of steps forms most of the trail, for a total of a 1,227-foot elevation gain.

Despite the trail’s difficulties, it still seems to be a popular destination among hikers.

“The trail is a little rocky and there are some stiffer uphill sections, but it is well worth the effort,” reviewer Dave Phillips wrote.

Adam Anderson has been hiking Sharp Top since childhood, and he has noticed more people taking the hike over the years.

“I always recommend (starting) a hike up Sharp Top early in the morning, so you can take in the beautiful view with a bit of solitude,” Adam Anderson said.

Crabtree Falls

Located just 45 miles from Liberty, Crabtree Falls is the tallest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. It is a moderate hike with few challenges.

“Crabtree Falls is probably one of the easiest waterfall hikes in the Mid-Atlantic,” reviewer Melissa Moore wrote. “The waterfall is only a few hundred feet from the parking lot via a flat, paved path, (and) the viewpoint for the falls is right there next to the falls.”

However, Christine Anderson said that more experienced hikers who want a challenge can continue hiking beyond Crabtree Falls to either Spy Rock or The Priest.

“Both of those spots offer amazing views and are challenging add-ons to the Crabtree Falls Hike,” Christine Anderson said.

Although the falls are a beautiful location, they are not without their dangers.

“It also has the misfortune of being one of the deadliest spots in (George Washington National Forest),” Christine Anderson said. “The rocks are very slippery, but hikers keep leaving the trail and climbing out toward the waterfall.”

According to a sign at the falls, the rocks are slippery because of clear algae growing on them. But Christine Anderson said the hike is safe if hikers stay on the marked trails.

McAfee Knob

Perhaps one of the most well-known trails is the McAfee Knob hike, located about an hour from Liberty. The 8.8 mile hike, with its picturesque views, offers visitors unique photo opportunities. Thousands of hikers visit the area every year to have their picture taken atop the knob jutting out from the mountain.

For many, McAfee Knob holds special memories.

“I spent my birthday backpacking across McAfee Knob a couple years ago,” Christine Anderson said. “I got to sit on the ledge and dangle my feet over the view. It’s a gift to have a birthday in such a glorious spot.”

Since the Appalachian Trail crosses McAfee Knob, the area sees many visitors, and it is the most photographed area on the entire Appalachian Trail, according to Christine Anderson. She believes that the hardest part of the hike isn’t the trail itself, but rather trying to find a parking spot.

“With the rise of Instagram and other social media, casual hikers are choosing to visit this iconic spot in increasing numbers,” Christine Anderson said. “It can be hard to find parking, and the trail is often quite crowded.”

Hikers who want to try McAfee Knob can visit Roanoke Appalachian Trail Club’s website, which offers tips and other information on this hike.

“We’re lucky to be in a state that has so many wonderful hiking trails,” Christine Anderson said. “No matter what trail you choose, you’re going to see something great.”

Whether hikers choose to scale a mountain or visit waterfalls, it is important to plan ahead for hikes. This includes checking the weather, and having a trail map, first aid kit, water and snacks. Hikers can also look for a list of 10 essentials for all hikers.

“Looking at some of the sights you see on these three hikes will naturally cause you to pause and reflect on the beauty of nature,” Adam Anderson said. “With the crazy world that surrounds us on a daily basis, we could all use some of that to help ground us and think about our place in this world.”

Profile: Peacock Soap Company

Beyond the Gift

The unique origins of locally-owned Peacock Soap Company

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To celebrate her 10-year anniversary, Kristie Paxton and her husband spent a week driving along the west coast. One night, they found themselves at a cute, very hospitable, Bed and Breakfast in Oregon. The owners had one room left to offer the Southwest Virginia couple, and it had a bathtub, but no shower.

“They felt so guilty about it that they stocked the room with soaps and lotions,” Kristie recalls. “They didn’t really sell them, but they allowed me to purchase some. I brought them home, used them up, and requested more.”

Soon after, Kristie decided to start making her own soaps for personal use. With a little help from the Bed and Breakfast owners and a few books, she quickly found that her new hobby yielded enough product to sell to the community as well. She opened Peacock Soap Company, lovingly named for her grandmother’s affinity for raising peacocks. For the past eight years, she has made and sold soaps, lotions, and other toiletries at local stores and the Grandin Farmers Market. Recently, she expanded her line to include beeswax and soap nuts.

“[Soap nuts] are literally a nut grown on a tree,” Kristie explains. “The nuts are grown in India. I buy them and package them. They are a really interesting alternative to laundry detergent.” Kristie has started using soap nuts in her home as well. “They are completely reusable,” she adds. “You can throw them in the washing machine five or six times and then compost them.”

