Spy Rock

We were in the Blue Ridge Mountains over the weekend, staying at a cabin not far from the Appalachian Trail. On Saturday we set out on a hike to Spy Rock, a point on the trail in Virginia with a panoramic view of mountains and valleys. We planned to search for a few Geocaches in the area, but were at the point where our path met the Appalachian Trail when my son realized he had forgotten to bring the directions for the Geocaches. We had left the house late, he seemed particularly tired, and we were starting to worry that it would be dark before we finished, so we gave up and walked back to our cabin.

(Geocaching is a kind of treasure hunt. Someone hides a watertight container and posts on the site the GPS coordinates and clues for locating it. Geocachers who find it leave the cache in place, but add their name to a guest list or leave a trinket to show that they were there, and maybe take a trinket left behind by someone else.)

On Sunday we tried again. This time, we left an hour earlier in the day. (I had been aiming for three hours earlier, but the teenager is not easy to roust out of bed, and we take what we can get.) We realized that he had, in fact, left the Geocaching printouts at home, so we went online, found the information we needed, and copied it down. And we set out on our hike. The Geocache we were aiming for requires a hike up some very difficult terrain, including bushwhacking off the trail. Given our utter failure the day before, I wasn’t sure we were up to the task. As it turns out, we could not find the spot where we were supposed to leave the trail — I suspect it’s easier to identify at any other time of year, when there aren’t so many leaves on the trees.

So we gave up on the Geocache and decided just to take the Appalachian Trail side trail up to Spy Rock. We arrived — weary, footsore, and wondering if we were really up to this steep a hike. The view at the top was worth every nearly vertical step! On the way home we considered trying once again to find that pesky Geocache. But the GPS signal was erratic, and we had no better luck figuring out where to leave the trail. Besides that, it was after 5 pm and starting to get dark under the trees. And thunder was rumbling around us. I convinced my husband and son that we did not want to get caught outside on a heavily wooded mountain in a thunderstorm at night, so we headed back down. Even without the Geocache, my Fitbit shows 9,321 steps for today. And 77 staircases, because it apparently cannot distinguish between stairs and a steep mountainside.

I’ll have more photos of the whole weekend later, but here is a taste — part of the view from the top of Spy Rock.

Here is the view yesterday from 3,886 feet up, at the top of Spy Rock, near Montebello, Virginia. The haze in the distance is the thunderstorm that was racing toward us at the time. It did start to rain before we hiked back to our cabin, but the trees shielded us from the worst of us, and there was no thunder while we were out in it, so we arrived back at the cabin safely.

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