Sunday, November 10: The hike from Jewell Hollow Overlook on the Skyline Drive to Mary’s Rock is about 3.5 miles each way, for a round trip of about 7 miles. At this altitude, the leaves have mostly fallen from the trees, but it’s a stunning landscape just the same. I adore the gnarly trunks & branches covered in lichen, the lime-green bits of moss on the ground, the orange and yellow trees in the valley below, and the cold wind whipping across the ridge.
As we hike the trail, meandering from the east side of the ridge, where it is relatively warm, to the west side, where the wind is howling and bitterly cold, we take off layers, put them back on, and take them off again. The trail is rocky and leaf-strewn underfoot, causing ankle-turning and slipping and sliding. It’s hard to be surefooted on this trail.
We meet groups of Korean hikers decked out in the latest hiking gear, the Wanderbirds from D.C, and two young hikers who have been on the Appalachian trail since mid-June, Two-Liter and Fabio; they won’t be finished their hike of the entire trail until mid-January. Brrrr. Two-Liter complains that it’s the rocks underfoot on the trail that are killing them. They went through all the northern states, beginning in Maine, and they tell us people they encountered along the way promised them that in the Shenandoah, the rocks wouldn’t cause them a problem. She rolls her eyes: “Wrong!”
At the Mary’s Rock summit, we encounter quite a crowd of people, and their dogs, enjoying the view in the biting wind.
Click on any of the photos below for a full-sized slide show.
I have dreams of hiking the Camino in northern Spain, but as my legs, knees, toes and back are aching from today’s 7 mile hike, I think I will have to get in a lot better shape in order to do 20+ miles a day, carrying a backpack, on the Camino. Maybe I’ll put that dream on the back burner for a while. Either that or get busy hiking longer distances to build stamina and strength.
October hikes in Virginia are always lovely, as fall color always peaks during that month, but November hikes are another treat altogether.
Chilled to the bone and sore and tired after our hike, we stop at Black Bear Bistro & Cellar in Warrenton for pizzas, wraps, beers and a warm and welcoming environment.