Old Rag Mountain: Lightning on the Ledge

Some days the bear gets you, some days you get the bear. Some days it’s like you’ve been beaten and eaten by a bear. Such was Monday.

Calvin, Tiffany, and I attacked Old Rag Mountain. The most popular, and possibly most taxing, day hike in all the mountains of Virginia. I’ve done it before, which helped, but it seemed God threw more boulders down in the scramble … and made the last leg twice as long. Basically, harder and longer than I remembered. I recommended a few other hikes, but Calvin had his heart set on this trail, so we went. Me to my physical draining, muscle pushing, knee scrapping event. Them to their love bird stroll, simple hike in the woods, first time on Old Rag, never seeming to break a sweat, 20 something bodies I wish I still had, photo taking trek.

It was wonderful to see groups that hiked near each other, leap-frogging at times, encourage each other. It was a blessing to see Calvin and Tiffany encourage each other, talk and express their love, and interact without distractions. And I already miss the ability to look at my son, talk face to face, and stay connected.

Personal note of gratitude … we may have had to journey the 11ish miles of rock and mud … but Lisa was the hero of the day. She went with us and stayed at base camp (the parking lot). She did venture into Sperryville for coffee and a stroll, but since our hike was 3 hours longer than I planned, she waited in the parking lot quite a while. Text service was zilch. I love that girl more than I ever let her know.

On the trail … Old Rag is one of those that when you think you’ve reached the final peak, you haven’t. When you think it can’t get any more beautiful, it does. Higher and greater views were over the next rocks or past the next cluster of pines. Photo ops never stopped happening.

On the scramble (the rocks that you had to slide, jump, climb, crawl, drop off, etc.), there were a few times I had to just rest before the jump or slide. Calvin was the champ and took my Osprey backpack. Later I tried to reclaim it, but he was quite selfless … maybe showing off for her, or maybe she felt pity on me and made him take it from me.

On the way up, we met a foursome that was about the same pace as us. Three were Navy, and the 4th was a Navy wife. We also met a father/college-age-son. The father had an accident and hit his head. The three groups all came together to help each other

The pictures show the beauty, but nothing prepared me for the apex. We reached the top right as small drops of soft rain began to fall and refresh us. But the soft and light rain didn’t last. Lightning was seen in the distance. We took a few pics and next thing you know, lightning hit a rock a few feet away. The thunder and lightning were at the exact same time. We checked on each other and found all were shaken but not scorched.

Interestingly, I had joked about a mile prior I might need an AED, defibrillator at the top … God provided it.

Funny, none of us felt fatigue anymore. We pretty much all said, “Let’s get off this mountain.” The next four plus miles were done at the fastest pace I’ve ever done on a trail. The soft rain turned to strong electrical storm with a monsoon type downpour that penetrated every part of my being and made my waterproof trail shoes soaked inside and out. It was all down hill and much of the trail was like a free flowing creek.

We made it back to the parking lot, right after the navy foursome, side by side with the father/son, and with Lisa waiting and relieved with our safety. Struggle? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely. Do it again? Not till my legs can feel again, but yes.

Some days the bear gets you, some days you get the bear. Some days it’s like you’ve been beaten and eaten by a bear. Such was Monday.


Enjoy the pics … and be encouraged to spend time with those you love. And I love these two.

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