We got up to the new lot only to find a sign saying that the old parking lot was closed and the road was reserved for local traffic only. So I turned around and came in from the south, using the Berry Hollow Parking Lot, which is near the trailhead for White Oak Canyon. NPS Map of Old Rag Area The hike from the Berry Hollow Lot is 0.8 miles to the Old Rag circuit, but it is through very pleasant woods that had blooming daffodils.
We chose to complete the dull portion of the loop first, taking the Weakly Hollow Fire Road back to the closed parking lot. I have memories of earlier circuits and getting to this road sore and battered from my ascent. The road seemed to go on forever! At the beginning of the hike it was a pleasant stroll, slowly dropping almost 850 feet in elevation over nearly 2.5 miles. And reaching the old parking lot (which was still open for parking!), there were a couple of porta-potties at the perfect point in our trip.
|The Ridge Trail weaves through large granite boulders.
|Gotta get up over that rock somehow!
1) Two climbers and a dog in the parking lot,
2) A ranger in a truck on the fire road,
3) A young couple at the porta-potties,
4) A family of 4 racing up the Ridge Trail, and
5) A man with a boy about 10 and a girl about 13.
That's it! It was very peaceful - not something that can often be said about this trip.
Lucy is about 5'2" and found the boulders to be demanding both physically and emotionally. When you are scared of heights, even going boulder to boulder can be exhausting. And the trail is more physically demanding, for a longer time period, than I remember. At one point we moved less than half a mile in 47 minutes, though we kept moving the entire time. We transferred our hiking sticks, removed my backpack and crawled our way over, under and through to get to the top.
|I hope that rock holds!
Even the boulders at the top can be a difficult traverse for someone scared of heights like Lucy. But we took it slow and made it to the summit where we gobbled down our Bodo's bagels.
At the summit we met up with a man and his two children. The boy was lagging pretty badly by that time. We exchanged cameras so that each of us could return to the bottom with a souvenir photo of our ascent to the summit.
The trip back down was less dramatic than the ascent. It was a 13% grade with a couple of day use shelters along the way. Views were to the north. My current profile shot for this blog was taken along the trail here.
We were back in Charlottesville by 4 PM, after a stop at the country store in Graves and a quick geocache in downtown Madison. At the end of the day, I did not feel as battered as I had been when I took the hike previously (I remember hiking this with Cullen and Suzie during the Fall before I was married, and have done it at least one other time, but not for years). My post-hike condition makes me think that I really am getting in better shape! On the other hand, that 17 mile roundtrip dayhike to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite this summer doesn't seem quite as appealing...
PATC Difficulty Factor: 219.6
Distance: 10.0 miles
Total Time: 5 hours, 22 minutes, including stops.
Steepest Uphill: from 2.7 miles to 2.8 miles after the old parking lot; 33% grade.
Starting Elevation: 1565 ft.
Highest Point: 3309 ft.