Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Nov 22 2003 - Difficult Loop Day Hike (Signal Knob) (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Wendy Wickham, Laura Hustead, Kristen Buck, Young Kim, Jesse Allen, Rebecca Firoved, Meredith Gibb, Aaron Firoved, Colin Babb, Ronit Fix, Vincent Tsao, Michael Eppert

Write Up:
We commenced our trip at the Vienna Metro station at 8 AM with the discovery that there were perhaps as many parking lots as there were people meeting from Maryland Outdoor Club! This was further complicated by the plethora of other outdoor clubs meeting at the Metro for their own adventures. But after a bit of shuffling ourselves around the lots to find each other, and more activity on the trip leader's mobile phone than it has seen in the past year, we were off. Despite a lot of men wandering around in orange vests with big guns, we all found the right spot and set off for an on-time departure up the trail to Signal Knob.

Early in the hike, Aaron decided to prove his manhood by trying to push down a dead tree. He demonstrated that he is a man, and not a grizzly bear or elephant, since the tree was still standing afterwards.

Partway up the hill, our group broke apart into three or four clusters with wide gaps. We all stopped while Ronit had a "leak," but after repairing her waterbottle hose, things were fine. Fortunately, we broke up into groups again as not long thereafter, someone in the woods blasted away with his howitzer. To judge from the noise, the shot must have gone through a gap in our lines and been fired by a small cannon. We departed that vale at a reasonable speed and ceased to complain about failing to see any wildlife more complex than stick insects and wooly bear caterpillars. Being near a deer seemed like a bad idea.

At a junction at the ridgetop, we paused and as a group chose to take the short cut, not withstanding Murphy's Law in which a shortcut is defined as being the longest possible distance between two points. Taking the ridgeline gave us wonderful views from the top across Passage Creek toward Buzzard Rocks and Elizabeth Furnace: a more interesting hike and vastly better view than the original planned loop, and it spared us a long hard climb before lunch at Signal Knob.

Signal Knob was an attractive high point looking over the Shenandoah Valley. Our resident historian, Colin, gave us some insight into the history of the valley in the Civil War, at which time the Knob had been frequently used as a lookout point by both sides while spying on the valley. Mike found a commemorative plaque of a much more recent vintage which read 'Mt. Serenity. Hubert and Claudie enjoyed this place many hundreds of times.' An animated conversation on the interpretation and appropriateness of this memorial then ensued, most of which is quite unprintable in the context of this delicate document. Some personal history is just not meant to be shared.

After a good lunch, and a chance to watch a couple of circling buzzards whom we decided must be the aforementioned Hubert and Claudie, we set off on the third half of our hike. The route down was quite rocky, but mountain goats Ronit and Walter were not to be dissuaded from the idea that the view would be that much better a hundred feet further up the hillside and off they scrambled. During their absence, we broke out the emergency rations of M&Ms, leaving a few behind for the deer.

A short rest later, off we set again amidst profuse apologies from the group leader about having misled everyone half an hour before that there would be no more significant rocky ground to cover. Naturally there was still plenty left in store, though a wonderful view to the adjacent ridgeline distracted from the screaming pain of twisted ankles and throbbing blisters. Well before dusk took the last of the daylight from us, we found the parking lot and ended the hiking portion of our day. Several of our number then headed to other events for the evening, but most of us opted to go out for dinner together. Ronit was talked into joining us for dinner after a brief verbal barrage. Was it the prospect of a ride in a bright, shiny BMW? The promise of Vincent's Barbara Striesland collection? The chance to ride in the back seat of a car crowde



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