After the Wayne Henderson festival; we took a hike up to Massie Gap, which is a trail in Grayson Highlands State Park. One of the park rangers recommended the hike as our best bet to see some of the wild ponies. He said we had a good chance of seeing the ponies and might see a new foal or the head honcho-pony Fabio. Apparently he is recognizable for his long blond mane.
The hike was uphill but offered beautiful vistas of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Once we topped the hill, we saw one pony along the trail. He seemed not disturbed by us at all. Then we noticed a herd of ponies in tall grassy field. They let me get close enough for pictures. At first, I was alone with the ponies. What a special experience! Then, other hikers, as well as my Mom and Greg, came over. The ponies took an interest and walked right up to people. This probably means some people have fed them so they are looking for food. Bad idea, so don`t feed them, even if they seem to want something.
Sure enough, Fabio was there with his long flowing mane. He did seem like the take charge pony. The foal was there too. At first, the foal may have been asleep but once awake; it stayed close to its mother. I even saw the foal nursing from its mom. Fabio stood right by and kept a close eye while the baby was feeding. In a few minutes, perhaps energized from feeding, the foal started running around and jumping through the brush. It was awesome to watch it jump and play.
Amazing to see the herd of ponies out in the field, so accessible and open to our presence – truly a blessing. We also saw what looked like a really big deer but some locals who were there said it was an elk! It didn’t linger so I missed getting a picture of it. Elk have recently been reintroduced to this region.
This first hike to Massie Gap will be hard to top but I look forward to going back sometime soon.
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