Monday, May 25, 2009

Stony Man Hike, Skyline Drive

Saturday was a beautiful day for a hike and I'd opted to join a group who were doing one of the picturesque hikes on the Skyline Drive. The group was aimed at the 50 year old age group and although I'm not there for a while yet, I'd assumed that since they were hiking, they'd be pretty fit.

Wrong. We started off well and as trudged up the stony incline, I relished the thought of a good work out. I was amazed when after only 20 minutes or so, we were already at a vista, and then astonished to see the whole group settle down on the rocks to glug water and pull out bags of nuts and snacks to replenish the 30 or so calories expended on the way up. I hadn't even broken into a sweat!

To add to the moment, one of the guys said goodbye to us all and promptly climbed down one of the steep ledges and started pulling ropes, pulleys and rappels from a bag as he was going to spend the rest of the afternoon rock climbing. I had a feeling that this was going to be an eventful afternoon and I wasn't wrong.

The views were spectacular and we stopped at 5 or so panoramic outlooks for photos and further sustenance intakes. The group was very friendly and I had many pleasant chats along the way.

One lady, Phyllis, was like me, keen to make faster progress and we spent much of the remaining hike up front chatting incessantly.

She spotted this little chipmunk scurrying through the leaves.

As we progressed, Phyllis started having knee & back issues which slowed our pace a little so a few other faster walkers caught us up. We continued as a group way in front of the others. Reaching a paved road, there was some conflict as to which way we should go, so we split into 2 groups hoping to reach the restaurant where we would all meet for lunch.

The road above is the Skyline Drive which runs along the Shenandoah mountain tops. We reached some log cabins where we sat on benches so Phyllis could rest and the last woman in our group continued walking promising to return with a car. After about 15 minutes, I noticed some ladies emerging from their cabin, and managed to get a ride to the restaurant.

We met the other faster walkers but were surprised to discover that we were still ahead of the remaining group until we found out that they had also run into difficulties. One of the women had fallen twice and was being escorted slowly back to meet us.
We managed to get through lunch without further incident and returned to our cars for the journey home. I've signed up with this group to go sailing on a schooner in June where we will be given the opportunity to be crew members on the boat. I'm wondering now if this was a good idea, but watch this space!

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