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.

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