Luis and I got back this morning. We had a great time camping at Shenandoah National Park. We camped at Loft Mountain. This is important to note, because there are multiple campgrounds affiliated with Shenandoah National Park. It’s huge.
We woke up early on Saturday morning to drive North to Old Rag Mountain. Boy oh boy finding the trailhead for Old Rag was almost more difficult than actually reaching the summit of the mountain. It probably has to do with the fact that we stayed at Loft Mountain, which is like an hour South of where we wanted to hike. It was also complicated because there was basically no cell service in the area (not shocking) and we were navigating with just maps!! **the stone ages** (Just kidding). It was actually nice knowing that we aren’t completely reliant on technology for everything. We thought it was going to take us two hours to get to the trailhead, and it did but only because Luis desperately needed coffee and we had to wait for an hour for the camp store at Big Meadows to open at 8 am. We didn’t want to light a fire at our campsite to make breakfast there, because bear prevention measures are high maintenance and require taking all our cooking stuff out of the car and then putting it back again. My point is that we didn’t technically need to get up before sunrise, because we could have made it there in time even if we had stayed to cook breakfast at our site. However, if we had not gotten up so early we would not have gotten the amazing photos of the sunrise over the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Once we found our way to the trailhead, we got going. We started hiking at 10:00 am and got back to our car at 3:15. We only stopped on the trail for a few minutes at a time to hydrate and eat some snacks along the way. Side note: I did meal plan for camping and did not go overboard with snacking or S’Mores! This is a big deal, because normally I fall off the wagon when my routine changes. Not this time! Obviously I let myself eat S’Mores. It’s just my mindset now is that when I eat something like a S’More I need to savor it and not end up eating all the left over chocolate at once. (Yes, I am guilty of that.)
Back to the hiking…. Honestly, I think we only stopped along the trail for a total of 10 or 15 minutes during the entire hike. We worried if we sat down for too long we would lose our momentum! The hike was strenuous. Hiking to the summit was obviously all uphill. It got really interesting when we reached the rock scramble. For a little more than a mile we had to literally squeeze underneath, around and over boulders and rock formations. We also had to physically climb the rocks at one point to continue the journey to the summit. I think the rock scramble was the highlight of the hike apart from finally reaching the summit. The way down the mountain was a struggle for me. I hate descending. It annoys me. I also feel like it is harder to control my body, and I use different muscle groups to go downhill that I am not used to using. Luckily I have been using a resistance training routine from REI that is meant to prepare my muscles for ascending and descending. It’s actually a work out designed for people who want to prepare for backpacking. Speaking of backpacking, I am planning on hiking to the summit of Mount Whitney in California next summer. The hike I just completed this weekend is like amateur hour compared to what I need to do to prepare for Mt. Whitney.