The Mountains are Calling, and I Must Go (John Muir’s Words, Not Mine).

Self-portrait in foggy glasses.

Self-portrait in foggy glasses.


I’m writing an article on local hikes and decided to explore a couple of trails on my day off. One of the nice things about having a weekday off is that you can do stuff without having to deal with weekend crowds. During my 4.5 mile hike, I ran into a small group of Japanese tourists and one vacationing family. That was it. However, one of the not so nice things about going on a hike on a cloudy, rainy weekday is that I could have been eaten my a giant, rabid black bear and my body could have stayed undiscovered for hours. Luckily, I didn’t spot any bears. I decided to hit a couple of hikes with supposedly spectacular panoramic views and was greeted by a ghost forest at the start of my hike. But it was OK. The fog and mist appealed to my sense of mystery and intrigue. This here is the initial part of Big Schloss on the Virginia/West Virginia border.  Very spooky…


I chugged along, nearly dying of lung collapse as I climbed up a steep incline. This is one of the other nice things about solo hiking…if I were hiking next to someone, I would have made an effort to breathe in a quiet and lady-like manner but I would have been miserable on the inside. Being alone, however, I was free to breath like a giant, rabid black bear as I climbed the mountain, and this made the climbing much, much easier. I mean, I was still miserable on the inside, but at least I had an outlet. The hike climbs about 1,000 feet over the initial 0.7 miles, so if anyone else had been on the trail, they might have actually thought a bear was near because I definitely didn’t sound like a lady. Despite the cloudiness, I was still hopeful I’d get at least some kind of view once I got to the summit. But before getting to the summit, I had to cross this wooden bridge. I probably wouldn’t have been a big deal on a regular sunny day, but on this particular day, I kind of felt like a storybook character beginning a perilous journey.

But I was still excited for the view.


I shouldn’t have been. I could barely see the trees ten feet in front of me. I felt like a character in Wuthering Heights or another one of those Victorian gothic novels written by ladies of leisure who lived in the English countryside and strolled the grounds in the arm of a low-level duke, engaged in witty conversation in a place of perpetual, low-lying fog and other-worldly whistling gusts of wind. It was quite pleasant, actually.


The hike description promised miles upon miles of rolling hills of foliage. They should really make a note that this only applies on sunny days for those of us too stupid to realize clouds obstruct views. But isn’t this a cool cliff? “Schloss” means castle in German, so I see how this hike got its name.


Aside from some impressive, lichen covered boulders on the summit, there were also lots of dainty pink flowers.


I’d made it this far so I decided I might as well climb to the very top of the summit. Imagine me, your rain-drenched, spectacularly rotund, profusely sweating, fogged-up-glasses-wearing heroine, scrambling up these rocks. It must have been quite a sight.


And when I finally got to the summit, I was greeted by this spectacular 360 view of clouds. Everywhere I looked clouds! Clouds and more clouds for miles in every direction!


Feeling only slightly disappointed, I reentered the haunted ghost forest and returned to my car. I am sad to report that my very expensive supposedly waterproof hiking boots are far from waterproof.

dark hollow 3

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking as part of my research for the article I’m writing AND as preparation for my trip out west. A week ago, I hiked out to Dark Hollow Falls at Shenandoah National Park. It was much sunnier during this hike. Dark Hollows is a really nice hike, but you do all the downhill at the start, which means you have to do all the uphill on the way out. This did not please me.


Along the hike, there were some really beautiful moss-covered boulders. As a little kid, I would have imagined the forest here was full of fairies, elves and other woodland magical creatures. Life is so great when you’re a kid. I really think I was at the peak of my creative powers in Kindergarten. It’s all been downhill since then.

Oh well.

Dark Hollows

We hiked by lots of little waterfalls.

Miller's head

About two weeks ago, I somehow convinced my brother to wake up at 6am on a Saturday so he could accompany me on a few hikes I wanted to check out. This at one of the overlooks at Miller’s Head at Shenandoah National Park.

Stony Man 1

One of my favorite hikes so far has been Little Stony Man Cliffs and Stony Man Mountain. I’m a little worried because this hike is rated as a “1” on, but it was pretty close to my hike difficulty limit. I guess I won’t be going on too many challenging hikes out west after all.


So green. This is from the top of Stony Man Mountain. I’m looking forward to going back in fall.

Stony man 4

Another view from the top, with clouds rolling through.

 Only five more days until vacation. I can’t wait! Oh. I had to quit the Adkins Diet. A life without carbs is just not worth living. After two weeks of protein-induced depression and multiple carb-less pity-parties, I decided it’s preferable to go through life prosperously plump than deprived of life’s carb-filled pleasures.

The Venus of Willendorf did not deprive herself of any of life’s pleasures and she’s still discussed in all intro art history classes to this day.

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7 replies

  1. Your photos are beautiful and the description, as usual, was awesome.

  2. I’ve often been inspired by John Muir’s words. Maybe not a clear view but beautiful. Each as something to offer. –Curt

    • Thanks! I hope I magically get in great shape within the next two days so I can do some nice hikes at Yellowstone/Grand Teton/Rocky Mountain National Parks…

      • It does take a little magic to do it in two days. But I have always been amazed at how quickly a body tunes up when it is faced with daily hiking through beautiful country. And you will be in beautiful country. –Curt

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