Hike: Today (5/31) I went hiking with my dear friend SL at Hanging Rock State Park. We decided to do the 2.6 mile round trip, moderately difficult hike to Hanging Rock itself, then tack on whatever time we had left hiking Wolf Rock trail.
Goal: Just to have a great time! I hadn’t seen SL in person since early March (I think?) except for a video call, so catching up and getting outside in nature was the goal for the day.
Gear: I wore my new Smartwool tank, Oiselle capris, the usual Altra shoes and Smartwool sock, plus my Camelbak with my “big 5” (water, snacks, first aid, self protection, space blanket). And sunscreen & sunglasses, though I didn’t really need either one.
Fuel: I woke up at 6, and had yogurt + granola + fruit (it’s the easiest, plus doesn’t make a lot of noise in the kitchen–didn’t want to wake the boys!), plus coffee.
Weather: 64* and cloudy… perfect for a hike! Though my arms did get a bit chilly at the top, and I wished that I had worn arm warmers.
Pre-Hike: SL picked me up around 6:45 (with a huge smile & hug!) and we caught up on the 45 minute drive to Hanging Rock State Park. We saw a deer, with a true deer-in-the-headlights look on her face, as we pulled into the park, but I was too slow to get a pic of her. When we arrived at the Visitors Center area, there were maybe a dozen cars in the parking lot, so we got a prime parking spot, right next to the trailhead. We got right to it!
Hike: The trail goes down to a tiny creek before heading up, and up, and up some more. We saw a few families and single folks on the way up, but we were mainly on our own. We laughed cynically (nervously?) at the Warning sign (Serious injuries and deaths have occurred beyond this point?! Deaths–plural? Yikes!) and continued the numerous steps upward.
I saw plenty of trash, unfortunately, so I started picking up whatever I could that would fit in my pack. It bothers me to no end that people leave their trash out on the trail. They apparently never learned #LeaveNoTrace, or just the basic: Pick up after yourself. I found
too many lots of food wrappers and water bottles.
This is a quick hike (1.3 miles each way), so after about 30 minutes of walking, we were at the top… so we thought.
We had both been here before, but it had been a decade or so for SL, and two years for me (I walked this trail as part of the River to Rock Challenge, with my friend VM, in 2018). We couldn’t find the next blaze, and admittedly, I got a bit distracted picking up other people’s trash they left on the ground. So, we wandered, but I knew we were just not in the right spot, so we re-traced our steps back. Luckily, at that time, a girl and her dog came up the trail, and they sniffed out the right way (we essentially needed to make a U turn, but we had kept going straight). We were just a few minutes’ walk from the Hanging Rock itself, but since the woods are so thick, we couldn’t see it!
We headed back down, I picked up lots more trash, and we found the turn for Wolf’s Rock trail easily.
We had been walking for 1 hour 15 minutes, so I said, let’s just walk down 20 minutes, turn around and come back. SL agreed. (I was trying to get us right around a 2 hour hike). Wolf’s Rock trail was very much enclosed (no view), and not nearly as exciting as the views from Hanging Rock trail had been. I only took a few pics:
We got back to SL’s car at 1:57 so we walked the parking lot for a few, and hit the 4 mile mark. What an excellent hike!
On the way home, we saw a baby turtle crossing the road 🙂 It felt like a good omen during these tough times… COVID, racial tension, rioting… this hike was the perfect antidote to all of the sadness and frustration right now.
Recommend: For sure! Hanging Rock trail is a relatively easy / not super-strenuous crowd-pleaser (those views!), but Wolf Rock trail might seem boring by comparison. I would like to try the Wolf Rock trail loop (3.1 miles) at a later date, as there is supposed to be a viewpoint further up the trail.
You can see where we got a bit turned around, haha!
Next up: I don’t actually know… Well, Mt. Marcy in 4 weeks, and I have a return trip tentatively scheduled to Hanging Rock with MM (or a trail run in Greensboro), but otherwise… I need to get another adventure or two on the calendar! With no running races taking place right now (darnit, COVID, you ruin everything! 😛 ), I am filling the void with hikes!