About a month ago I was feeling adventurous. No, not “let’s go walk down the street and see what’s at the end” adventurous, but “I’m going to go bag four munros in Scotland” adventurous. I think I may be well on my way to being considered for a slot in Bedlam.
In case you’re wondering just what a munro is, it’s a Scottish mountain above 3,000 ft or 914.4m. I’ve been following Steven Fallon Mountain Guides for quite a few months now; since I booked my tickets to go traipse about Ireland and Scotland for 16 days to celebrate making it to my 30th birthday (I wasn’t quite so reckless that it’s shocking, but I still have a hard time believing I made it this far). Sixteen days of me: doing what I want, when I want, where I want and how I want. To some, that may sound selfish, and that’s ok. But given my propensity (this was pointed out to me) of doing for others, I decided it was time to do a little bit more for me.
Anywho, in preparation for said acceptance into Bedlam, the Knoydart trip will consist of two days and about 26 miles. That means I must get my butt into shape so I’m not at the ass end, sucking wind and making an spectacle of myself in front of a group of people I don’t know, but nevertheless, hope to impress (or at least not wind up the trip casualty). To that end, my dear friend (heretofore known as: Gym Beast) has kindly provided me a “How to Kill Yourself without Actually Killing Yourself” gym and outdoor routine in hopes of saving an ounce of my pride by the end of April. God love her for her optimism.
I managed to convince The Greekanese that going out during a rain storm and subsequent ‘high water warnings’ was a grand idea last weekend. I mean, I’ll be going to Ireland and Scotland in April… it’s safe to assume that at some point I’ll get rained on. Right? Right. I donned my thermal bottoms, Columbia pants, hiking boots, warm socks, thermal top, flannel shirt and my Christmas present this year, a Mountain Hardwear Trinity Jacket (thanks Mom!!!). All wholly appropriate items for hiking in the rain…with the exception of my gloves, which are not water resistant. Color me bright on that one simple, yet very important oversight.
Unfortunately, the speed the water fell from the sky lifted a tiny creek into a fairly large creek running into the lake at Bull Run Marina Regional Park (the fail-safe/go-to spot for hiking as it’s only 20 minutes from home). I half expected that to be the case when we headed out so I wasn’t exactly surprised. Lord knows I’ve lived through floods so I know how quickly water can rise.
We took the Blue Trail which is the normal, somewhat longer and more rugged route than the Yellow Trail. When we hit the first creek, it pretty much said, “Unless you plan on wading through me, you best go around”. Back up a steep hillside we grabbed the Yellow Trail and Horseshoe Trail where they met next to Jason Voorhees’s house – the name Hiking Buddy gave the joint when we saw it the first time (a creepy cinderblock construction next to a small graveyard) – and rounded back down to attempt finding a crossing along that portion of the trail.
Random input: I’ve decided that all trails in Virginia have graveyards on them. A warning message from the State of Virginia or a coincidence? Hm.
Wandered our way down, found some neat stuff in the creek – how often does one come across a beach ball in a creek? Did a small photo op, then turned around and headed home after an hour finding creek crossings and potentially trespassing on someone’s land. We were sopping wet by the time we got back to the car. Cranked the heat and drove home listening to some pretty baller 80’s rock music. [End scene]
This weekend, a long weekend for those of us in the States, I convinced Hiking Buddy and The Greekanese to go back out to Bull Run Marina for a 5-or so mile hike. It was beautiful, but a tad bit nippy. The wind wasn’t so much cutting as it was an added addition to the chill 36-degree Fahrenheit temperature outside.
So…there’s this hill along the Blue Trail that I managed, in outright insanity, to convince Hiking Buddy to go up a couple months ago. The Greekanese sees the same steep hill and says, “That looks like fun! Can we do that?” The hell was I thinking bringing an infantryman out with us? On the plus side, the photos from conquering the steep, but short climb, turned out great.
We hiked down to my favorite spot, the Bridge, and stopped for some snackies (aka: snacks – not my word, please blame The Greekanese for this term). After snacking, we frolicked off the path toward an area we discovered that goes up a hill and runs right along the larger creek in the park. It’s stunning during the spring and fall. It’s also fairly easy to navigate so long as you aren’t one of those perpetually lost people wandering this earth unsure of which direction you just came from.
3 1/2 hours and a ton of photos on my new camera later, we hit the icy parking lot and stripped our outer layers, said our goodbyes and jumped into our vehicles. Had a few folks trying to kill us on the way home, but this is Virginia, so I hardly expect less.
The overall lesson I got from both hikes: I need better gloves. Nothing quite like numb fingers either from the cold and wet, or from cold and windy weather. Recommendations are welcome!
A few more pics just for S&Gs.