Monday, October 24, 2011

First Aid For The Sole

(Click on any photo to enlarge)
After our first canoe and camping adventure in June, which involved, broken wooden paddles, fish hooks, fingers and forgotten keys, I was excited when my friend John R. wanted to do some hiking in the Shenandoah Mountains. I recommended my favorite hike, Old Rag Mountain. It was a done deal and we headed out early on a beautiful, cool, fall, Monday morning.
We got parked at the lower lot and headed up the road for the upper trail head a half mile away. A fall weekday was perfect for John's introduction to Old Rag's ridge trail and its mile of rock scramble, which can backup in a major queue on the weekends. Except for me having to backtrack 1/4 mile to the upper trail head to retrieve my walking stick, leaning against the Port-a-potty, the first hour was uneventful.

That is until we reached the stretch somewhere near the 2nd or 3rd switchback. I stopped to catch my breath and turned around to check on John, when I heard a crashing in the underbrush. Not 50' back down the trail, a 150-200 lb Black Bear crossed the trail behind us. I yelled "Bear" and was very mad that I didn't catch him with my Nikon D40 as he crossed. John only caught a glimpse. Smokey wasn't in a big hurry so we had 2-3 minutes to watch him just off the trail.

The Old Rag ridge rock scramble begins after the trails merges into this open venue overlooking the valley below. It's a great place for a breather, snack and a few photos.
From here the scramble begins. Up, down, over, under and through.
By now our, my legs were starting to get tired.
And then it happened. "Oh, man." John said. "What now John? Is there blood?", I asked, as I turned around to see John holding up his right boot. The sole of his right, 15 year old leather Vasque boot had completely separated.

To the rescue. Out comes the Nalgene bottle wrapped with Duck Tape. It doesn't take long to wrap two 3' foot pieces to hold the sole in place. I say to John as I wrap. "I'm just glad there was no blood involved on this one."
We took a break for lunch at 1:00pm, about 20 minutes short of the summit as we both were running out of juice.
Our lunch view

The required summit sign post photo.
The return trip down the saddle trail and Wheatly Hollow fire road can be tedious at time but it is still a beautiful walk in the woods.

Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC), an all volunteer organization, does an amazing job on trail maintenance.
The fire road
Old Rag from below.
The start of the last 1/2 mile of paved road leading to the lower parking lot. 7 hours round trip. 9.4 miles. Three apples. 2 Clif Bars. 1 Nalgene of water. 1 Nalgene of Gatorade. 1 Cream Cheese and jelly sandwich on Wholewheat. 2400' feet of climbing and 2400' of gliding. All in a days play for a couple of almost old guys who cherished every moment and every cramp.

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