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Low Mileage: Shenandoah Loop: Cedar Run, Hawksbill, Stony Man, and Old Rag

Hit several of the highlights of Shenandoah National Park ... in the dead of winter!

We'll meet up at the Vienna Metro station at 8am and drive out to Shenandoah, parking the cars at the trailhead for White Oak Canyon and Cedar Run. From there, we'll climb from the base of the Shenandoah to the summit of Hawksbill--the highest point in the park at about 4,050 ft. This is one of the steepest climbs in the park and one of the most rewarding. The waterfalls along Cedar Run are some of the prettiest (perhaps they'll be in ice) and the view from Hawksbill is one of the few 360 degree views in Virginia. From Hawksbill, we'll descend, grab the AT, and walk north to Stony Man, bag another peak, and then descend the Nicholson Hollow Trail to where it intersects with the Hot Short Mountain Trail. There, we'll camp for the night, awaking early to walk down to Nethers and do the pre-dawn ascent of Old Rag in time for sunrise. After a cup of coffee at the summit, we'll descend the far side, take a left on the fire road and reach the cars.

I'll need to figure out the exact mileage for this trip, but I'll guess that it's in the mid-20s, with most of the mileage coming on Saturday. While this isn't a ton of mileage, there is a lot of climbing. Cedar Run plus Old Rag will make for a respectable weekend.

It's also in the winter, with very short days. It could be quite cold, and there are no fires permitted in SNP. You should have good winter gear and be prepared for ice, as well as for walking in the dark. When we did Old Rag last winter, it was quite an icy climb, and the descent was even worse (I wished I had brought micro-spikes). We had the very popular summit entirely to ourselves.

You should consider this a challenging trip. We may have to adjust if the weather seems very bad.

Please sign up. I'll screen you if we've not hiked together before. I do that not to be a jerk but to ensure everyone's safety and enjoyment. I'll limit the trip to ten backpackers.

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  • Mike K.

    Hi Michael Martin, I will gladly send you that picture. What is your e-mail address?

    January 15, 2013

    • Mike K.

      The resolution is off but I think it looks nice (fun).

      January 16, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Even as it is, I think it looks better than the default setting. I'm trying to fix the resolution and the sizing.

      January 16, 2013

  • Noah O.

    Hi Michael, I can not seem to find a link to the trip report. How can I access it?

    1 · January 15, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Trip report is up! Feel free to chime in!

    January 14, 2013

  • Brian

    One of those cases where low mileage can still be a challenge! A great group of people on this trip who proved they were a match for backpacking the elevation to be found in Shenandoah. And 70% new to DC UL. Amazing! Fun climbs and awesome views topped it off.

    January 13, 2013

  • giuseppe b.

    Great group with nice pepole! exceptional trip!

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • Denise M.

    This was my first backpacking outing EVER. As you all know, hiking & camping are a good part of my resume, BUT, absolutely NOTHING will ever compare to UL backpacking!! I'm so glad to be a part of the group, the hiking/backpacking this weekend was incredible, challenging, & with great people.

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • Noah O.

    What a great weekend with great people, thanks again

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • Mike K.

    This one will go down in the memory books. I learned more about how to backpack light with this crew this weekend then I did in all my 25 years of extensive backpacking combined. Everyone was fun and supportive. Will be back for sure! I am putting pics on fb. For everyone that went, I have added everyone I could find on fb. Please add me as a friend if you would like to trade pictures.

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • Noah O.

    Beautiful!

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • MikeVW

    Low mileage, but high intensity! Great group of people and some of the best views I've ever seen. Also saw my first bear, and will definitely hit this trail again soon!

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Great group! Great hike! Beautiful weather! Trip report and lots of photos coming!

    1 · January 13, 2013

  • Mike K.

    On my way. If you need to reach me. [masked]-8467. I thought our meet time was 8:30. If you need to leave without me. I understand and will meet you at trail head. But, I am trying to be at Vienna metro on time.

    January 12, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Well, I continue to hear dire warnings of ice. The ranger says that with the warm temperatures, the snow is melting and then re-freezing. I am skeptical, but I could certainly see some ice building up on the north side of Hawksbill and the north west side of Old Rag. I'll bring my ax again (sigh!). Everyone one has micro-spikes or some form of traction device, yes? If it is really icy we can re-route, especially around the north face of Hawksbill.

    January 10, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Great, Giuseppe! Glad you're joining us. I don't think it will be that bad, but it's excellent to have someone with your alpine experience to join us.

      January 10, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Yes, Denise, you're picking quite a weekend for your first backpacking night in the woods. You'll be bragging about that for a long time to come!

      1 · January 10, 2013

  • Mike K.

