Friday, August 8

old and ragged (part II)

Editor's Note: I intended to post the rest of my Old Rag trip report this past weekend; however, I got distracted and nothing went according to plan, including a trip out to the mountains. I place the blame entirely on video games and a surprisingly delicious combination of pomegranate-flavored yogurt and vodka (no complaints here!). In any case, if you have not read part one and need some context, you can do so here. Otherwise, enjoy part two below.

The Blue Ridge Mountains are a physiographic province of the Appalachians, but lie just east of the bulk of the larger mountain chain. Bordered on the east by the Piedmont and the Great Valley on the west, the Blue Ridge contains the tallest mountains in eastern North America, the highest point being Mount Mitchell in North Carolina at 6,684 feet. The Blue Ridge itself is defined by two physiographic sections, Southern and Northern. Each section contains a National Park and is connected by the 469-mile Blue Ridge Parkway: Great Smoky Mountains National Park in the south and Shenandoah National Park in the north.

The Blue Ridge Mountains

The defining feature of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and consequently its namesake, is the bluish hue when seen from a distance. The blue glow of the gently rolling mountains, caused by the release of hydrocarbons, is a calming contrast to the sheerness of the eastern Sierra's escarpment or the breathtaking (literally) and deadly upper reaches of the Himalayas.

About two miles from the Old Rag parking lot, a discreet, obviously un-maintained trail casually breaks from the Old Rag Fire Road and disappears into the thick forest of Corbin Hollow. The Robertson Mountain Trail briefly parallels the Brokenback River before the river gradually ascends Corbin Hollow and the trail begins a rapid climb up the Eastern ridge of Robertson Mountain, one of Shenandoah's best kept secrets.

At 3,296 feet, Robertson Mountain is five feet higher than Old Rag and, fortunately, is devoid of hikers due to its more popular southern neighbor. While the summit can be reached from Skyline Drive on the west, the eastern trail is a worthwhile challenge: 1,700 feet of elevation gain in only a mile and a half. After three hours of hiking in hot, humid weather, a climb I normally would have sprinted became an exercise in dragging feet and taking quick breaks to catch my breath.

View from Robertson Mountain Summit

I reached the summit following a solid hour of hiking. Much to my dismay, the summit was covered in evergreens and every view was partially blocked by foliage. Not to be denied an overlook, I traipsed around the summit and found a small clearing that featured a rock outcropping looking over Weakley Hollow and Robinson River towards the south. Quite content with this find, I spent the next hour temporarily liberated from the chains of the real world, lying on the rocks and taking in the awesome expanse before me.

No comments:

Post a Comment