There’s a collective understanding that many children have a fascination with ponies. In fact, there’s this idea that requesting a pony for your birthday is a common, albeit unrealistic, request.
And since the truth is none of us ever fully grow up, we kinda want ponies for our birthdays when we are above the age of 10 as well.
It wasn’t my birthday but recently I was blessed with the opportunity to share space with some wild ponies and for my level of excitement and reverence, you may have thought I was either taking one home or that I had discovered a unicorn.
You may be wondering where this magical fairy dust experience took place. On our way home from a race in North Carolina, we made a side trip to Grayson Highlands State Park in Grayson County, Virginia. The park is within Jefferson National Forest and adjacent to Mount Rogers National Recreation Area, which is a wordy way of saying we were deep into the woods and nature.
Grayson Highlands, among all its many draws and beauties, is known for being home to a herd of ponies that is instrumental in keeping the briars, grasses and similar vegetation in check. The park and its quadrupeds have a symbiotic relationship. But these mystical creatures give the park an air of fantasy so possibly they are the best PR move a state park could ever make. I’m thinking the ponies should ask for a raise.
We arrived at the park to camp a day after our race and so our hiking legs were a little worn so we were moving slowly. That was the perfect pace for the scenery as well as the opportunity to spend a little time on the Appalachian Trail (AT), which runs through the park. We were strategic in our paths that day being sure to cover the terrain the ponies most often are encountered. In a little over an hour we covered just shy of 2 miles and only saw one pony well off into the distance. I will admit I was disappointed. This was not what I had envisioned.
Never fear. We retraced our steps back to our car and on the way we hit the pony jackpot. Well, first we heard it. About a mile into our return trip we heard the seemingly frustrated neighs of a park pony. I then started to squeal in delight at the sound. And I do mean I was squealing like a 5-year-old at candy store.
Before long this black pony appeared and he was much larger than I imagined a pony would be. He was down the hill from us in the shrubs and trees fussing about whatever gets ponies agitated.
We continued to follow the trail, which conveniently ran parallel to the pony’s chosen path for the day, but soon he began to make his way in our direction. After this guy had been so vocal in his displeasure I was a tad concerned about him getting closer but turns out he really was thoroughly uninterested in us. I mean, really, we are a big yawn-fest for him.
I, on the other hand, began to whisper as if the sound of my voice would make this whole experience vanish or that I would wake myself from this magical dream. He crisscrossed our path and leisurely snacked on grasses and whatever else ponies snack on. I was completely enamored as I conveniently stood safely behind my husband — you know, just in case.
Before long the pony wandered off and we soon realized that there were ponies all around in the distance. We saw a total of five and it was one of the simplest of joys I have ever experienced. I loved seeing the park and being on the AT and looking at all the changing leaves but the ponies were my highlight.
One of the unexpected, magical truths that we all lose sight of on occasion is that it’s often the most basic of experiences that leave us speechless. It’s the rawest of moments that keep us enthralled. It’s the simplest of pleasures that remind us that joy is all around us every minute. Ponies, while a major plus, are not required.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G