Peacock Soap Company stands out from the competition with unique scent offerings. Their beer and wine soaps actually contain beer and wine, and the sugar content makes each soap extra sudsy. (This would be a great stocking stuffer for the wine or beer lover in your life!) Additional scents for the winter season will include Crackling Firewood, Ginger Snap, Evergreen, and the signa-ture Peacock Bar.

Kristie also makes hand and body lotions, lightweight face lotions, lip balm, and liquid soaps. You can find her, on occasion, as a fill-in vendor at the Grandin Farmers Market. Her products are
also sold at Downshift and the Treehouse Collaborative. Additionally, Kristie will participate in the KrisKindle Market at the Clifton Forge School of the Arts this month! Stay updated on Peacock Soap Company and purchase directly from a link to their Etsy page by following them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacocksoapco. Finally, if you see Kristie at the Grandin Farmers Market, be on the lookout for a special touch on her table!

Another nod to her grandmother, Kristie displays her packaged soaps on her grandmother’s china. “It’s kind of sweet because I get that question a lot about where my name came from,”she says. “It’s nice to be able to tote her along.”

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Save Smarter

Money Master or Financially Challenged?

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

With the inevitable uptick in holiday spending in sight, it’s high time to check in on your money management know-how. Many people might think they have a solid grasp of their finances, but there are certain key pieces you should have in place to truly be considered a financial pro. Below are five checkpoints to help determine if you’re really the money guru you think you are.

You’re aware of your income and expenses. If you track how much money is coming in and going out each month, consider yourself a smart money manager. Failing to be in tune with your income and expenses can lead to over-spending and debt, or missed opportunities to make the most of your money through investing. If you need to improve in this area, start by tracking your monthly income and expenses over a period of time and watch for trends. Ideally, you’ll have money left over at the end of a month to put into savings or in-vestments. If you’re consistently left in the negative, find ways to cut down on expenses.

You have a savings plan. Not only does this include having funds on hand to pay for emergency expenses, this includes long-term investments for a secure financial future. If your employer offers an investment plan like a 401(k), participate—especially if they match your investment. If you’re not investing and don’t know where to begin, your local bank or credit union is a good place to start. They can direct you toward low-risk investment opportunities. It’s never too early (or late) to begin investing.

You’re debt-free or making progress on paying off debt. There’s good debt, like a mortgage that provides a roof over your head, and bad debt, like credit cards near their maximum limit. Having some debt is fine, but it should mostly fall into the good category. If you have bad debt, get rid of it as quickly as possible by devising a plan to pay it off. Start by tackling the largest balance with the highest interest rate first.

You’re aware of monthly bills. Similar to an awareness of your income and expenses, you should know what bills you’re incurring each month. Even if you have automatic payments established, you should know when bills are typically deducted from your account, the amount, and the terms of the purchases. Billing mistakes can happen, and it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re paying the correct amount or take action to correct the charge if necessary.

You think about the big financial picture. When do you want to retire and what investments will help you get there? How many years are left on your mortgage? How will you pay for your children’s education? You don’t have to make all the big financial decisions right now, but you should remain mindful of your overall financial health. If you always consider how every major purchase or investment impacts your overall finances, you’re more likely to make smart money choices.

Join Member One here each month for more money-saving tips and financial advice! Be sure to visit their website, www.memberonefcu.com, for more info on their products and services. Member One Federal Credit Union is federally insured by the National Credit Union Administration.

Get Creative

Creativity Take Courage

A practical hands-on guide to strengthening creative intuition.

Dare to break the mold with Creativity Takes Courage. This inspirational and thoughtful guide is a practical, hands-on guide to strengthening creative intuition and an interactive workbook focusing on the pleasure of the process, this is a creativity book like no other. Organized around a series of 13 dares, it challenges the reader to bravely silence the critical inner voice, look around at the world through the eyes of a child, disconnect from technology, learn from failure, and even take time to be bored. Paper ‘goodies’ are sprinkled throughout, from postcards to daily project notebooks and a quietness diary, to fold-out posters and pull-out Polaroid-style frames. These surprises bookend chapters and serve as a guide to putting each dare’s lessons into immediate practice.
www.flowmagazine.com

Meaningful Photos

How to capture more meaningful family photos

Written by Laura Richards, Laura Richards Photography

Every Christmas morning, I would wait at the top of the stairs with my brother and sister until Christmas “started.” This meant that Mom and Dad were downstairs, ready to go with the camcorder (remember those big, bulky things with actual cassette tapes in them?).

“Okay, come down!” Dad would yell. And for the rest of the morning, our Christmas together was documented, even the quiet parts when we were just opening new underwear.

