SHENANDOAH, VIRGINIA

It’s seven o’clock in the morning, ‘was trying to reach for my phone to stop the buzzing sound. I do not recall that I set the alarm as I went to bed at three o’clock in the morning already. I stayed for a few minutes lying on the bed, thinking if I am physically capable to hike with a bit of hangover and not enough sleep. Then, the thought of autumn colors sink into my head. I also heard a little voice of Dr. Seuss, Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So…get on your way.

Allan, Castillo’s family friend and my hike buddy, was kind enough to pick me up at Kuya Raul’s house. I took a nap throughout the trip to get some more rest and to conserve my energy. After two hours, we arrived at the Park Information Center. I took a map from the registration desk and was surprised to read – the hike includes a rock scramble, which means you’ll be pulling yourself up, over, and between boulders using your hands and feet. Again, I didn’t plan to do the hike, we just talked about it over dinner. It was just timely that Allan is scheduled to do a weekend hike. So, I thought again for a second if I will really do it, because I know that I am not physically prepared. The fact also that I only tag along on this hike, I do not want to ruin his weekend plan. So, I told Allan that in case I can no longer go on, I will just go back to the parking lot and wait for him. He agreed.

The adventurous spirit in me take my feet this time to Old Rag Mountain. It is located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia’s Madison County. The profile of this mountain is the one that inspires me to hike. Blue Ridge Mountain is part of the Great Appalachian Valley, one of the major landform features of the eastern North America. It is a gigantic trough stretches about 1,900 km from Quebec to Alabama and has been an important north-south route of travel since prehistoric times.

Greatvalley-map

The Great Valley Map *

There are several ways to hike Old Rag, but the most popular is a 14.5-km circuit that takes you up the Ridge Trail, across the rock scramble to the summit, then down the Saddle Trail to the Weakley Hollow Fire Road and back to where you began.

Old Rag Circuit Hike Map

My map of Old Rag Circuit Hike

From Old Rag parking lot, we walked along Route 600. The first 3 km was an increasingly steep climb along a beautiful wooded trail. I took pictures in every turn and it is also my excuse to take a rest stop. πŸ™‚ The circuit hike makes use of the Ridge Trail which ascends the mountain to the first false summit.

After coming out of the woods onto the ridgetop, the fun begins. For the next two kilometers I climb, slide, and crawl my way across and around giant granite boulders. I am a little exhausted but quitting is not an option. And also, smiling in the camera is a must! πŸ˜€

While we take a break at the rock scramble, I discussed to Allan to disregard the first plan which is to go down on the same trail. I know that I will be having a difficulty with the rocks, and we do not have the luxury of time because I already slowed down the hike. He told me that he has not tried the circuit hike before so he does not have an idea on how the trail would be. Anyway, what I did was asked other hikers that took the other route, and they said that it is easier from the other side. So, after talking to a few hikers, I am decided and determined to do the circuit hike.

But before I talk more of the trail going down, let me share you first that I did make it to the top! πŸ™‚ After three long hours, I was standing at 3,291 feet above sea level of the Old Rag Summit. Even if it was a bit gloomy, the 360 degree view of wilderness filled my spirit. The autumn made the mountain and forest amazingly beautiful.

After we take in the majestic view of Shenandoah Valley, we head back to Saddle Trail which decends down the saddle of the ridge. It was quite easy compared to the trail that we took going up the summit, but it also took us 3 hours back to the parking lot. At least, no rock scramble and steeper slopes along the way.

 

* Greatvalley-map” by Greatvalley-map.jpg: Pflyderivative work: Perhelion (talk) – Greatvalley-map.jpg. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greatvalley-map.png#/media/File:Greatvalley-map.png

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