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Compton Peak Hike

Adventuring has long dedicated the Saturday after Thanksgiving to doing one final hike in Shenandoah National Park before winter sets in. This year our destination will be Compton Peak, with two outstanding attractions. One is an excellent overlook, where we'll lunch with a northwestward vista. The other is one of Shenandoah's most spectacular examples of a geological feature known as columnar jointing; looking up at this singular basalt formation from below is like looking up the bottom of a Saturn rocket. Few have ever seen this formation because the trail to its base has long been poorly maintained if not downright perilous; but volunteer maintenance crews from the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club have vastly improved the trail this year, and they have invited our reviews of their handiwork. We'll start our approach to Compton Peak from outside the Park via Chester Gap and the Appalachian Trail. Total length of our moderate round-trip hike will be 4.5 miles with 1000 feet of elevation gain. Bring beverages, lunch, and about $8 for transportation and trip fees. Meet at 9 a.m. at the East Falls Church Metro Kiss & Ride lot. For further details, contact Craig, (202)[masked], or: [masked].

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  • Craig H.

    Winter arrived in our area big time on this Saturday after Thanksgiving, but 11 well-padded Adventurers braved the freezing temperatures and gusty winds in northern Shenandoah National Park anyway. Soon after leaving Chester Gap, we took a slight detour to the Possums Rest Overlook to admire its view of Harmony Hollow and Dickey Ridge. We quickly proceeded on a wide and (mostly) level stretch of the AT to Compton Gap, and from there began our 500-foot ascent of Compton Peak. Upon reaching the summit area, we first headed west to a normally outstanding overlook for lunch. However, the rocky outcrop was far too exposed to the howling winds to be suitable for eating, so we retreated to find some kind of protection away from the overlook. Then we moved east to the day's outstanding attraction, the columnar jointing on a basalt deposit. The trail to this awesome geological site, though vastly improved by PATC crews this year, is still steep and tricky. But it's well worth the effort.

    November 25, 2012

  • Theresa G.

    Fun times!

    November 24, 2012

  • Jeff O.

    I didn't sign up(sorry) but I have decided to come on the hike today. I'm on my way. Just back from a week hiking at Big Bend National Park with a friend and thought I'd need today to recuperate but as it turns out I'm up for another hike.

    November 24, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    sorry. i am feeling unwell with a really bad migrain. and will likely not be able to make it tomorrow. have loads of fun

    November 23, 2012

  • Craig H.

    We have plenty of potential carpool drivers for Saturday's hike. Those of us coming by Metro to East Falls Church will be relieved to know that they will not be doing any scheduled maintenance work this weekend.

    The most important thing you need to know about tomorrow's hike is that it will be a lot colder than yesterday or today. High temperatures are predicted to be in the mid-30s, with blustery gusts adding to the wind-chill factor. So break out your winter hiking outfits--thermals, gloves, scarves, etc. We may encounter some icy patches on our trails, so be sure to bring sturdy boots with good tread as well. But at least no precipitation is forecast, and we should have plenty of sun.

    We will be making a pit stop at the Haymarket Sheetz en route for those of us who want to purchase one of their sandwiches for lunch.

    We should finish the hike by mid-afternoon and be back to East Falls Church before sunset.

    Hope to see you at 9 tomorrow morning.

    November 23, 2012

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