Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hike to Humpback Rock

Last weekend Brett, Lolly, and I headed out the Blue Ridge Mountains to hike Humpback Rocks. It was about an hour drive from Richmond, and the leaves were juuuuuust starting to turn (apparently if we had gone at the height of leaf season it would have been really crowded!).

The hike is at Mile Marker 6 on the Parkway. There are 2 areas at Humpback: one is a little walk around an old-fashioned farm, and the other is the hike that takes you to the top.

The sign at the trailhead says its a forty minute hike up the trail to Humpback Rocks, but its more like 40 minutes on the way up, and then much faster on the way down! Its a steep climb: about 800 feet in elevation over eight-tenths of a mile. It's a steep little hike!

The first part is wide terraced gravel steps. Pretty boring, but a nice little workout. WARNING for anyone who is hiking with a puppy: this is where the squirrels hang out, so get a good grip on your leash!

Then you encounter the beautiful handmade steps pictured above, and the hike starts to get interesting.

You go up and Up and UP, taking switchbacks and carved rock stairways until you are SO POOPED, and then finally... reach the top! To the west is the Shenandoah Valley, to the east are the rolling hills of Virginia's piedmont, and north and south you can see the Blue Ridge. You can also see Waynesboro and Charlottesville, as well as the parking lot from which you came and the winding Parkway.
At the top, we cracked open a bottle of sparkling Spanish white and feasted on GORP that was not actually good old rasins and peanuts but instead dark chocolate chips, almonds, and blueberries.

Lolly loved her first hike--she pretended she was a mountain goat for the most part. We were very impressed by here surefootedness! Of course she got some water and buscuits at the top.

Also very cool were the hundreds of names carved into the rocks--I wondered how old some of them were? Are we talking 1800s here? Or are they a century's worth of UVA kids declaring their love for each other and the beautiful view? At first I was a little annoyed that people would carve their names into the rock and mar the natural beauty, but then I started thinking about all the history and how I was sharing the view with so many people before me.Then we headed back down, down, down the mountain...

Through the squirrel gauntlet... our leash wrapped around a few unsuspecting trees...

And then drove to nearby Crozet, Virginia for the legendary Pizza!

We had heard about it because its in just about every regional guidebook and heard that celebrities such as Mohammad Ali, Sissy Spacek, and Dave Mathews make special trips for the pizza when they come through. We ordered a large cheese pizza and were not disappointed. Worth mentioning is that the place does not accept credit cards. They had a quite long list of toppings, but Brett was feeling like a purist. I was totally fascinated by the bulletin board of photographs from Crozet Pizza lovers around the world--there were pictures dating back from the 1970s to today, from the geographic north pole to Borneo to Crozet France, of people wearing their Crozet Pizza tshirts. Now that's devotion people!

We made a pact that we are going on more hikes, at least 2 per year now. In our 6 years together we have gone on 5 "real' hikes (it took quite a discussion to determine what "real" meant): Humpback Rocks, Old Rag, Franconia Notch in New Hampshire, Audra Park in WV, and Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica.

Any suggestions where we should go in the spring? Anyone want to join us? :-)


Michelle | When I Grow Up Coach said...

What a fantastic day & a beautiful view! The 3 of you are super adorable.

Lari said...

i want to go , i want to go!!!! have you been to the new river? or the gauley? go white water rafting there too =)

if you want to go a little further and make a weekend of it, go to hot springs, NC, (there are awesome camping spots) then onto parrotsville, TN (both in the pisgah national forest) where you can rent a cabin next to farms with horses! There are lots of great hiking and mountain biking areas here--they will even drop you off at the top of the mountain with your bike.