Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sixth Annual Hike Off the Pie: Pinnacle Peak

Friday was the sixth annual post-Thanksgiving Hike Off the Pie. This year's was a bit abbreviated because one member of our party wasn't feeling well, but it was still an interesting, challenging hike. We started in the Old Rag parking lot, which was more than half full when we arrived at 8 a.m. Seriously. We headed up the road along with many other people, but we left the crowds at the Nicholson Hollow trailhead, about halfway between the parking lot and the Old Rag trailhead. 

The Nicholson Hollow trail starts with a couple of potentially nasty creek crossings. Fortunately, we haven't had any rain in quite a while, so they weren't bad. We hiked a mile up Nicholson Hollow and then turn left, crossing the Hughes River, onto the Corbin Mountain Trail. As soon as you cross the river, the climbing begins. We saw a little bear in the distance (too far away to get a picture) at one point. When we reached the right switchback, we left the trail and headed up to the top of Pinnacle Peak. We definitely earned our pie making our way up the steep slope to the top of the mountain. Once on top, we found a nice spot under some pine trees for lunch. 

From Pinnacle Peak, the original plan was to drop down to the west to the Indian Run Trail. We made a slight error in bearing right a little too quickly at the beginning of our descent, which put us descending the north flank of Pinnacle Peak instead of the west side of it. The downside of that is that the mountain is pretty darn steep on its north side. We also got to pick our way across a few boulder fields. The upside is that it was really pretty. Once we started descending, we knew that we were trending too far to the north. We kept trying to work our way around to the west, but we were trying to avoid climbing too far back up and the landscape kept drawing us back north. In retrospect, we should have stayed up on the ridge longer. In the end, we wound up coming out on the upper Nicholson Hollow Trail (much to the surprise of two hikers who were coming up the trail). By this time, given that one person was feeling progressively worse, we decided to head for the car. We did about 7.5 miles and had a great hike. The bushwhack definitely still qualified as epic.

 The first crossing of the Hughes River.
 A fan-shaped fungus on a downed log.
 A single tree holding on to its leaves.
 One of the steeper sections of the bushwhack.
 An assassin bug on a leaf.
 The home site visible from the Nicholson Trail.
 The Nicholson Hollow Trail below Hannah Run Trail.
An inchworm. This little guy had been riding on my bandanna. Not needing an inchworm for a pet, I turn it loose on this tree.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A New State Park and the Last Trip to Old Rag This Year

I'm a bit behind on posting due to work travel. Last weekend was our last on Old Rag for the year. It was cold, but considering it is November, the weather was pretty good. There were a lot, A Lot, of people out hiking. Most people were in pretty good spirits, though, the day passed uneventfully. The leaves had mostly dropped.
Two volunteers hiking up the fire road. I love this stretch of the road, lined with Tulip Poplars
 Robertson Mountain, across Weakley Hollow from Old Rag.
 The view to the south, towards Fork Mountain, from the summit of Old Rag
 Once again, another crowded day. It was pretty late at this point, so we were trying to encourage people without lights to mosey on down the mountain ( have an hour of daylight left and at least two hours of walking...).
The spot where I usually take a picture. After a conversation with another volunteer, I went through my photos. I've taken a picture at this spot 48(!) times (I've probably been up Old Rag 60 or so. I didn't take pictures here the first few times I hiked it and there have been other times where I busy with a rescue or only hiked the back side of the mountain).
 Sunset looking towards the southeast
 November 12 was just before the Supermoon the following Monday morning, so the moon was really bright. I took a ridiculous number of pictures of it.
 A nice closeup of the moon.
 Another sunset shot.
The moon over the lights of Etlan to the east.

The first weekend of November, Michael and I had a number of things that we needed to do. We still wanted to do something outside, so we went up to North Point State Park early on Sunday morning. The park is just outside of Baltimore and only about 45 minutes from us. There is a small network of trails winding through wetlands and stands of trees. We were lucky enough to see a fair number of birds.
 A Great Blue Heron in one of the wetlands.
 One of the wetlands we walked along.
 Another wetland.
 Tall grasses at a viewing platform.
 A woodpecker looking for insects.
 The Chesapeake Bay from one of the trails.
Fall colors.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Old Rag: A few pictures from a very crowded mountain

We volunteered on Old Rag both days last weekend. It was a madhouse. The weather was good, though, and other than everyone in the tri-state area deciding to hike there, the weekend passed without incident.

The six of us walking up the Weakley Hollow Fire Road. The fall colors are late and somewhat subdued this year. Still pretty, though.
 The ravens were out, enjoying the sun and the wind.
 Up on the summit on Saturday.
 Looking north from the summit on Saturday.
 Sunset on our way down through the rock scramble
 Sunrise at our campsite on an old roadbed in the forest.
 Hiking up the ridge trail on Sunday.
 Oak leaves.
 The spot where I always take a picture.
 Sunday crowds on the summit. This doesn't capture half of the people up there.
Looking down the rocks scramble from the summit.