21 October 2008

Old Rag Mountain Hike

It's been WAY too long since our last post, and even longer since I've posted one. Frankly, I haven't had a whole lot to write about, even though I've been diligently going to the Farmer's Market, and even tried a few first time recipes as well! This summer was busy, and this fall is going to prove to be even busier with lots of international travel that will keep me crossing time zones and jet lagged until Christmas. But....I digress.

As many of you know, I am a HUGE advocate for supporting our National Parks. They are grossly underfunded, mistreated, theived, poached, littered upon, and in need of some massive attention and repair. I cannot express enough what a treasure we have in our National Park System. I strongly encourage you to visit as many of your local national parks as possible, and even to become a member!


Last Saturday, I went with the Young Adult group of the Arch-Diocese of Washington (ADW) on a day trip to Shanendoah National Park. Our mission was to hike Old Rag mountain. "why is it called Old Rag, you say?" Well, the name is derived from the original "Old Ragged Top" or "Old Ragged Mountain" which references the mountain's ragged, rocky appearance. It has since been shortened to simply "old rag."

I had no idea that hiking Old Rag would be so strenuous. Considering it was a group of young adults from ADW, I figured (without doing any research) that the hike was going to be more of a nature walk like Catoctin Mountain (Maryland), and less of a real rock climbing kind of hike. You see, the nearly 9 mile trek up Old Rag Mountain consists largely of granite rocks. There are ginormous boulders dotting and precariously teetering all around, and the last mile to the summit is a scramble that is sure to test the physical mettle of any novice hiker or enthusiast. It certainly tested me, and my calves still haven't recovered!

Once nearing the top, you start to see a change in the flora. I realized that I hadn't seen a proper pine cone in months if not years, so I couldn't resist snapping a "texural shot" of these bad boys.

Berries at the Mountain Top
I also noticed that winter seems a lot more imminent when you're up at the top. It was also amazing to me that the plants that grew out of the cracks in the granite rock face could even thrive as much as they did. And in some cases, the plants were even capable of bearing fruit!

The summit of Old Rag Mountain is 3291'. It's best to do it with a friend who has hiked the trail before. As a side note, if you ever want to spontaneously join a hike, you should be at the Vienna metro (orange line) North entrance at 8am any Saturday morning in OCtober. You're sure to find a group and a carpool. :)

Please enjoy the rest of these pictures, taken with my Sony DSC-W70 (7.2MP) camera

Clouds over Old Rag Mtn



VA fall color

Be on the lookout in the next month for posts from China and Zambia.

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