Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Hardest Dayhike in Virginia

A while back Backpacker Magazine published an article on "America's Hardest Dayhikes."  Link.  It is important to note that the article was written by Backpacker's "Northwest Editor," which begs the question, "what does he know about eastern hikes?"

Nevertheless, it is an interesting list, despite being ridiculous in many ways.  How, for example, can a 41 mile hike be called a "dayhike"?  He gives top honors to a hike in his region (naturally) that is that long, even though his #2 gains half again as many feet in elevation over nine fewer miles.  And, having done a part of the #2 hike (New Hampshire's "Pemi Loop" over Mt. Garfield, Mt. Lafayette, and South Twin Mountain) over two days, I can personally vouch for the extreme difficulty of this hike.  At one point, I swear I was hiking down an actual waterfall.  Check out the elevation changes and steepness of this trail, below.

No Virginia hike is listed.  Is there a Virginia hike that matches any of the 10 hikes listed?  If not, what is the hardest day hike in the state?  My vote would go to the Wild Oak Trail west of Staunton, as it comes close in numbers to the listed trails, at gains just a foot under 8700 feet elevation over 27.4 miles.  I have done it as a dayhike each of the past two Springs (once in each direction), and each time I swear never to do something that stupid again!  Link.  You simply cannot avoid steep ascents in either direction around the 15 mile mark, and it leaves you worn out for the rest of the hike.

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