Maryland Outdoor Club
Sun, May 14 2006 - Difficult Day Hike - Little Devils Stair, SNP (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Adam Miller, Rafey Subhani, Ian Wright, Jesse Allen, Leo Seung, Kate Hicks, Saki Saki

Write Up:
We got off to a reasonably prompt start at the Vienna Metro, with almost everyone finding their way to the right spot the first time, which always seems to be a challenge at that particular car pool location. Our drive out was moderately uneventful, though we did take advantage of the 15 cent a gallon cheaper gasoline in rural Virgina compared to suburban Maryland! Or perhaps it was just any excuse to break away from learning about the grammar of swallows, a topic of conversation brought up in one of the two cars.

After regrouping our two cars at the trailhead, we switched into hiking gear, paid our Park Service entrance fees, and headed up the trail. An unnamed member of the team managed to immediately misstep in the very first stream crossing (all of perhaps 100 feet into the trail), demonstrating the dangers of hiking and eating a breakfast bar at the same time while jumping between stepping stones on a stream.

The weather stayed pleasant and mildly cool for most of the first hour or so as we climbed up the steep rocky gorge, which made for pleasant hiking. However, it was a hard and steep enough climb that everyone was soaked to some degree with sweat by reaching the top of the gorge at Fourways. Everyone except Kate, that is, whose stay dry mesh shirt became the source of great envy and predicted future sales revenue for outdoors stores in the area as we all go to get one of our own. Saki pulled out a flexible Frisbee-like object to toss around as we waited for the last hikers to make it up the last part of the gorge: it was a particularly hard climb and while we stayed reasonably well together until the last quarter mile at the top, the less mountain goat types found the going rough enough to justify a slower pace. Fortunately with this trail, 75% of the total effort is complete when you make it to Fourways: 1600 of 2600 feet of climbing is done, and all trails from here proceed on moderately gentle slopes.

Once rested and regathered, and looking at fair weather, we opted to continue up to Hogback Overlook where we took an early lunch break. However, the weather quickly went from pleasant to grey while we ate, and when the organizer admitted that the one place he had mentioned he did not want to go if there was a thunderstorm was, in fact, the exact spot where we were eating lunch… well, a little thunder in the valley convinced us not to linger long and we headed down the Appalachian Trail south towards Range View Cabin to pick up our trail down the mountain again.

We had made it most of the way along the AT to our branch when the threat of rain turned to the reality, and we went into our “equipment testing phase” of the hike, as Saki put it. Even ever-dry Kate couldn’t keep up with the rain, and all of us got slightly to much more than slightly wet during the rest of the hike. First time hiker with MOC Rafey got a taste of what an MOC hike is like when conditions turn on us: still fun, but not quite what we all signed up for. On the other hand, the heavenly rinse cycle did wash out most of Ian’s coffee spill.

Even rain loving Stephanie was rethinking her affections by the time we got down the ridgeline, so instead of opting for a longer hike as originally advertised, we cut back to Fourways and went past the old cemetery some miles down the trail near the Little Devils Stair parking lot. By the time we got back to the cars, we were all pretty much universally ready to be done and changed into such dry clothes as we each could find. Shedding wet socks and boots was quite a pleasant change. It being about 3 in the afternoon, we opted to skip having dinner in Warrenton especially as sodden hikers on Mothers Day might not get the warmest of welcomes.

Weather not withstanding, it was a fun and successful hike. A few hikers got to

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