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mountain hiking

laura and i headed west yesterday for some shenandoah hiking, which is keeping with our recent weekend tradition. as we’d both had tough long runs on saturday, we elected for a shorter route: the reverse old rag loop. we got to the trailhead early because we were anticipating a decent weekend crowd, but the snowy conditions seemed to be a reasonable deterrent. the place was almost abandoned; there were just a couple of frozen cars left by backpackers who were off on overnight excursions.

initially, laura was chagrined by the conspicuous absence of mountain dog (see my previous post regarding canine endurance if you’re confused). but as we set about prepping our gear, our favorite wilderness hound loped-up to laura and gave her a slobbery greeting. so the three of us took off together.

it was a gorgeous morning. the woods were silent, coated by an overnight dusting of damp snow. mountain dog was in top form, prowling an amazing radius of terrain around us. as we began to ascend the mountain, the snow became deeper and icier. a cool fog blew in from the west, making for a gorgeous white landscape. nobody else had walked the trail since the most recent snowfall, and we enjoyed the virgin powder. we paused for a few pictures on the way up.

just before the summit, we were passed by three backpackers who had spent the night at the top of the mountain. apparently, the weather had been a little spottier than they expected, so they had delayed their descent until morning. this was a nice surprise, because it allowed us to follow their track across the boulder scramble, which saved us from a few treacherous slips. the rocks were glare ice, and the blue blazed markers were completely obscured by snow. after we passed their campsite, we were again left to our own navigational devices. the whole experience proved remarkably fun and surprisingly dangerous. mountain dog impressed us both with a series of calculated leaps across the rocky gaps. just before the descent, he took off on a clip down the side of the mountain, creating his own trail (presumably in a beeline towards home).

we only passed two others on the way down – a couple of guys who were waiting at the start of the rock scramble. they couldn’t figure out where the trail was. when the saw us in the distance, they elected to wait for our arrival so that we could guide them across the first few obstacles. we made it back to the trailhead without further incident, and enjoyed the whole mad experience greatly.

here’s a few pics from the excursion:

{ 1 } Comments

  1. cspata | March 2, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Permalink


    Brandon told me you were in DC. We (my husband, son and I) moved here recently. We are unfamiliar with the area and are looking for insight on outdoor activities. Your hike sounds fun. Could you give directions. We are also looking for outdoor activities that we could do with our 6 month old son, Braxton. From the sound of it, strollers wouldn’t be suitable for that terrain. Any thoughts?

    Christal (LaFavre) Spata

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