Our piece on page 14 presents some very real and challenging Virginia mountain adventures. Which gives me a chance to talk about the time I hurt my left pinkie really really bad!
this was on a multi-day hiking trek, as The Day Hiker and I are wont to undertake now and again. No sleeping on the ground, you understand, as said Day Hiker (aka Gail, the missus), can hike your gaiters off, but does so only when fully assured that—back out of the woods and into a town—a fine dinner awaits her in reward.
The first day was to be the climb of 4,397-foot Reddish Knob near Harrisonburg. The parking spot, about four miles from the peak, as I recall, was among the most uncertain-feeling of any we’ve visited in the state. The forest road was unusually rutted and rocky and the one-car parking space was just across from two or three equally rutted and rocky abodes that gave you the feeling you could come back to cinder blocks instead of wheels.
Yes, I was nervous about getting out and leaving the car there, but of course I didn’t want The Day Hiker to be aware of this because I am, you know, a guy.
Instead, my uncertainties manifested themselves in a kind of shakiness that resulted in my closing the car door in such a fashion that my left little finger was between it and the car as the door closed.
An involuntary yelp followed, and the left hand was instantly folded, uninspected, into the right, to sort of tuck it away until we were underway and I could sneak a look.
But The Day Hiker, being, you know, a girl, started going on about show me that right this second kind of stuff, and since there was blood coming out of the little two-hands package I had going, I showed it to her.
Jump ahead to the hospital in Harrisonburg, where a bone re-set, some stitches and a splint took enough time that our only hike that day was the weenie two miles around Natural Chimneys. What a letdown.
But hey, that’s not the point. The point is that the next day we set out—complete with the throbbing pinkie—for what is likely the most challenging hike we’ve done in the Virginia mountains in more than 12 years of pretty-much-every-weekend hikes.
When you get out of your car where the Appalachian Trail crosses Va. 56 near Crabtree Falls, you are at an elevation of 930 feet above sea level, right there along the Tye River.
And if you hike north on the AT, you will arrive, in six miles, at an elevation of 3,970 feet, at the top of Three Ridges Mountain, having navigated those rocky three ridges.
A 3,000-foot climb over six miles is as good a climb as you’ll find in Virginia (well, unless you go south from the Tye, to the top of the Priest, which is 4,062), especially with a sore pinkie on your non-pole hand, see.
And hey, that was all before lunch.
Because you do need some time to finish the rest of this wonderful 14.4-mile loop, which proceeds on to the AT’s intersection with the Mau Har Trail, which takes you back down toward the river before intersecting with the AT, which delivers you to your starting point at Va. 56.
Anyway, pinkie booboo or no, it’s a great dayhike, and likely a better overnight, with a stop at the Maupin Field Shelter.