While watching some college football, I decided I needed to post about my trip to Old Rag Mountain on Thursday. I was expecting somewhat of a challenge but this trip really kicked my butt. 8.8 miles round trip because I parked in the lower lot, even if at 10 am I was only the fourth car in said lot. The walk up Something Route 600 (I have no idea how VA designates county roads, there are three 622s on the way to Mount Marshall) was easy, so I begun the hike up the Ridge Trail.
First 1.9-2 miles, one hour at a fairly casual pace, no problems, an east, relaxing hike. Remaining .9 miles to the summit, okay I knew there would be some scrambling and rock-hopping, but not any scary rock hops, drop your pack into an eight foot crevase so you can pick it up after sliding down a rock, none of that. This was a lot tougher than I thought. A family reached a tough rock pattern I described at the same as me. A big thank you to the ten year old who took my pack after I tossed it over a rock and tossed it out of the way so everyone could climb the rock. I returned the favor for other members of the same family.
I ran into a half hour delay at the toughest of the rock climbs because my left foot could not grip the small foothold because it was too slick, even with a great pair of REI boots with Vibram soles helped me. There were very few hikers on this Thanksgiving morning so there was no hiker pileup at the rocks where hundreds of people are waiting for their turn at the rocks. This was a pile up because we were either too short to reach a spot where we could simply pull ourselves over the rock to safety, couldn't get the aforementioned foothold, or a bit apprehensive about wiping out. I admit I'm a strong hiker but not a rock climber so I was a bit worried too, not to mention more tired than I figured I would be after hiking less than three miles.
This turned into a dozen or more strangers helping each other through the narrow passage. I ended up using someone else's leg/knee as a anchor, someone of top of the passage pulled me the one foot I needed to get through and pull myself the rest of the way, someone just sprinted down the hall in my apartment complex (sorry about that), I returned the favor by helping people up the passageway and moving packs out of the way, the family who helped me the first time caught up to us. That was a very uplifting feeling knowing that people who didn't even know each other pulled together as one hiking team so everyone could get through the rocks and enjoy their trip to the summit.
I got to the summit just before 2 pm, considering I started hiking after 10 am, ate the second half of my lunch, and scrapped plans to add Robertson Mountain and Corbin Hollow Trails to the itinerary. I have the gear to hike after sunset if need be, but never deliberately plan a hike at that hour after hiking all day, so I'll have to wait for that and this loop. No big deal, I can always go back, especially since I plan on buying a Shenandoah National Park Pass next year, if not a full national park pass. For just Shenanadoah it's $30, $20 for Great Falls, which I have for this year, $80 for all passes. But those are the only two I plan on going to a lot, so getting the two separate passes may be the best deal for me. Damn, I didn't know Maryland QB Chris Turner's dad was the drummer for Ratt, that explains the 80s hair band do. Back to GA Tech - Georgia as they get back from commercial.
Passes will be ordered around January 1, or maybe in time for my first hike or trail run in the spring. I'll hike in winter but am a bit apprehensive about icy conditions so I may wait until March. The Old Rag hike kicked my butt, I was super tired when I was done, but if that's the last hike of the year, I ended the hiking season with a great one.
Today's adventure was a nine mile run around Burke Lake Park, two laps for the nine miles. Not a fast pace, but a solid cold weather run. Had it been closer to a long race, I would have taken a third lap, which one of my friends did anyway. But I'm not going to over do it right now, I do not have any long races until late March so it's all about maintaining fitness right now. After we waiting for everyone to finish to make sure everyone was okay, we went to the same Starbucks we went to this summer after trail running in Fountainhead Park! I didn't know the parks were so close to each other! We ended up there for at least an hour, closer to one and a half hours. I hadn't just hung out with friends with no real purpose other than a post-run chill out in ages! It was great! The only thing I'd do differently next time is wear trail running shoes to Burke Lake.
More college football time! There are tons of great endinngs to games today.