Birthday Retreat – Part 2

On the second day of our trip, I wanted to go for a hike. The people we rented the cottage from had listed a bunch of trails that were near and I chose the one to Kennedy Peak because I figured it would be a really pretty view. Plus it said the trail was “wide and flat” and “not steep until the very end”. That sounded good to me because I didn’t want to go on a strenuous hike. (Ha!)

I won’t say that we were completely blameless, but the person who wrote up the directions to these hiking trails was not very…descriptive. After driving back and forth for almost an hour, I finally realized we were supposed to turn onto another road to get to this trail (the words “turn right” were nowhere to be found in the directions). We drove up a mountain and the directions said to park when you got at the top, but when we got up there neither of us noticed a trail. So we kept driving. Down the mountain. But right when when we discussing turning around, I saw parking and a sign for the trail that we were looking for. Since the directions had been unclear about the way out here, I just assumed they were wrong about this whole “park at the top” thing, too.

First Hiking trail

One of the few flat parts of the trail. The rest of the time I was too busy trying to catch my breath to take pictures.

Initially the trail was “wide and flat”, but very soon it became narrow and very steep. I figured we had to be on the right trail because I hadn’t seen any other signs. So we kept hiking. It just went up and up and I kept thinking we were finally at the peak but it would just go up some more. The whole time, the wind was blowing so hard and the trees would whip back and forth and I kept jumping out of my skin every time I heard a crack, thinking a tree was about to fall on top of me. After what seemed like a day (but was more like an hour) we got to the peak…which turned out to be the road. At the top of mountain which we had driven right past. Now that we could look around there was clearly another trail with a (small) sign for Kennedy Peak. The trail we were looking for in the first place.

Kennedy Peak

My nemesis, Kennedy Peak (wayyyy in the background)

It said it was a two mile hike up to the peak but after hiking up the damn mountain, I was exhausted and thirsty and I had blisters and I knew I wouldn’t be able to do 4 miles and then hike back down to the car. So instead we just turned right around. Thank god hiking down is so much easier! It seemed to take about half the time as going up and we finally reached our car. After drinking lots of water, I felt better and decided I was determined to see the effing peak. So we drove back up the mountain to the trail.

Into the sun

It actually was wide and but not totally flat, there were some steep sections. It was certainly flat compared to our first hike and if I had just hiked this trail by itself I wouldn’t have had a problem with it, but after the first hike, any kind of grade, even a slight one, felt steep to me. But I kept going and going and this trail seemed to be much longer than 2 miles. I could see the peak in the distance and it never seemed to be getting any closer. Finally we got to the part that the directions had described as “steep up to the peak” and it was an extremely narrow, almost vertical looking trail that I couldn’t see an end to. If I hadn’t already hiked 5 or 6 miles I could have done it, but at that point I was completely exhausted. With great disappointment, we turned around.

Scenic View

Next time we take a trip up here, I am going to hike that trail again and reach the damn peak. It better be worth it! But I still got a nice photo (it’s actually a composite of two shots) of the Shenandoah River and the surrounding landscape from the top of the mountain, so that’s something. Plus, everything will be much prettier when we come back in the fall, right?

After all that, we went back to the cottage and spent the rest of the afternoon resting. I think I was in the hot tub for about two hours straight. I never wanted to leave! But eventually hunger got the best of me, so we ventured into the nearby town and found a great Mexican restaurant. I’m still annoyed that this tiny town has better Mexican food than we’ve been able to find in Charlottesville. I almost never order alcohol because I don’t like the taste, but I got a sangria and even got a little tipsy. It was fun! On the way back, we stopped at the Walmart and treated ourselves to a bag of oreos (and some band-aids for my blisters). It was a very nice end to a frustrating day.

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