    Hi guys. I'm trying to plan my Sunday schedule. After reading the itinerary it looks like we will be back in nova by 2-3pm. Is this a safe assumption. I need to schedule a work meeting Sunday evening that I have to be at. If I say 5pm, will this give me enough time to get home, shower, change, etc.? Thanks.

    January 10, 2013

    • Michael M.

      Yes, 3pm is fair, I think, even if we do Robertson and stop at the pub. We be up quite early Sunday morning.

      1 · January 10, 2013

  • Michael M.

    http://goo.gl/maps/DzeLI

    Please note the north lot of Vienna. People get confused.

    January 10, 2013

  • Michael M.

    I am hearing rumors of there still being ice up there, so please bring micro-spikes and poles.

    January 10, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Hey guys, do not kid yourself or return your winter items yet! Denise and I (and two other friends), just climbed Leading Ridge and we had use an ice ax to cut steps. Honestly, it was a course in basic cramponing, with microspikes (I discovered, at a very awkward moment, that my new winter boots won't fit my crampons!). Took us 2 hours to cover 1.25 miles. Skyline Drive and the AT were under a sheet of ice. We reached White Oak Canyon, and had a very pleasant descent. 12.5 miles in 5h20m (yes, after Leading Ridge, we were able to go quite fast), but don't underestimate how much wintery precipitation is in SNP right now. Next week, much of it will be melted, but we'll be walking in at least three spots where the ice lingers (Cedar Run (climbing), back of Hawksbill (traverse), back of Old Rag (descent)). Microspikes are a necessity. I couldn't believe we were cutting steps in SNP.

    1 · January 6, 2013

    • Michael M.

      I wouldn't either, usually, of course. I was checking on (spying?) on the Washington Backpackers strenuous day hike in the same general area, and saw that they reported icy conditions. I chatted with them about it and, knowing that Leading Ridge (given its steepness and its location) would be about as bad as anything, decided to bring some heavier stuff. Honestly, for that 1.25 miles, if we had all worn full plastic boots with 12-point crampons and each had an ax, we would have been perfectly geared. After that, it was a much more normal situation.

      1 · January 9, 2013

    • Denise M.

      Hahaha!!! AT wasn't very favorable either...

      January 9, 2013

  • Mike K.

    Hi everyone. Would it be possible to catch a ride with someone from the Vienna station? My car just broke down and is in the shop. I will have it back by this weekend but I will not be comfortable to take it on the highway. Please let me know.

    10-4 on Denise not needing my sleeping bag anymore.

    January 8, 2013

    • Mike K.

      You guys are awesome.

      1 · January 8, 2013

    • Denise M.

      Agreed!! :)

      January 8, 2013

  • Denise M.

    Winter Backpacking discussions is pulling me in. Haha!! Having a difficult time stopping reading. @Noah, I might be able to meet you depending upon where abouts you jump off the beltway, if, that is, you are willing, & I am able!

    January 8, 2013

  • Noah O.

    I loop around Baltimore on the beltway then over to Harpers Ferry and the down to SNP

    1 · January 7, 2013

  • Denise M.

    @Noah, what roads are you taking down to Vienna? My car is iffy at best & I'm concerned to take it out too far. Maybe I can hook up with you somewhere along your way down. I'm in Westminster, MD, close to Gettysburg. Lots of family in Meyersdale, PA. Just trying not to break down on way to Vienna, which is 90 miles away from me...

    January 7, 2013

  • Noah O.

    Thanks for the trail updates guys. This will be a fun weekend! If anybody needs a ride from the Philly area let me know.

    1 · January 7, 2013

  • Michael M.

    @MikeVW ... Were you planning to drive from Vienna. I think we have six backpackers rolling from there?

    January 7, 2013

  • Denise M.

    It was awesome!! Thank you Michael!! What he says is true. TODAY was most definitely an adventure, to be sure!! LOVED it! :D

    January 6, 2013

  • Noah O.

    63 degrees! Did anybody tell the Shennies that it is the middle of winter!?!?

    1 · January 6, 2013

  • MikeVW

    Predicted high of 63 degrees next Saturday!? Guess I can return all of my winter gear...

    January 6, 2013

  • Denise M.

    THIS is THE best. Love this group. Thank you, you all are great!

    January 5, 2013

  • Michael M.

    @Mike Korin ... I think Denise has been reading our winter backpacking discussion forum, where we caution against using bladders as they tend to freeze. The point is valid, but I don't think it will be that cold next weekend. Even if it is, I have lots of wide-mouth Nalgenes. They are heavy (and I don't use them in the other seasons), but in winter they are okay. I have a brand-new Hunersdorf bottle to play with ... But the temps look very mild for next weekend.

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Denise M.

