Mid-Week hikes are a luxury. While the rest of the world shuffles off to work, the Maryland Trail Dames were getting ready to cross the 340 bridge by pulling our gloves, hats, and layers into place. The crossing of the bridge would be the killer with traffic whizzing past blasting us with cold air and fumes. A necessary evil in order to start climbing Loudoun Heights on the other side of the Shenandoah River. At 10 am Wednesday morning it was bitter cold, yet bright and sunny, so we anticipated shedding some of those layers as we climbed almost 1000 feet to ridge!
The parking lot is a fee area, so pay the $10 bucks to support the NPS. The pass is good for three days, so after I finish this post I might head back for another hike in the area! 🙂
Once we crossed the bridge, we climbed the AT up, up, and up and as AnnaMarie would say “Suck it up, Buttercup”! As expected a few layers came off! Thelma, a fellow Trail Dame, suggested we take the orange trail first, then loop back on the blue trail. Great suggestion! The orange trail was extremely pleasant! It was a nice change from constantly going up. It is level and well marked which allowed us to make good time with little effort!
In the summer, this hike would have only the views marked on the map…two at power lines, then another at Split Rock. But in winter? Ahhhh…all the views you could want! No leaves make mountain hikes even more glorious.
The path became more rolling once we met up with the blue trail. We went to the left, headed for Split Rock. It all seems so easy…because the trail is going down to Split Rock. The view here though is worth it! and the women on the trail with me were so funny!
“Suck it up, Buttercup!” became a repeated joke as we met each hill with gusto. At each overlook we had a micromanager or two when it came to picture time…after being asked to tilt the camera this way and that way, and move to the right, then to the left I busted out laughing…”What is your job anyway???” Snorts of laughter permeated the air. 🙂 and don’t even let me start with the selfie stick…oh jees’…It was a good thing no one else was on the trail!
After lunch at Split Rock, we climbed up to the ridge once more. There were some sweaty faces in that last push to the ridge! Then it was easy, a little rocky, but easy sailing on the blue trail and a quick trip down the AT back to the 340 bridge.
In the whole time we were on the mountain, we did not see any other hikers! So if one is looking for solitude on this hike, go on a weekday. I have heard that on the weekends it can be crowded at Split Rock. I totally get that because it is such a great place!
We finished at 2:30 and the sun never really made it over the ridge. Still seemed like morning with the long shadows filling the valley.
Off to more chilly adventures! Hike On!