Ramble On

Monday, December 30, 2013

Stoneyman Summit, with Ulterior Motives

At the Stonyman summit.  Luray is just behind Mary
and me, and Lake Arrowhead is center right. The furthest
ridge is Great North Mountain, in WV.
It's probably just coincidence, but since we have been coming to Hawksbill Cabin, Mary and I have taken a couple of hikes in Shenandoah National Park on the last weekend in December or the first in January.  We continued that tradition with a short hike to the Stonyman summit last Saturday.

It was a great day for a hike, with clear, bright skies and warm temperatures, so the time was right.  But as the title of this post suggests, I had a couple of other ideas about the hike - for one thing, I wanted to try out my new Casio Pathfinder watch.  The other motive will be the topic of my next post.

The Stonyman hike is short, only 1.5 miles, and the elevation change is about 330 feet.  It qualifies as an easy one in my book - but it does end with one of the best views of Luray and the Page Valley that you will find in the Park.  Stoneyman is the second highest peak in the Park, by the way, at 4,010 feet - and on a clear day like Saturday you can see all the way to West Virginia.

The white blaze marks the route of the Appalachian Trail,
while blue blazes mark other routes throughout SNP.
Despite its shortness, this is one of my favorite hikes in the park.  It is close to the Skyland resort, so it was designed as an interpretive trail - there's a guide and marked stops to curate the walk in the woods - and there is a horse trail near the summit that marks a second vista that is often less crowded than the main observation point.

When I first found the trail, one of fondest discoveries was the twin blazes that mark the route: white for the Appalachian Trail, and blue for other hikes in the Park.  There used to be a sign where the routes diverged, about halfway up; I think that it said that point was the highest spot on the AT within the Park boundaries.  I need to go back and look through some past posts to remind myself, I know I have posted a photo of that old sign.

View to the Southwest, across Skyland Resort.
The peak in the upper left is where Massanutten Ski
Resort is, and you can just see the trails.
Using the new Pathfinder, Mary indulged me while I took measurements at three spots on the trail:  at the trailhead, at the point where the AT splits away, and at the summit.  Some features have changed since I had my last watch, but from experience I knew to take a reference altitude from a marked location, in this case the summit, at 4,010 feet, to calculate the climb.  I calculated a net gain of 326 feet, and for now that will be the high point record with the watch.

While we were at the summit I told Mary about the first time I took this hike, back in the days when I was checking off all the "Easy Day Hikes" routes (obligatory Amazon link below).  I got the horse trail summit and sat down to enjoy the view when my cell phone rang.  I spent 30 minutes on a work conference call up there that day, even though I was on vacation - you can bet I billed for that call!

The trail wasn't crowded, but we weren't the only ones who had the idea to go out on a hike. We enjoyed meeting a young family, a mother and daughter out on a walk, and then a couple from New Jersey (Red Bank - exit 109).  But as I mentioned, there was one other purpose for getting out on this hike, and I will post about that next.

By the way, here's the link to the Best Easy Day Hikes book I mentioned above:
Best Easy Day Hikes Shenandoah National Park, 4th (Best Easy Day Hikes Series)
It's not my only guide to the park, but I do refer to it frequently.


posumcop said...

As former scorekeeper and play-by-play announcer for the Luray Wranglers....I have to say....I love your ball cap!!!

posumcop said...

As the former scorekeeper and play-by-play announcer for the Luray Wranglers...I have to say....I love your ball cap!!

Jim said...

I'm fond of that hat myself - it's a wool one like the old timers had. Sorry about the state of the team, I loved going to those games. Also regret never being able to catch up with you there!