Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Nov 27 2004 - Difficult Day Hike in SNP (Little Devils Stair) (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Jesse Allen, Ellen Worthing, Alisa Sirianni, Timothy Ellis, H. Tran, Chris Bynion, Gunther Oakey, Julia Chu, Julia Begley, Emilio Ungerfeld, Bea Zheng, Kristina Kavaliunas, Patti Mohr

Write Up:
Our hike got off to a rather ignominious start even before it began with four cancellations the night before or early that morning with pre-hike injuries. (What the heck was going on at that Patapasco State Park hike the day before?) But those of us not nursing sprained ankles and overstressed muscles gathered bright and early at the Vienna Metro, and shivered while we waited for everyone to arrive. Julia's puppy Fergie ran to greet us all, and then we headed out in our carpool to the base of Little Devil's Stair.

Little Devil's Stair is a nice pleasant level hike... for a few minutes, then the trail quickly becomes a steep climb up a rock gorge. We all took to the scramble well, though some of the multiple stream crossings did challenge some of us and Kristina and Patti chose at times to be unconfined by the trail blazes and the recommended footpath. Ellen recommended hiking sticks, but despite them she found herself checking out the fish population. Emilio, our resident overachiever, managed the entire hike with a full-fledged pack in the name of preparing for a traverse of Mt. Massif in Colorado in January. Among the gear was a spare pair of socks, which were much appreciated.

Having climbed the hard-scrambled path to Fourways at the top two miles in and 1,600 feet higher, we took a break before storming the rest of the climb up to our lunch break spot at Hogback Overlook. The additional 1,000 feet of climbing was quite sedate in comparison as we headed up to the Appalachian Trail. On reaching the trail at the top, we all regathered for a moment where our fearless leader assured us it was twenty minutes or perhaps a little less to the overlook for lunch, which in fact turned out to be perhaps a few hundred yards from the junction, quite significantly less than twenty minutes walk! At the top, we had a wonderful view into the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain across the valley. However, it was chilly and breezy enough that once done with our eating, we headed off back down the trail rather promptly. Our loop on the Piney Branch Trail took us near the source of the Covington River, where Ellen again checked for fish. This brought us back to the Fourways junction again, and thence down the fire access road past the cemetery (no hidden meaning here) and a short hike on to our cars. Apparently, the chill of the rain and the slight mist falling in the latter part of the afternoon had us rushing back as we reached the cars almost an hour earlier than predicted. No one seemed too interested in prolonging the experience with an early dinner in Warrington: apparently the idea of getting home to warmth and leftovers was quite compelling.

--Jesse Allen

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