3,268 feet / Class 3 / 9 miles, 2,600 feet gain
Participants: Nate, Isaiah, Justin, Corey, Lakesha, Ron, Colleen, Danae, Friend, Del, Steve, Brad
Some hikes exceed expectations, even when you think you already know what to expect. I had climbed Old Rag twice before, both times with the youth group from SMBC (South Mountain Bible Church). Both outings left me with very fond memories, and I was looking forward to this third trip as it had been seven years since the last one. My memories of the mountain were pretty accurate, but I underestimated how fun this hike would be. I will let the pictures do most of the talking for me, but I will add a few notes:
Low on Ridge Trail--Lush and Green
The beginning of the hike was all nice trail leading up to a long series of switchbacks, just as I remember it. We were taking the approach to the Ridge Trail as usual, as this way is by far the most fun to climb Old Rag. The weather was nothing short of perfect on this May day, and the lower forest was serene, lush and green–-quite a change from when we had last hiked there following some devastating forest fires nearly a decade ago.
There was actually more scrambling than I had remembered, and off-trail I enjoyed boulder hopping and climbing all over the place, as did some of the others. Near the summit we happened upon a black bear who was content to feed along the trail just in front of us. I never was able to get a clear picture due to the vegetation in the way, but the bruin came to within 50 feet of us! I had never seen a black bear in the wild before, and this was definitely the highlight of our day.
The sighting of the bear came at a rare moment when there were no other hikers passing or being passed by us. The trail is generally very crowded, but no one seems to mind because the hiking and scrambling is so fun, the scenery so exhilarating.
All twelve of our group made it to the summit with nothing more than sore legs. We enjoyed the views and relaxed for a short time there. Then we made the long but comparatively easy trip down the trail to the fire road. Along this nice dirt road some of the group encountered a snake which was thought to be a copperhead. We completed the loop in six hours, and everyone had a great time and a memorable day.
Scrambling to the Top
I lift up my eyes to the hills—
View from Old Rag's summit, Ridge Trail follows ridge at right
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth. -Psalm 121:1-2, NIV
Views and Scenery