Old Rag Mountain

1. Old Rag from the road
2. a Marbled Orb Weaver (check out the horned face on his back & his trendy striped legs)
3. Virginia really is for lovers (good call Sarah!)
4.Let's be honest: a puny upper body strength girl like me could never pose as Atlas, but look at the view!

So let me preface this post by saying that this was a first time experience for me in mountain climbing... both in reaching a summit AND in actual rock climbing. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise to most of you, but before the climbing part actually came into play, I thought I was only going to be experiencing the summit portion. Ha, silly me... 

So husband suggests we tackle Old Rag Mountain Saturday morning and preps me for increasingly cooler temperatures and 5 hours of hiking, but slyly leaves out the part about rocks. Crafty, husmate, crafty. After parking our car in a random lot in the middle of nowhere, VA, we follow the half mile road to the start of the trail. We stop for a moment at the trail map, and I notice nothing out of the ordinary with the exception of this small mention of misplaced boulders due to erosion? Eh, that doesn't cause me to even guess what's coming (I can be really naive sometimes), so we start the hike up. 

We randomly come across the crazy colorful spider, the tree for lovers, and even a few pieces of fallen pine that reminded us of the coming Christmas holidays. Things are going swell until we reach nothing but rock, and I overhear this mom telling her daughter that they best turn around because she doesn't think they'll be able to finish the hike... That definitely perked up my ears. So here I am thinking that we're very near the summit... oh how I was wrong. 

5. Just following the blue stripes
6. Before I started testing my rock climbing skills
7. Anybody surprised that husband is downing this platypus of water? 
8. One of the many boulders we got to walk under/over/around

This is about when husmate (husband + roommate = husmate) tells wifey that the remainder of the hike to the summit involves rock climbing and that the summit is still about a mile away. I have to give him credit: he knew that I would fret over this portion the whole way up if he had told me beforehand, so kudos to him. Ha! About a fourth of the way into this alternating climbing and waiting period (the trail is so narrow and the hike so popular that you get to wait in Disney-like lines for your turn to go), I turn to husband and say "They really should tell people that this hike isn't for the faint of heart" to which he replies "They do... I just didn't tell you." Cleverrr... At least my panting is now justified. 

So after about four summit fake outs on my part ("Husband is this it?" "No, not yet... See that even higher point? That's where we're headed"), we finally make it to the summit. The past few hours have started to make me feel 20 years older (hello hamstrings! I hear ya, I hear ya), but it was so fun! However, let me clarify: I was not going back the way we came as I was fairly certain that I might have rolled off the mountain due to some of the rocks being so smooth. So after a light lunch on top of our rock, we escaped the crazies and hiked back down a longer and less adventurous way to our car. 

9. The view from the REAL summit
10. Both excited to have finally found it!
11. Our reactions from some of the things we saw/heard from other hikers
12. Leftovers for dinner

This side of the mountain cut down on the number of hikers significantly (probably because it was double the length) which finally allowed us to have some pretty fun conversations (much better than wifey panting up the mountain while husband was totally fine during the first half...). I think one of my favorite things that husband said during this part was sharing his excitement over potentially going to sleep at 8:30. Old man wannabe, but so adorable all the same

We eventually started to follow a brook back to the beginning of the circuit, which made for a nice change from all the dead leaves. Plus since all the loud and annoying groups decided to be dare devils and return from whence they came, we got to see and wait on two sweet deer to cross the trail as they looked for food.

And speaking of food, since we hiked almost nine miles and burned off over a day's worth of calories, we were totally justified in ordering a Papa John's pizza on the way home as our aching muscles began to talk to us. Right? Right? Right. Thanks for agreeing with us. At least we enacted the reduce, reuse, recycle bit by drinking the rest of our hiking water at dinner rather than wasting it. We're so granola.