Tuesday, August 18, 2015

50 Best Day Hikes Near DC: Old Rag

On the 4th of July Hal and I decided to brave a new hike we've heard wonderful things about since we moved here. Old Rag is probably the most famous hike in Virginia, and now I understand why. Old Rag is in the Shenandoah National Forsest, and is the closest thing to a mountain that exists out here, so it felt a little bit like home driving into the park.
We had heard the hike was pretty strenuous, and is 8.8 miles long, so we came prepared for a long hike. There are a couple of ways you can hike old rag. If you go up the more strenuous way - the rock scramble the hike can be a bit faster, but is much more strenuous than the longer more gradient sloped path.

We opted for the rock scramble, since those are usually our favorite types of hikes, and I'm really glad we did.
We stated out the hike in oppressive humidity as we made our way through the switchbacks up the mountain. There was almost no breeze through the trees since the tree cover was so thick. We were literally dripping with sweat.

And just like a switch the weather changed. We were probably halfway up the mountain when it started trickling rain. At first we didn't really get wet. The trees offered protection so we kept hiking. And then it started raining harder and harder, and we got wetter and wetter.
Around this time I started to feel sick. Not really sick, but lyme sick. I kept cycling through moving at a crawl speed, getting a burst of more energy so I started moving normal back to moving at a snails pace. We finally made it almost to the top where the trees gave way to rocks and everything opens up to a rock scramble, right as the rain began to stop.
The rock scramble was both of our favorite parts. It definitely wasn't always easy navigating the path. I literally crawled through short sections. There were lots of time we had to hoist ourselves up narrow cracks, down through narrow cracks and up stone steps to make it to the top.

But it was all worth it. I get so tired of feeling limited from Lyme that I wasn't about to let it stop me from doing something I've wanted to do for a long time. We made it to the top and it was just gorgeous. It sure felt like a win.
We decided to go back down the easy way, and part way down we ran into people that we started with, but they took the longer easy way, and we took the harder faster way. The easier way down was honestly kind of boring. For a majority of the trail it was just a gravel mule path. I'd definitely recommend trying your hand at the rock scramble.
5.5 hours from when we started and after buckets of sweat, buckets of rain and the most beautiful view I've seen in the East, we finally finished. This by far my favorite hike I've done in the area, despite what a struggle it was to make it to the top. I've heard this hike can get really really crowded, but due to the holiday and the rain we saw less then 10 people on the entire hike, which just made it even more perfect.


Selma @ Crazy Little World Of Mine said...

That view from the top is amazing!!! Glad you made it up there. It's beyond beautiful.

John Morgan said...

It looks fantastic! Glad you enjoyed it so!

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