Snow Hike

So this weekend, with temperatures getting up in the 60s here in DC, I decided to venture to the hills of ol’ Virginny to hike Old Rag Mountain.  I’ve got a couple backpacking trips out west with my girlfriend this summer, so I need to get in shape ASAP.  So my plan was to push myself and make this a quick trip.  It didn’t quite work out that way.

Apparently, the snow that hit DC in mid-February has not melted on Old Rag.  At all.  This is what the “trail” looked like as I started out:

It didn’t help wearing my Keen sandals (I did have wool socks on, fashionistas are fainting right now).  There were a few other people out there, but I passed them all and was soon alone again.  Most of the first part was manageable in the snow, and it wasn’t too slippery.   Once I hit the rock scramble though it was a different story.  I promptly fell on my ass once, then grabbed two branches (hiking poles are for ninnies) that would come in handy later.  Old Rag has one rock scramble in particular that is challenging even on a dry day.  But it turned out to be no problem at all, so much snow covered the vertical climb that it was just a matter of climbing up the snow that now covered the rocks.

The rest of the way up wasn’t too hairy.  I made it to the summit in two and half hours, which I guess wasn’t too bad given the conditions.  I’d forgotten to charge my camera battery before leaving, so unfortunately my camera died halfway up.  I got enough juice back to take one pic to document that I made it to the summit.

The trip down was not as fun.  I could have strapped skis on in places and it would have been a lot easier in places.  I took to jogging down the not too steep sections, as it was easier than walking.  Whenever there was a switchback, it was often a close to a 75 degree angle of slippery snow.

Then I had a hiking first.  I had just given encouragement to two hikers that they were only about a half mile from the summit.  I was jogging again and then slowed down to a walk as I hit a pretty straight section, but for some reason had a very narrow “trail” running along the edge of the mountain.  My right foot slipped and my momentum took me down.  And right off the trail.  Weeee!  It was a pretty steep incline and I was able to dig both of my “poles” into the snow and use my feet to stop me before I got more than a few feet down the slope.  I clambered back up and then realized how much it would have sucked to fall further down.  Even if I hadn’t injured myself, it would have been tough going to get back up.  And most luckily of all, none of my friends who like taking embarrassing pictures were there to capture this.

Not advisable.

The rest of the trip down was uneventful.  As I got further down, snow turned to slush, to very wet and soggy ground.  Slightly faster descent even though it’s longer mileage.  All in all, it was a fun experience and a lesson learned: don’t hike in the snow with Keen sandals.  Luckily, I was already in the market for a pair of hiking boots, so there should never be a repeat of that mistake.

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3 Responses to “Snow Hike”

  1. tsblogger Says:

    also not advisable to hike in jeans!

  2. tsblogger Says:

    glad you survive the hike though… it would have been a good breakin test had you had your hiking boots.

  3. Sarah Says:

    Glad you made it out alive. Nice pics.

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