In my fretting over Christmas gift selections, I completely forgot to make a post yesterday, my apologies!
It was a pretty frigid Thursday as I set out to go on a hike. Things are definitely getting colder, although I am pretty well equipped to keep hiking, as long as the weather cooperates. There are a couple of things I could definitely use, and I am hoping someone in my family checks out my Christmas list, and purchases accordingly. Drinking cold water on the hike is alright, but I sometimes have to force myself to drink, as I don’t feel as thirsty as I did in the summer.
The parking for this hike is at the spacious lot for Old Rag Mountain, which is off of Route 600, in the back of nowhere behind Sperryville. I was a teensy bit surprised to see quite a few cars, but all of those people were off to hike Old Rag, which is something I can’t do with my dog, so I’ll have to wait until I can find a hiking companion. There was a sweet old dog hanging out in the lot, probably from one of the nearby farms, and he was super friendly, but my protective guy nudged him away, probably out of jealousy.
I’ve been somewhat afraid to write about how I hike, that it will invite bad luck on me or something. I think that part of that is because of the way I was raised, when the Trailside Killer was at his height in the SF area, (something that my family actually has a personal connection with,) and it was always drummed into my head that hiking solo is a Bad Thing.
Which is why I carry various self defense items, plus hike with my dog. He’s large enough and protective enough to be somewhat of a deterrent. Still, I definitely don’t take things for granted, and there’s been a couple of times where I’ve gotten a twinge of worry, like the time I tripped and fell into a patch of stinging nettles. Still, I consider every hike I make a blow against my anxiety and depression, and hope that it continues to do so.
There’s a half mile hike up the road to where Route 600 ends, and the trail begins, winding along private property, before crossing the Hughes River and following along it for most of the hike.
This river is pretty full and energetic, even at this time of the year, so I imagine that it’s quite lively in the springtime. There are large boulders at the crossings, which required a little bit of jumping, but not too bad to get across. There was one of the crossings that was a little trickier than the others, but I managed to get both myself and my dog (who hates water) across without too much trouble.
There are quite a few pretty waterfalls and cascades along the way, with a nice thunderous one near the beginning.
You can tell at times that the trail was probably an old road, as there are times when it felt very built up, with rock walls on one or the other side, or sometimes both sides. It made for an easier hike than some of the hikes I’ve done recently, a lot less rocky, with sandy soil and a pretty gentle climb.
Eventually, the trail comes up to Corbin Cabin, which was my turning around point. The trail continues up to Skyline, but this was a good place to stop and eat some lunch. Even though it was sunny out, I found myself getting cold quickly, and somewhat regretted taking my gloves off, as they got cold and numb fast.
On the way back down, I heard some crashing in the undergrowth that sounded almost human like. I became a little nervous, and my dog was rather excited. The sun was in my eyes on the way back, but I looked off the trail to the side, somewhat behind me, and that’s when I realised I had just seen my first bear.
Or at least, the first backside of a bear, as it lumbered off away from me. Luckily it was the kind that was afraid of me, as opposed to the kind that would want to peel me open to find the delicious Clif Bars contained inside. I knew that all of Shenandoah was bear country, but this was my first. It was a bit of a thrill. I am no stranger to wildlife, I’ve seen lynxes, and foxes, and even a mountain lion, but bears aren’t something you see all too often.
It put a spring in my step on the way back for sure.