Chris and I started out from the cabin, while Andy and Tom came down from the Leesburg area. The logistic challenge of meeting halfway came off without a hitch, as we arrived at the trailhead at exactly the same time! Here’s a photo of the group at the start of the hike.
The route we had chosen (from the Hiking Upward site) starts immediately with a 1,600 ascent over three miles, to the summit of Signal Knob. Following the summit, there are several peaks and a ridgeline walk in the route. We started in the sun, with temperatures around 80 and with a forecast of several thunderstorms possible.
We were only about 500 yards into the hike when we met a group of Koreans from a church group heading downhill fast. As they passed us, one of them told us there was a snake laying on the trail ahead. Well, I have my history with snakes now, thanks to encountering one in the cabin laundry room twice (check the "snakes" label), so we pressed on, and soon found a six-foot black rat snake sunning itself there on the trail. Hearing us approach, it quickly moved off and over the edge, disappearing into some brush.