Cold Things Make Me Happy and a Not So Cold Hike from December

View from White Rock Cliff Overlook

View from White Rock Cliff Overlook

I don’t know if it has to do with living on an island in Alaska for almost 7 years as a kid, or if it’s the extraordinarily old “British Isles” roots in me, but I love all things cold.

I’m the chick that will eat a hot fudge sundae in the middle of a blizzard.  I will also get stupid giddy and do some funky dance – much to Roomie’s amusement – when the white stuff starts falling out of the sky.  The girly part of me loves wearing boots.  And boot socks.  And leggings.  And leg warmers.  And long sleeves… you get the picture.

When the weather app shows me it will be above 50-degrees Fahrenheit (F) during the Winter, I’m generally unhappy.  On the flip side of that unhappiness though, more people tend to be willing to “brave the outdoors” with me when it’s above freezing.  December was a weird month in Virginia proven by the 71-degree F weather we had on 21 December, also known as Winter Solstice.  So, what does one do when it’s unseasonably warm?  Well, hike, of course!

“Philbert”, a co-worker of mine, suggested checking out Bull Run Mountain Preserve after I had a wee bull session with him in his office about my re-introduction to hiking.  I also learned that Philbert, back in the day, was in a orinteering club/group back in his college days.  You know, those days when football (American) players wore leather helmets?  Kidding!

Anywho, the fabulous Winter Solstice weather also managed to fall on a Saturday so I convinced Hiking Buddy to take a break from his studies and join me at Bull Run Mountain Conservancy’s (the group that takes care of the area) parking area at 10am.

For years I had driven by an old mill on Interstate 66 in the Broad Run/Haymarket, Virginia area. I had wondered about it, but seemed to always be on my way to somewhere when I found myself in the vicinity. Imagine my surprise when I pull up to the Conservancy’s parking lot and see it standing just a few hundred yards away.  Hiking Buddy arrived (on time!) and we decided we’d check out the ruins after our hike.

We crossed the railroad tracks and decided not to follow the 1-16 marks on the path; this is the point in which Hiking Buddy usually gives me grief for being a backwards navigator or “off the beaten path” future rescue victim; with the exception that I have pretty awesome recall when it comes to directions.  Instead, we did a series of trails: Starting with Chestnut Ridge Trail, meeting up with Mountain Road Trail, back to Chestnut Ridge Trail, over to Dawson’s Trail, over to Ridge Loop Trail which met back up with Chestnut Ridge Trail so we could hit White Rock Cliff Overlook.

Let’s just say, T Smithers was reintroduced to “elevation lines” on a map, and just what they mean.  Like Catoctin Mountain, Ridge Loop Trail is a steady incline in which I looked like that poor fish who found themselves stranded on land.  I believe I said “balls” most of the way up.  It’s the word I use to express my dislike or shock over a situation.  Sure, it could be considered juvenile, but didn’t Peter Pan teach us not to grow up?

In typical fashion, I pulled us off the beaten path for a photo-op with Hiking Buddy’s niece’s Flat Stanley project (does that make sense?)  I don’t have a photo with Flat Stanley, but I do have my shameless plug photo for Moosejaw Mountaineering – an outdoor store where I believe I could thrive as an employee given their knack for sarcasm and shenanigans.

My shamelessness knows few bounds

My shamelessness knows few bounds

We finally made it up to the path leading us up to the Overlook and the views all along the way were absolutely stunning.  You couldn’t have asked for a better day, better skies, or better company.  It’s especially true with the company.  Hiking Buddy expects me to be distracted, stop suddenly and without warning, and/or otherwise be squirrely as all get out.  Honestly though, who wouldn’t stop to see this?


Three-hours and some change later, we descended the mountain to check out the ruins when, lo and behold, we find the ruins of an old building and the old ice house (really, a shaft in the ground in which the people would collect ice from the frozen over river in winter, then stack it between layers of hay and sawdust to keep it insulated throughout the year).

By the Ice House

Ice Well

After checking those out, we made our way down to another set of ruins.  At this point my phone was angrily blinking a red light at me to tell me I was killing the poor bugger.   Finally, crossed back over the railroad tracks to check out the mill’s ruins, the storehouse and a few other remnants of history.

Chapman's Mill from the trail side of the tracks

Chapman’s Mill from the trail side of the tracks

Inside Chapman's Mill (I may have trespassed just a wee bit to snap this picture)

Inside Chapman’s Mill (I may have trespassed just a wee bit to snap this picture)

I've completely forgotten what this is!

Just shy of five hours later we were headed to our respective abodes to clean up and ruminate on the day. **I’ve never really been sure how to add superfluous photos to a blog, so I’m pretty much just going to say, “Oooo!  Look at my other pretty pics from the day!”



Dawson's Cemetery off Dawson Trail

Dawson’s Cemetery off Dawson Trail

River and Railroad

Standing on house ruins



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