Maryland Outdoor Club
Sat, Sep 15 2007 - Diff Shenandoah Hike (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Bryan Frank, Sandra Stabler, Sarah Davis
Participants:Can Kilic, Sandra Stabler, Kim Hanft, Maria Maranto Dickey, Jason Dickey, Stacy Murphy, Bryan Frank, Jen A, Rachel Evans, Jennifer Zanni, Rich Burner, John Meagher, Lora Polowczuk, Dennis Baba

Write Up:
Touted as the most scenic hike in all of the Shenandoah Valley, the Whiteoak Canyon trail was a temptation too great to be resisted for the Maryland Outdoor Club. Club members have been talking about organizing a hike there for as long as I have been in the club, which isn’t that long, but still! So as to satisfy that chronic yearning, Sarah, Sandra and I decided that we would take it upon ourselves to arrange a club outing to hike this most scenic trail.

One of the best waterfall hikes in the Shenandoah National Park, this circuit hike courses through two of the deepest and steepest ravines resulting in an overall elevation change of 2800 feet over the course of the 8.3 miles. As this is a circuit hike, the trail can be run in either the clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. Debate abounds over what is the better way to go, but it all comes down to personal preference. Option one is to hike up the Whiteoak Canyon Trail following first along Robinson River and then Whiteoak Run up to the Whiteoak Canyon and Skyland-Big Meadows Horse Trail and down the Cedar Run Trail following Cedar Run. Option two is to do all that in reverse.

As the organizers of the hike, Sarah, Sandra and I chose the first option. While both trails present views of waterfalls, cascades, and high cliffs, hiking up the Whiteoak Canyon Trail gives the more breath-taking vistas, gets the steeper incline out of the way first, provides a great place to stop for lunch, and it saves the waterslide for the end of the hike (more on this later). So we planned the hike, scouted the trails, and submitted the forms. Within a day of being posted, the hike was filled to capacity of 24 people and the waiting list had around 10 people on it. As organizers, we knew the hike would be popular, we just didn’t know it would be THAT popular.

As the day of the hike approached, a few people dropped out due to other commitments. The waiting list opened up and a few people joined. However, on the day of the hike, the group that had been filled to capacity almost immediately was whittled down to 15 participants.

The night before the hike, the Washington D.C. area experienced scattered showers and as organizers, we were worried that might scare some people away. But bright and early at 7:30, people began arriving at the Vienna Metro carpool location. As a sign of things to come, I was the first organizer to arrive despite my usual propensity for always being 10 minutes late to everything. With temperatures in the mid 60s, some of us stood around shivering (namely me because I’m from Texas and 60s is very cold weather) as we waited for people to arrive. Nevertheless, everyone had arrived by the threatened “we’ll leave you behind if you’re not here by then” time of departure. We segregated into groups to accommodate the hikers who were not going to participate in the after-hike events (the “party-poopers,” as we shall henceforth lovingly call them). We all eagerly dove into the carpool cars, turned on the heaters, and before 8:30 AM we were heading west toward Shenandoah National Park.

The drive out to the park was fairly uneventful. Carpoolers got to know each other. We learned stories about each other that we promised not to repeat outside the car. We made up stories about people in the other cars. Rachel finally learned who John was. All in all, the drive was fun but uneventful. Everyone arrived at the park’s eastern boundary parking lot off Rte. 600. Enough people had a Shenandoah Annual Pass or a National Park Pass so that almost no one had to pay for entrance to the park. The group gathered at the trailhead and introductions were made. Everyone learned everyone’s name because we told them there would be a graded quiz afterward. We were joking, but they didn’t know that.

Just before 11:00 AM, we set out on the trail up along Robinson River. Being the lead hiker, I set a pretty quick pace. I was surprised to see ev

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