Another weekend, another hike! I’ve been focused on getting in at least two hikes each month, but I admit I desperately wanted to cover August in as many hikes as possible because I needed a distraction. And what better way to do that than hike…
This hike brought us to George Washington’s Dobie Mountain in Waynesboro, Virginia, and here’s the details:
- Almost seven miles total from start to finish
- There’s a 1,560 foot elevation
- Rated a Level Three of Five difficulty
On this travel adventure, my amazing hiking buddy Usua came with me and we invited a guy I knew named Kevin.
Kevin and I met and were close in college. Shortly after college though, we lost touch for years and reconnected a few months ago. Anyway, he found out I wanted to get into hiking so we talked about trails. Speaking of those trails, I’ve mentioned Kevin earlier in my blog, though you probably didn’t know. It was here on Hike One: Virginia’s Hightop Mountain. He was the guy with me when I delusionally climbed Humpback Rocks in flip flops only to collapse in tears on the ground in the middle of the path. Back then, Kevin and I also went camping (I think it is called ‘car camping’ when you drive to the destination, pop a tent, and spend the night?). In fact, here’s an embarrassing picture of us in college on one of these outings. Oh, memories…
Back to our hike: For the most part, this was the exact opposite of the last one at Emerald Pond. Let me stress: Opposite in every way opposite can be. There was no getting lost, there was no boulder climb (god awful boulders), there was no snake, or pond, or rain, losing our car, bear, or a disheveled map at the end. Almost sounds boring, right? Nope, and I’ll tell you why: First, Kevin is from the area so he was super knowledgeable on where to go. In fact, at one point on the trail Usua asked, “Which way do we go now?” so I answered, but she re-asked which I found greatly amusing (and gave her a hard time for) because she clearly didn’t trust my directions after our past hike. “We both know our limitations and directions is one of them,” she said which was both true and hilarious. Also, another reason this hike was appreciated is because both Usua and I agreed that after our previous excursion, it was nice to have something calm, very very calm. There’s absolutely no way we could continue if all of our hikes were like Emerald Pond. No way; I’d just up and quit hiking if so.
Alright, so we made great time and got to the trail around 10:00 a.m. which was awesome because we were trying to avoid the hotter part of the day.
In fact, Richmond had high ninety-something degree weather with a heat index of 110. That equates to near miserableness on the trail, even though I was still eager to go and get out of my apartment and out of my own head.
This trail is located directly next to Humpback Rocks (it even uses the same parking lot) and is easily visible.
The odd thing about this trail was that, again, everything was opposite. Since Humpback has a step elevation in a few miles, this neighboring trail was mostly a downhill hike. I had gotten used to the fact that you hike up in the beginning to view vistas then hike down to get out. Instead we worked backward — Hiked down for vistas and up to get out. Also, it was also a mostly circular trail so we didn’t go back to the same part much, which somehow seemed to equate to more downhill traveling. Downhill traveling meant major pain in my left knee. In fact, I held Usua and Kev up at points because the pain was really bad. I cannot remember if I told you, but I blew my knee out running a 10K. Then, stupid me then thought my knee was better the next year so I signed again and re-blew it out. Since then it’s never been the same. Anyway, when we keeept going dooownhill, my knee was really burning and got to be so bad that I wondered if I was doing more harm than good… and if more harm, then maybe I should cancel my hike next weekend… and maybe I should cancel my three-day hike, two day camp in the coming weeks? I even wondered if I continued to hurt my knee this way, was hiking a good idea to undertake? All of the answers equaled out to making me feel sad.
Back to what was happy though: This hike was part of my coveted Appalachian Trail (yes, I do realize in one breath I went from not being able to hike anymore to doing the entire AT but I’m not throwing my boots up just yet… I have goals! Dreams! Aspirations! I’m going to go down fighting [or with permanent knee damage] because I am focused!)
Also, I’ll hit on this later, but there was a shelter on this hike and it would be the most spectacular AT stop in the world. I was completely sold on it and made a mental note of stashing that tid-bit away for later use.
The trail though was really pretty in a different-type of way.
There were many massive oaks and other trees…
It was broken in four pretty much equal parts: two vistas, a place where the shelter was located, and even a plane crash site (more on this later).
The exciting news was that it took us practically no time to make it to the first vista.
The vistas weren’t as open as what I’d gotten used to but still nice and provided a great place to pause.
After we spotted the two look-outs, we traveled down to the shelter area which was a little less than a mile away but dropped 700 feet. On the way down, we saw something I was beyond excited about and that was (what I believed were) wild orchids.
I’ve only seen wild orchids once and that was in Belize. I’ve heard rumors that there are wild orchid fields around the state, but I’ve never been able to track them down. Along with the orchids, more fungi.
One thing we weren’t happy about though were the spiderwebs — There were SO many webs.
Because we seldom bumped into people (and only on the end on our way back), we were the ones clearing the webs from the trail. Most of the time, Usua took one for the team and broke the webs first as she was in front. However, there was one point where I was leading and saw a massive one strung between two trees straddled over the trail. I did just as Usua had done earlier and jumped back into her because danged if I was going to get caught in the thing. She instantly had nightmare-thoughts though of our Emerald Pond hike and thought there was a snake on the trail so she let out a loud “OWWWW!” of amazement slash fear. About thirty seconds later (once she had quickly scanned around and ahead of me), she realized there was no snake visible and asked, “Sooo… what are you looking at?” which made me laugh because she was on such high alert and that was her polite way of saying I was acting like an absolute fool with nothing there. And confession: There was nothing there, not even a web. We all had walked through so many that at that point, I maintained the thought of having thick webs and ungodly types of spiders on me.
Back to the trip down to the shelter: I wasn’t necessarily all for going at first because a shelter is a shelter, but I’m really happy we did. This was the most exciting part of the trail. First, there was Mill Creek, which we had to cross over.
Beyond that, there was this incredible tree that had roots splayed all over the ground right next to the creek…
Just up from the creek was the shelter, which again would have been amazing to use if hiking the AT.
We were nosing around the shelter when Usua found a travel journal where past hikers wrote messages and signed.
We leafed through it and that was probably the highlight of our trip. Some people wrote about bears, others the weather, and still others gave advice.
We found a pencil and wrote inside too…
Once we left the shelter, we scrambled back up the mountain towards the plane crash site.
This site made the hike a unique one. The wreckage from the small plane was was scattered across the ground.
Apparently, it crashed in 1964 and was tracked down a year later by hunters.
Reportedly no flight plan had been filed.
Afterwards, our hike back to the car was only a couple miles and soon we were done. Easy peasy! Hike complete, we went to Kevin’s house where he generously prepared an awesome meal and grilled out for us so we stuffed ourselves with delicious food. If there’s two things that make me feel better it’s hiking and food so I left happy.
Overall, this hike was a nice one. It was a different type of trail and it was great getting out with Usua again; it was also nice to catch up with Kevin. Further, the hike itself was calm and right now, that’s exactly what I wanted.