I am a park ranger at Shenandoah National Park, but my blog represents my own musings and enjoyment of the NPS.
Last Tuesday I embarked on the great pastime of Shenandoah National Park … the hike to the summit of Old Rag. I’m going to be honest from the start. I went with a group and we DID NOT do the infamous rock scramble, but instead came up the back way from Berry Hollow. I’m sorry, I know, it’s most embarrassing for a ranger to “cheat.” It was, however, a gorgeous day for hiking with the high being 57 and not a cloud in the sky.
Our journey began at about 10am and the group consisted of 17 of us from all over northern VA and the Shenandoah Valley. The ascent began on a well maintained fire road and after a quick stop at the outhouse, we continued up the Saddle Trail. It took us roughly two hours to reach the summit, where we all took in the breathtaking 360 degree view. For those of you that have not experienced the peaks of Virginia at this time of year, the color was spectacular. While I would say the best leaf colors had already been reached at the highest elevations, looking out onto the rolling hillside provided an abundant amount of beauty. I also observed a raven soaring so close at times I thought I might touch him. The vegetation is sparse on this rocky summit, with a few hardy mountain laurel and pines clinging to what little soil was available. We all sat down and enjoyed a 45 minute lunch, sitting atop the 1.1 billion year old Pedlar Formation (“Old Rag”) granite. This ancient rock provides a glimpse into the long past of the Appalachian mountains. Although the heights are not nearly as immense as those expereienced in our Western states, the fact that you can be in contact with something that predates most life on Earth is by far and away mind-blowing. I often relate to quotes from childhood favorites and this one jumps to mind instantly when I think about what may have happened on the very surface I sat upon eating a turkey sandwich.
Charlie Brown: Don’t think of it as dust. Think of it as maybe the soil of some great past civilization. Maybe the soil of ancient Babylon. It staggers the imagination. He may be carrying soil that was trod upon by Solomon, or even Nebuchudnezzar.
Pig-Pen: Sort of makes you want to treat me with more respect, doesn’t it?
No matter how you reach the summit, the views are well worth the climb. I hope the next time you’re in Virginia, you have a chance to experience this place where the past and future meet. It’s awe-inspiring and truly peaceful (well, as long as you go on a weekday!).
So, since it’s my day off, let’s talk baseball today. Being an American League girl (and a huge fan of Josh Hamilton ever since I met him at spring training in 2007), I’m rooting for the Rangers tonight. Lots of people I know, including my mom, are looking for a 7-game series. I get way too nervous for that, so I’m hoping the boys can pull out two back-to-back wins. I’ve been super impressed with the play (aside from Pujols annhilating the ball in Game 3, which in iteself was impressive, but led to a high-scoring game) by each team. Did you see Holland’s performance last night? Wow! I’m unable to fully engage myself in the Bills or Sabres for the next week, so bear with me as we see our last glimpses of the “Boys of Summer.”
On that note, I’m looking forward to posting some nice fall shots from my Old Rag hike tomorrow. One of the most challenging hikes in Shenandoah National Park and by this time tomorrow I will no longer hang my head in shame that I have not tackled it until now.