Posts Tagged ‘hiking’

Fall Colors

Charlottesville’s fall colors are exceptionally vibrant this year.  Kristy and I hiked up Old Rag (trail details) with another Darden couple two weekends ago and captured the following photos.

Old Rag is a 10 mile circuit hike located about 30 miles northwest of Charlottesville.  We left for the hike at 9:30am and arrived just in time to grab the last parking space at the trail head.  Apparently we weren’t the only people thinking this was a good weekend to enjoy the colors.  It took us about three hours to hike the four miles leading up to the summit and another two hours to hike the six miles back to our car.  The summit approach was fairly slow going  as the last mile is a rock scramble and we frequently had to wait for other people at points where hand-over-hand climbing was required.

Our weather was perfect and the hike provided some much needed exercise.  We all returned to Charlottesville physically tired and mentally refreshed.

Orientation Hike

Yesterday Kristy and I went on a hike with first year Darden students.  This hike was organized by a second year student and about 20 first year students participated.  I’ve included a group photo below.

Our group met at 10am on the Darden grounds and then carpooled to the trail head off Skyline Drive.  The hike to the Blackrock summit took about an hour.  We then spent another hour at the summit on a rock scramble and completed a short loop hike before heading back down to our cars.  The total trip took about 5 hours during which we got some good exercise and nice views of Virginia.  We also kept to our plan of completing an outdoor hike every weekend.

This hike was one of many optional events planned for first year students during orientation week.  Another group of second year students organized a community service event for the same time on Saturday morning and 20 first year students showed up to help.  Saturday evening there was a Darden Community picnic for all students, faculty, and staff.  Kristy and I had fun catching up with our friends at the picnic and watching a performance by the Darden faculty band (BluesJam).

Bear Sighting

There are many outdoor activities in the Charlottesville area including backpacking, whitewater rafting, caving, skiing, and many more [1].  My wife and I have taken advantage of this by planning a hike just about every weekend.  Sometimes our plans fall through (there is lots to do at Darden), but we probably hit the trail about twice a month during my first year.

Last weekend we hiked part of the Riprap trail off Skyline Drive.  After driving 45 minutes from Charlottesville, we parked and started our hike around 9:30am.  About one mile into the hike we passed a group of four that were running along the trail, which made us feel a little athletically inferior.  Thirty minutes further into our hike we heard lots of rustling and thought there was another group coming along the trail.  After pausing to look, we found ourselves staring at a big black bear about 30-40 yards away.  Maybe it’s because the bear didn’t look right at us, but for whatever reason neither of us were scared.  We just took a couple seconds, slowly turned around, and started walking back to our car while making quite a bit of noise along the way.

The picture of me above was taken about 5 minutes after seeing the bear.  We didn’t think to get a photo of the bear, which was probably the right decision anyway.  The photo on the right was taken along Skyline Drive.


1. If you are interested in seeing a full list of outdoor activities in Charlottesville, the UVA Outdoor Club is a good place to start. There is also an Outdoor Club at Darden.