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Monday, January 21, 2008

Slippery hiking

Alex is in town visiting for the long weekend -- yesterday we went to Colonial Williamsburg (dovetailing with his grad school studies), and today we went hiking in Shenandoah National Park. Specifically, we did a well-known hike called Old Rag [pdf] that climbs up to a jagged (by Appalachian standards, anyway) peak. It's really quite impressive that this trailhead is pretty much exactly two hours from my house -- it feels worlds away.

Given its proximity to the metro area, I guess it isn't surprising that Old Rag can be crowded in nice weather. But today, the temperatures never got out of the 20s, and there was snow cover, so there weren't many people there. However, it was quite slippery:

Except for a few places, it wasn't that hard to get up the hill, though we did stop at a peak prior to the real Old Rag. But on the way down, I think I fell down six times.

On drive out there, I had to stop at a gas station to ask for directions. On the way back to DC, we stopped for an early dinner at a diner-ish place, and our waitress was the same woman who had given me directions that morning! She asked if we had found Highway 211 (her directions had been accurate). She was very friendly in both instances, especially considering her workday is obviously pretty long. She also let me substitute mashed potatoes for the cole slaw and chips that normally come with my reuben. In the rural Virginia style, they contained a gravy reservoir so large that I considered installing a small hydroelectric (gravylectric?) plant to take advantage of the outflow.

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