Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, Apr 25 2004 - Difficult Day Hike (Little Devils Stairs II) (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Jesse Allen, Rob, William Lyman, Michel Labanca, Malu Silva

Write Up:
Our trip got off to a slightly rocky start trying to find each other at the Vienna Metro. Between having several hundred marchers coming in on buses for the Pro-Choice March and Rally in D.C. that day, and the confusion of there being both westbound and eastbound parking lots, we took a little time to find each other. But once collected, we introduced ourselves to each other and headed out without further fuss to the base of the Little Devil's Stairs parking lot.

The hike up the gorge was beautiful. In just two weeks since the last MOC visit, the scenery had completely changed. The flowering trees were well into bloom, many of the ephermal flowering plants on the ground were starting to draw back, and other ground cover such as young mountain laurels, blueberry shrubs, and raspberries bushes were pushing their way up and putting out new leaves. Michel took the lead up the gorge and set a pretty mean pace, so much so that we had to stop several times and pause for breath, a little drink of water, and to shed our outer layers. The weather was pleasantly cool and cloudy the entire day, with a few brief moments of light showers, but at the pace we set, we were quite warm! After making it all the way to the top of the rocky gorge (which we all agreed had some wonderful places to rappel or rock climb should anyone feel so inclined), we took a longer break at the Fourways junction and recharged before storming up the ridgeline to the Appalachian Trail. By this point, we had managed to climb 1600 feet and had traveled about two miles in about an hour.

From Fourways, we took a much more gentle climb for the next 1000 feet up to Skyline Drive and the Appalachian Trail. Not being so badly winded from the steep climb now, we got to talk a good deal more and admire the signs of spring around us. On the way up the gorge, it was more a matter of looking at rocks and where our feet were going! We got in some social chatter about various events in our lives, from girl scouts to the joys of hot versus cold weather (we had two escapees from Texas in our group espousing the virtues of hot sticky weather over freezing cold, while those of more northerly inclinations advocating the joys of cold over getting steam baked). Once up on the AT, we took our turn and a quarter mile or so later reached the PATC's Range View Cabin where we stopped for lunch.

The cabin is at a very nice spot with a wonderful view- on much less cloudy days! Still, it was a good look back into the valley through which we had just climbed. After dressing back up when we stopped hiking and huddling on the front 'porch' of the cabin to get out of the wind, we had a pleasant lunch and continued to trade stories of past outdoor adventures. William confessed that he always either underpacks or overpacks, and as his first aid kit, three liters of water, a box of cookies, and flashlight all came out with the camera and jacket, we quickly worked out which way he erred on this trip. Michel, trying to summon warm thoughts, talked about the best way to make a lightweight stove from a tuna can, lint, and paraffin. Jesse stayed stoicly in a T-shirt trying to convince everyone, including himself, that he was warm. Marluce shared her experience drinking strong men under the table in her late teens in Brazil.

After a fine repast, we set back off down the AT and the Piney Ridge Trail. Strong winds, probably from Hurricane Isabel, had blown down many of the white pines along this section of the trail, and there were a couple of spots where the trees had fallen and leaned across the trail with just enough space for us to walk under them. Many of the trees still standing made ominous and threatening creaking sounds as we went through the fores



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