I did one of my favorite hikes yesterday – the Old Rag Mountain in the blue Ridge Mountains of the Shenandoah National Park. The trail is very challenging but always spectacular as you rise to a 3300 foot summit (after a series of false summits and outcroppings). For those of us who love not just hiking but geology, Old Rag is a delight. The range was formed a billion years ago with massive granite formations. Then basaltic magma was overlaid on the granite about 400 million years ago and then a layer of greenstone formed over the granite. There was even an ocean to add to the geology. It makes for a tough but truly gorgeous hike. What always impresses me is how Old Rag always presents a different face and conditions — making no two hikes likes. This was no exception.
It was very foggy for much of the day, creating a type of Monet feel on the trail. I came close to a black bear after going slightly off trail and then almost stepped on what I believe was a large mole snake near one of the creeks. I tend to start hikes at dawn with the sun rising. I like the lighting and particularly the absence of other hikers. Getting to Old Rag however can take a couple hours depending on traffic from Washington. It is worth it. When you reach the summit, it is more than enough reward for the tough rock scramble up the trail. (I wore my cubs hat to meditate on today’s start of the playoff games with the Giants).