Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recalling my first hike "in the mountains"

I still remember that last year of high school at Washington-Lee in Arlington, VA so well. On Thursday April 20, 1961 we had a rare late ½ inch snow (the same year as the Kennedy Inauguration Blizzard). On Saturday, April 22, with highs in the 80s, I went on my “first ever” hike with a high school friend (from the Science Honor Society) and his father. The friend used to say, “A hike in the mountains is worth any grade.”

There were stories that you could see the Bull Run Mountains (the Catoctins in Maryland, of “Blair Witch fame) from the “City” (you can see them pretty soon on I-66 once in Fairfax County). The hike was in the Blue Ridge, in the northern section of Skyline Drive, about 10 miles north of the US-211 crossing at “Panorama” (restaurant now closed), on a generic-sounding trail called Piney Branch, looping back to Piney Ridge, about 8-1/2 miles, looking East onto the Piedmont. Hogback Mountain is nearby. At that location, the elevation is still about 3000 feet, although the Drive drops as it goes north to Front Royal. I visited the place today, and saw that the park ranger station at the trail head is still there. Some things don’t change.

I even remember we stopped for breakfast at the Frost Diner in Warrenton on the way out. That’s still there.

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