    @Mike, check out discussions on the page up top (home page). It's about winter camping. Michael says water most likely won't freeze this trip, weather looking good. :)

    January 5, 2013

  • Mike K.

    I can bring a sleeping bag for Denise. I don't know what it is rated at but I one slept in it at about 19 degrees and i was fine. It is a little bit bigger so if you have a compression sack you might want to bring that but no big deal. Michael Martin, What kind of water bottles were you guys talking about and suggesting?

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Michael M.

    As I think about it, Denise, I'm going to bring a fairly good backpack for you to try tomorrow morning (Denise is scouting something with me). If Mike Korin has a extra bag suitable for winter, that would do the trick, I think.

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Denise M.

    Ok. Thank you! :)

    January 5, 2013

  • Michael M.

    @Denise, I can cover you for most everything, I think, including bottles. We'll discuss this Monday. The temperatures look very mild this coming weekend. You could use your bladder. It's just icy right now.

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Denise M.

    Pat will probably let me borrow his Microspikes for this backpack. I might be able to get a few things to make sure I don't freeze to death, lol!! :)

    January 5, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Guys, if you don't have micro-spikes or crampons, you should probably pick them up before we do this. Micro spikes will be fine.

    January 5, 2013

  • Denise M.

    @Mike, thank you very much! And @Michael, indeed. Gear is a problem. I don't have a backpack! I read the discussion notes on winter Backpacking written in Nov. & got a lot out of it, the water bottles, I don't have. Saw some on the hike today. I just don't want to lose my momentum. :)

    January 5, 2013

  • Mike K.

    Hi Denise. This will be my first trip with the group but I have a lot of gear if there something you need to borrow. I might even have another 0° bag and backpack. Let me know if I can help out.

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Michael M.

    @ Denise, I think we can make it happen, but we need to discuss your gear ASAP.

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Denise M.

    Put myself on waiting list, but still in need of certain gear. Really need to jump in & run with it, but I doubt this one, as much as I would LOVE to be part of it, is do-able just yet, mainly because of lack of gear. Excellent continuation to get in shape though. Elevation! :)

    January 5, 2013

  • Michael M.

    As people have pointed out to me, my waiver system is cumbersome. I'll have copies with me at the trailhead. It's awkward for me to be all like, "Nice to meetcha, welcome to the group, now sign this liability waiver so I don't get sued!" but oh well. No worries about getting that done in advance.

    January 4, 2013

  • Michael M.

    @Amos ... I'd guess our starting time will be more like 10am. Apparently, given the time the Metro starts running, we couldn't really plan to leave Vienna till about 8:15am.

    January 3, 2013

    • Amos S.

      OK, thanks for the info, we will be there by 10am.

      January 3, 2013

  • Amos S.

    George, John and I are carpooling and will meet everyone at the trailhead parking lot. I figure the soonest you guys will be there is 0930, so we will arrive at that time.

    January 3, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Glad you can join us, Mike!

    January 1, 2013

  • Noah O.

    Very excited to get out to the mountains!

    January 1, 2013

  • Michael M.

    Welcome, Noah!

    December 31, 2012

  • Michael M.

    Hey guys, I added SNP1, 2, and 3 to the files section on the Meet Up site, in case you're curious what exactly I'm proposing. I get that we're talking about 22.5 miles and 7,200ft of gain and 7,200ft of loss. I admit that I am thinking of adding Robertson to that, if everyone feels game, though that could be a last second decision.

    December 30, 2012

  • Joffrey P.

    Haha, I'm more or less doing this as a day hike the week before...

    December 9, 2012

    • Michael M.

      Well, you ought to get youzr gear and sleep outdoors with us! ;)

      December 9, 2012

    • Michael M.

      (Just to clarify, though, we're going to be making some changes to the meet up in the new year, including expanding and diversifying our offerings. You'll be seeing some shorter mileage trips (like this one) as a result. If you want to get bigger miles in, we have 20+ mile backpacking days scheduled on the weekends of 12/21 and 1/19.)

      December 9, 2012

10 went

  • Michael M.
    Veteran Plus Member (3-2!@ - 46er) (B-VI) (WFA) (U-Turn) ('16), Organizer,
    Event Host
  • john l.
    Member
  • Amos S.
    Veteran Member ('15)
  • George L.
    Member
  • Brian
    Veteran Plus Member (3!) (B~~~) (16), Co-Organizer
  • giuseppe b.
    Member
  • Denise M.
    Veteran Member (Twinkle-Toes)
  • Mike K.
    Veteran Plus Member (3) (Beaver Slayer), Assistant Organizer
  • Noah O.
    Member
  • MikeVW
    Veteran Plus Member (2) (Eeyore) ('16), Assistant Organizer

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