I guess you could say that memory-capturing was a big part of our family, with an antique chest full of photographs to prove it. And I guess you could say that’s why it’s so important in my own family now as well. Documenting my son’s childhood is one of my greatest joys, and knowing that one day he’ll have boxes, albums, frames and videos of all those years gives me a certain kind of peace.

Inspired by these memories of holidays-past and the season ahead, I want to share a few tips on how to more meaningfully document your family. Seek emotion. Real, raw emotion is the secret ingredient to great documentary photography. Try to capture a range of emotion, like the look on your daughter’s face when she takes the first bite of the sugar cookies you made together, or the tears that well in your mom’s eyes when she opens the photo album you made her.

Squat, crawl and climb. Experiencing the holidays from different angles will result in more interesting photos and videos. This is especially fun when photographing children and pets. Get on their level — or way above it.

Let it happen. Think of photography as moment-freezing, not moment-creating. This year, document the holidays exactly as they happen. Don’t force smiles or poses. Our photos speak loudest when we observe quietly.

Embrace the small. Every moment spent with family and friends is a reason to pull out your camera, whether it be the one on your phone or your fancy DSLR. The more photos you take, the more you’ll realize just how many tiny, beautiful moments we let quietly slip by.

Get closer. One of the most important things I’ve learned about photography is that there’s always room to move closer to your subjects. When you see your spouse hugging your son on Christmas morning, move in and capture the way his little head fits perfectly in the nook between neck and shoulder. This intimacy offers such a different and often emotional perspective.

Get in the frame. As moms, we often stand behind the camera. We’re either so focused on our children that our own presence in the image seems trivial, or we don’t feel “perfect” enough to be in the frame. But here’s a secret: You are always worthy enough to be in the photograph. Your children love you more than a bad hair day, more than a holiday-stress blemish, more than the numbers on a scale — and their memories with you will mean the world one day.

Print, print, print. Better photos are tangible photos. Promise yourself you’ll always have more pictures made from ink and paper than pixels. Promise your family they’ll always have albums to hold in their hands and look at on snowy days — or when they long for days gone. Try to print photos very soon after the holidays, so you don’t get overwhelmed or sidetracked. Now why is all this important? Why is documentary photography important to your family? For me, it’s about creating legacy, and the idea that photographs are pieces of that legacy. They’re one of the most precious things we can leave our children. Our traditions and experiences together are so important that we need tangible memories, ones that say, “The life and love we created mattered.”

Laura Richards is a natural-light maternity, newborn and family photographer in Roanoke, who specializes in heirloom-quality albums, wall art, prints and more. When she’s not photographing or editing, she’s chasing after her tod-dler, Tucker.

www.laurarichardsphotography.com

Virginia Made: RIOT Rooster

Holiday Shopping

Support local artisans and small businesses while celebrating RIOT Rooster’s 10th Anniversary!

Written by Hayleigh Worgan

To say we are excited about RIOT Rooster is an under-statement! This month, RIOT Rooster will celebrate its 10th year, and will host their two-day event at 16 West Marketplace. Come on out to shop small, relax, and celebrate with your favorite Bella girls on Friday, November 16 from 5-10pm and Saturday, November 17 from 9am-6pm!

As returning fans of this event already know, there are many reasons to love and support RIOT Rooster. In addition to the importance of supporting local, small businesses, RIOT Rooster is a place that puts the fun back in holiday shopping. Unlike other shopping events in the area, it is open to the public with no admis-sion fee! Community is the main focus here, and you’ll find that in the details. Always family-friendly, special features include a fire-pit lounge and the Cactus Joe Choo Choo, which will offer free down-town rides to attendees.

Several artists participating this year are making limited edition items to commemorate the 10th anniversary of this special event. First up, one of our personal favorites: Piper Lane, of Magpiper Metalworks (www.facebook.com/magpipermetalworks), is creating a “ring for the resistance”. She will offer ten of these limited edition, adjustable rings, exclusively for RIOT Rooster.

Next, Giant Star (www.facebook.com/giantstarco), a collaboration between Josh Gibson of Giant Step Design and Stratton Delany from Starlight Bicycles, will offer a limited edition RIOT Rooster tee available only at this year’s event. They will also sell their popular stock designs of regional natural assets such as McAffee Knob and The Cove.

Finally, Robin Gross and Andy Dillon of Transcendent Glass (www.facebook.com/TranscendentGlass), a knitting and glass-making business, will create their own limited edition collaborative piece for RIOT Rooster. Keep an eye out on social media for more details as they are available!

With what we know about RIOT Rooster, 16 West Marketplace will be filled with talented artisans, and there will be something special for everyone! This is the place to find handmade, upcycled, recycled, and odd and useful gifts for all of the people who are hard to shop for on your holiday lists. Set aside time to browse and enjoy the environment—you won’t even have to leave for food and beverages!

