Looking to continue challenging my hiking muscles, I decided that the closest/best high elevation hikes were 4 hours away in the Shenandoah National Park.
I’ve hiked Old Rag before, and remembered it as a decent hike. After climbing it again, it is absolutely fun and worth the time for anyone who hasn’t done it before, with a solid half mile of rock scrambling, elevator chutes, and caves at the top. While the summit sits well below the tree line at 3,268 feet, the summit boasts a wide open rock viewpoint. The new parking area on Nethers Road sits at 850 feet, so there is 2,400 feet of climbing in the 3.4 miles along the Ridge Trail.
I was up early enough to (miraculously) enjoy Old Rag’s summit all to myself for a full hour. Don’t expect that if you go!
To add more elevation, I looped down to the Weakley Hollow Fire Road towards Robertson Mountain. Here I enjoyed a first: No more than 50 steps in front of me a black bear meandered across the trail and into the woods.
Now psyched at my first black bear spotting, I turned up the Robertson Mountain Trail. This is a steep, constant climb, with 1,700 vertical feet in the last 1.5 miles to the summit.
The early clouds allowed me to take lots of macro and water photos, so I did.
Hike stats: 12.5 miles, ~4,500 vertical feet, 6 hours hiking
Camera: Fuji X-A1, Voigtlander Super-Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5, Fuji 35mm f/1.4, Fuji 60mm f/2.4 macro