Old Rag on Thanksgiving weekend.

Donna and I headed south from Purcellville, Va after a great Thanksgiving afternoon with my brother and his wife, and a good Turkey dinner. Our destination was Dulaney Hollow Bed and Breakfast near Madison, Va. We arrived well after dark, but the lights in the windows of the old farmhouse were welcoming. It took us a couple of minutes to find the entrance, through the kitchen and found Louis and Susan, the hosts, with their family and friends enjoying after dinner coffee.

Louis led us to our ‘cabin’ which was an old barn converted into an apartment that could sleep 6. Turning up the heat we headed to slumber-land for the night. The barn was decorated with an old farm appearance. The living room featured the old barn workbench including a wood vise. In the bathroom the linen stand had old glass drawer pulls. knob The main farmhouse, though, had well polished Lightening rods topping the roof.lightening rod

Awakening in the morning we headed to the farmhouse and a hot homemade breakfast. Then we decided to head out for our real destination, Old Rag Mountain.

Hiking Upward description of Old Rag
NPS map of Old Rag and White Oak Canyon (pdf)

We parked at the “Lower Parking Lot”, and hiked almost a mile to the “Upper Parking Lot” which is now closed, large enough to only hold a tight half-dozen cars. Just off this lot and the beginning of Ridge Trail the first stop was at Old Rag Cache . It took us about 15 minutes to find this cache, and re-hide it.

We returned to the trail, only about 300′ away and headed uphill. The first couple miles were relatively easy, but the slope did continue to increase as our elevation increased. Instead of climbing straight up the mountain, the trail has many switchbacks, the Ridge Trail is well-marked with Blue Blazes and the switchbacks were marked with double blazes. I didn’t carry my camera on this hike, but I did bring my GPS, here is the track

The strange-looking spikes on the track are places where the GPS got confused, a common happening when hiking in forests even when most of the leaves have fallen.

As we neared the more difficult part of the climb the path became less dirt and more rocky. Bu rocky I mean rocks ranging from the size of basket balls up to yards in diameter, and we started into the area of “Rock Scrambles.” Our first major scramble required us to climb up about 2′ then crawl up a 30 degree slope and not slide back down. Not further on we found a sheltered cove to eat our lunch and decided we didn’t really want to make, the wind was getting lots stiffer and the temperature was falling. So we decided to come back next spring and finish the climb. But for now we climbed one more scramble to have a fantastic view, The mountain peak to one side, and valleys on the other three sides. Then we retreated down the way we came up and returned to the car about 4pm, in the valley the sun was setting.

On the way up we met a couple of hikers on the way down accompanied by a dog. “It just decided to follow us and seems friendly.” That did sound a bit strange to us, but the dog kept following them. When we arrived at the upper parking on our return the dog was sitting quietly. We both like dogs and our curiosity was whetted and we quickly found a tag on its collar. It read “I live across from the parking lot. I know where I am. Don’t take me.” And for the next mile to the car he followed us, and when near home I disappeared behind one of the nearby homes.

We are planning on returning in the spring of 2011 and reaching the summit, and possibly hiking the entire round trip. Maybe the dog will be waiting for us again.


About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
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