Sunday, November 20, 2011

Corbin Mountain and Robertson Mountain: A Sunset Hike

We got a rather late start on Saturday.  We had to pick up our weekly vegetable box from the local farmers' market before we left town and our friend was a few minutes late.  We did not start hiking until after 11:30 a.m.  This hike, like the one we did two weeks ago, starts at the Old Rag Fee Station.  The station was predictably busy, but we left the crowd when we turned off on the trail to Nicholson Hollow.  We hiked the mile to the junction with the Corbin Mountain Trail, which is one of the few trails we had not hiked in the area.  We took a left on Corbin Mountain, crossed the Hughes River, and took a quick break for lunch. 
Less than a mile up the trail, we spotted a small waterfall on a tributary of the Hughes River, just off the trail.   There was an old footpath leading to the top of it, but getting below it involved a scramble down the ravine.  Below the first waterfall was a second, smaller cascade, shown above, so I scrambled down to it, and managed to grab some greenbriar in the process.

Once back on trail, we began the serious climbing.  Hannah Run and Robertson Mountain Trails get all the attention for being difficult climbs, but the Corbin Mountain Trail (below) is no slouch.  Although not quite as steep as either of those, it is plenty steep in places and the climbing is sustained over a longer distance.  The trail wound around, through a pretty little valley with the ruins of an old farm, before climbing again.  Several times, we thought we were at the top of the ridge, only to turn a corner and find the trail ascending a slope in front of us.  The trail finally leveled out and we reached the junction with the Indian Run Trail. 

Since the days are so short right now, even though it was only 3 p.m., the sun was already low in the sky.  It was apparent that we were going to be hiking out in the dark, but we wanted to finish the Robertson Mountain trail while we still had some light.  We hurried up the trail to the junction with the Old Rag Fire Road, where we turned left towards the Robertson Mountain Trail. 

The climb to the summit of Robertson Mountain from the Weakley Hollow Fire Road is one of the steepest in the park, but coming from the Old Rag Fire road, it is a quick, pretty moderate climb through mountain laurel of less than a mile.  I love Robertson Mountain.  The summit has a nice view of Old Rag and Weakley Hollow, there are a few rocks to scramble around on, and few people hike it.  We spent quite a bit of time taking pictures of the sunset.  Of course, then we had to descend that steep, leaf covered, rocky trail in the fading light.  We went as fast as we could, which wasn't that fast, and just made it to the Weakley Hollow Fire Road as it got too dark to see the trail easily.
 An old tree on the summit of Robertson.
Bootshot over Weakley Hollow.
Fork Mountain from the summit of Robertson.

Dried Hylotelephium telephioides (Wild Live-Forever) on Robertson
Looking north from Robertson towards the Hazel Mountain area.
Old Rag in the fading light on the way down the Robertson Trail.

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