Monday, September 19, 2011

Old Rag Epic Hike and Climb

Since the Tubing in Harpers Ferry was a bit too mild for us we decided to head out to the Shenandoah Mountains and go rock climbing near the summit of Old Rag.

Our climbing books, as well as all the websites, stated that finding the premier climbing crags at the summit could be a very difficult task, especially during the summer, as the trails are heavily overgrown. We read these statements, looked them square in the face, scoffed and said "whatever".

So we all headed out, very confident that we would reach our destination with no trouble at all. I think you can see where this is going...

Preparing the gear for the 2.5 mile hike up to the summit. 

With gear equally dispersed amongst the climbers we started our trek to the top. This part of the journey went smoothly, boosting our confidence that this little mountain was not going to throw any curve balls our way. Reflectors Oven (the best climbing crag on the mountain, and supposedly one of the hardest to find) here we come!


Oh yeah, Old Rag, try to stop us now!

One more look at the book..."From the egg like rock hike 300 yards down the trail to the tree with three trunks. From here backtrack 25 yards and head off the main trail east onto a bushwhacked trail that may be impossible to find".

Impossible To Find Trail - WE LAUGH AT YOU.

Let the bushwhacking begin. 

Putting back on the layers to start the bushwhacking.

A light portion of the bushwhacking. 

We laughed at the Impossible to Find Trail, it laughed back. And it was laughing much much harder. We tromped around some pretty dense brush heading in what we thought was the right direction. We split up to cover more area. We crawled, we cursed, we thought we were on the Impossible to Find Trail. We were wrong.

We eventually found this very large granite slab in the middle of the forest. We rested. 

And then Paul and Jesse decided to try a different direction stating they would be gone only 15-20 minutes. 2 hours later...Matt, Ann and I were still sitting on this slab. When they finally returned, after a pretty rough adventure with no success of finding our elusive crag, we decided it was time to admit defeat and try to find an easier crag. So back to the summit we went to the easier to find Skyline wall.

We finally found a rock to climb! Looks easy, huh?

So with limited daylight left we start climbing. Matt did an awesome job setting the route. His first trad lead in years and he rocked it!

We all got a chance to climb the 2 routes we set up and then it was time to head back down the mountain.

After a hard days work!

The mountain may have won this time, but we'll be back. And we will find that Impossible To Find Trail!

Paul had his GPS watch with him during the hike (which still didn't help us find the crag we were looking for!). We downloaded the info into Google Earth and upon looking at our trek we discovered we were so close to the crag we were looking for (Reflectors Oven) but yet so far away...
Here is the map of where we hiked (blue line), where we were trying to go (yellow pin), where we did some bushwhacking (green pin) and where we ended up climbing (orange pin).

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