Existing businesses will be open inside 16 West Market-place, including Little Green Hive and Wok n Roll Kitchen. The Roanoke City Democratic Committee will also serve craft libations on both days, with all proceeds benefitting the West End Center.

This event is eagerly anticipated by those who attend every November, so don’t miss your opportunity to get there on Friday night and take advantage of swag while you shop for the limited-edition items throughout 16 West Marketplace! Stay tuned to RIOT Rooster’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RIOTRooster) for vendor updates, giveaways, and more!

 

Hayleigh is a freelance writer, independent author, and writing consultant. In 2017, she published her first novel, The Huntsman: A modern retelling of Red Riding Hood. She spends a lot of time traveling and exploring new regions for inspiration, but Roanoke will always be her home. www.hayleighworgan.com.

Bella Eats – Fermentation Revolution

Transform the Ordinary into the Extraordinary

Fermentation is one of the hottest kitchen trends of the past several years, and for good reason —it allows us to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary (delicious pickles, olives, ginger beer). But, more than that, fer-mented foods enhance nutritional value, aid in digestion and help regulate our immune systems. Contrary to what you may think, fermenting doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult or over-whelming. You don’t have to disinfect your entire kitchen or worry about weird things growing in your pantry. Home fermentation is an inexpensive way to prolong the life of your food, multiply its nutritional properties tenfold, awaken your taste buds and liven up every meal. Canadians Sebastien Bureau (a food scientist) and David Cote (an organic restaurant chain founder) have written the perfect book providing 70 easy and cost-effective recipes for everything from fermented vegetables, fruits and sugars to milk, grain and legumes. Fermentation Revolution covers the science behind fermentation, as well as types of fermenta-tion processes and useful equipment. Fermentation Revolution is an excellent book to get you started on the road to in-home fermentation. With 70 easy, healthy recipes for sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and more, this is THE book to help you get started, even if you’re just mildly curious.

www.revolutionfermentation.ca

Fall into a Fitness Routine

Take advantage of the changing seasons and commit to healthy habits.

Fall is notorious for comfort foods like pumpkin spice lattes and game day nachos. Combine these tempting seasonal staples with darker, shorter days and it can be hard to maintain an active mindset. Despite the enticement to indulge, you can keep your active lifestyle going or even kick off a new fitness regime. This year, take advantage of the winds of change when the seasons switch and commit to smart habits for a healthy fall.

Dress for success. As the temperatures drop, you may be tempted to bundle up before heading outdoors to exercise, and for your warm-up and cool-down period, that’s not a bad idea. However, while you’re in the midst of your workout, it’s easy to get overheated. Wear layers that you can shed as you begin to sweat and consider moisture-wicking materials that can prevent sweaty clothes from getting cold in the breeze.

Stay hydrated. You may not feel as thirsty when you exercise in cooler weather, but it’s just as important to keep your body well hydrated. When you sweat, you lose more than just water. An option like Propel Electrolyte Water helps you replace what’s lost in sweat through its key electrolyte – sodium – and supports hydration by stimulating thirst and aiding in fluid balance. With the same level of electrolytes as Gatorade, zero calories and no sugar, it can be a perfect choice to support your active lifestyle. (Learn more at propelwater.com.)

Opt for early workouts. When dark comes early, it can trick your mind into thinking it’s time to wind down for the night. Avoid that motivation pitfall by planning your workout earlier in the day, such as first thing in the morning or during your lunch break. If early mornings are daunting, remember that it won’t take long to shift your sleep schedule and early exercise is a caffeine-free way to put some energy into your day.

Find exercises you enjoy. Forcing yourself through exercises you despise will only backfire in the long run. If you’re not a runner, look for other ways to get your cardio pumping. Interval walking with varied paces and elevation can be an effective alternative or look at ideas like kickboxing or aerobics that you can have fun with while working up a sweat.

Indulge in moderation. Virtually every expert agrees that an occasional indulgence is perfectly acceptable, but use caution when the fall goodies start tempting. Those warm, rich desserts and drinks are filled with empty calories that can make all your hard work go to waste.

Set realistic goals. Having a long-term goal is a good idea, but be sure to set attainable expectations for yourself, including some milestones you can celebrate along the way to keep your motivation strong. Be realistic about how much time you can dedicate to fitness with your other life demands so you can set your goals accordingly.

Don’t skimp on skin care. The sun may not be as hot, but if you’re exercising outdoors, you’re still at risk for sunburn. Protect any exposed skin with sunscreen before working out.

The regional magazine for women