Friday, June 4, 2010

Jawbone Gap Hiking Trail: Short but Straight Uphill

Larry and I are back on the hiking trail after a hiatus over the winter. I never realize how much I've missed it until we get our the hiking polls, lace up our hiking boots, and hit the trail. But we did last week with a short but steep hike on the Massanutten Mountain. We headed over to Fort Valley and selected a two-miler (Jawbone Gap Trail) up to the Massanutten Ridge Trail and back with about an 800 foot rise. It was grueling for these two out-of-shape hikers. We panted our way up to the ridge and then headed out a spur trail (.25 miles) to a view but never quite made it. The trail was rocky and required scrambling over some huge rock formations. I was a little worried about my knees and when we got to the second scramble decided to turn back. Good thing. I was in real pain going down hill and had to walk backwards in a few places or sideways to relieve the pain in my knee. But it was a great walk in the woods well worth the discomfort. The mountain laurel at the bottom of the trail was past peak, but as we reached higher elevations it was beautiful and in full glorious bloom. June is definitely a great hiking month in the Shenandoah Valley.

A short way along the trail, we came to this cross dedicated to "Backtracker Roger Heroid" (or Herold). It got us wondering. Was Roger actually buried there? (Probably not.) Did he die from a snakebite or a bear attack? (Mmmm - again, probably not.) Was this a favorite trail of his? (Probably.) I thought of all the scenarios I could create for poor Roger who apparently is no more, but is remembered by someone. So we prayed a Hail Mary for Roger and moved on.

When we reached the top of the ridge we were greeted by the orange blaze that marks the Massanutten Ridge Trail. We were glad to finally reach it and take a break for a snack and a big drink of water. It was a sweaty climb to the top.

We walked out on the spur trail to a large rock formation that we had to climb over to reach the next part of the trail. This photo of Larry on the rock doesn't do it justice. It was quite a scramble over the rocks to find where the trail was.

But the beautiful flowers along the way, made the climb worthwhile and a particular delight. I love the Mountain Laurel, especially the pink. You find it in white and different intensities of pink -- just like Dogwood. But pink is my favorite! If you haven't hiked in the woods of Virginia, you are mising one of the greatest delights on God's green earth.

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