Okay. I have to admit, my father in law was right. He scoffed at the hiking that I was used to and denounced it as “flat land” hiking. “Real hiking is done in the mountains.” Well, I figured a one mile scamper up “Humpback Rock” couldn’t be too hard for someone with my experience. It was early Thanksgiving morning. I would be alone on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I’d take my camera gear, get a few morning images, and return in plenty of time for our oyster brunch. Two things about the hike and journey now has me spoiled for mountain hiking.
Ravenous eastern trails like Majestic Oak at York River or Wahrani in New Kent are not all one direction for long stretches. Whenever you reach a peak, a valley is only a few steps away. Mountain trails go up and continue that direction until one reaches or nears the summit. And the slopes are not always gentle either. No, we aren’t talking rock climbing. But, trails like Humpback Rock, are very steep in some places only to be reduced to a kinder angle at places. The direction is still uphill for the whole mile plus. Constantly going up for one mile is worse than hiking flat for two. There were one or two moments where I thought, “the heck with this!” But I thought again, “Yeah, punk out and I’ll never forgive myself. Besides, there must be something special at the end of this trip.” Mountains taunt and tease hikers to go further and push harder with the promise of something they can’t see at a beach or in a marsh. Not to dismiss the challenge of eastern trails. Mountain hikes demand men and women to test their endurance. No one can grow in any pursuit without such testing.
Mountains fulfill their promise of spectacular views. Reaching the rocks (about 3100 feet above sea level) I was awestruck looking in this window of stone down into the lower Shenandoah Valley. Words can hardly describe the craggy rock peering into the atmosphere between a cover of sun-touched clouds and the land miles below. Had I taken the opposite trail to Dobie Mountain, I would have had the added glory of the sunrise. The overlooks along the way (Raven’s Roost was the most impressive) gave spectacular views along the way. Now, I am wishing that I had come to Charlottesville to see my in-laws more often.
I plan to hike Newport News Park with the East Coast Hikers next month. They seem like a fun group and I can’t wait to meet them. But, I will be dreaming of my next mountain adventure.