Last Sunday, my friend April and I went for a hike out at Raven’s Rock by Bluemont, VA, where Virginia and West Virginia meet. Another blogger had mentioned that he would be hiking there with a hiking club on Veteran’s Day weekend, so I thought to look up the spot. It’s a five and a half mile out-and-back hike exclusively on the Appalachian Trail, and it has an expansive vista at the top.
We got a late start and arrived at the parking lot at just past 11:30. We discovered that the small gravel lot can accommodate about a dozen cars, assuming people park snugly. Luckily, we were able to just barely wedge ourselves in without blocking other cars’ exits. We didn’t notice until our departure a few hours later that there’s a larger overflow lot on the other side of the main road, within probably less than a quarter mile.
This trail was narrow throughout, not allowing faster hikers to pass easily, and unfortunately for us, we began exactly when a (loud) group of about a dozen and a half people started. (No offense to my fellow blogger if you were part of this group!) April and I spent the next hour and a half trying to stay ahead of the group, as the hikers slinkey-ed their way up to the vista. Several people would pass, sandwiching us in the middle of the group, and then they’d take a break, during which we’d move on.
There was nothing peaceful about the experience until we decided to play a game. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s called Zombie Apocalypse. It’s really easy to learn. This is how it goes: just pretend that the large group of hikers behind you is a pack of zombies chasing after you to eat your brain. Now run! Run for your lives!
This approach worked for a while until I wore out on the pace and became increasingly concerned about falling or twisting an ankle. (And, let me tell you, my calves were paying for our little game the next day.) The stretch of trail was particularly rocky, and the fallen leaves made the path slick throughout. Once we slowed down, we switched gears, letting the group pass and waiting a few minutes before continuing on. From that point on, the hike up to the vista was pleasant.
At the top, the view was expansive, or at least I think it was. The large group was spread out on the rock from which I would have been able to really take it all in. Sigh. I know they were hiking to socialize, but their size and volume were a bit unwieldy considering the space available. We snapped a few photos, had a snack, and headed back from whence we came. April waited until we were at a solid distance before telling me she saw someone in the group litter by throwing a banana peel off the trail. Double sigh.
Once the noise of the group was behind us, we spotted two wild chocolate turkeys, a lighter female and a darker male. They approached us cautiously and then without regard. We took advantage of the situation and captured them, wrapping them in plastic, ya know, for their own protection. I mean, that group was right behind us, and they would have surely killed the poor naive chocolate turkeys. We had to save them!
The hike back we took at a slower pace and got to enjoy our surroundings. It’s amazing how quickly the environment changes. Just two weeks ago when I hiked at Bull Run, the trees were a vibrant yellow. Now, in a spot nearby, the leaves have fallen, indicating that winter is all but upon us. And, I couldn’t help but think, in a few short months I’ll be starting my trek in Georgia and making my way back in the direction of Spring weather and Virginia and Raven’s Rock and maybe even chocolate turkeys.