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Thread: 24 Feb Virginia The Priest & Spy Rock

  1. #1
    Senior Member lx93's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
    Fairfax, VA... land of the 2-hour commute

    Southern-style Peakbagging Virginia Spy Rock 24 Feb

    Link to Pix:

    This was my 2nd hike w/ 4k peaks in Virginia, and my 1st w/ the weather affording views. Though only 2, what views they were, matching those typically found up North.

    We parked at the Crabtree Falls Trail off of VA 56. We had been considering starting at the AT trailhead on VA 56. But we decided that we needed to save time, and the 3,000 feet of elevation gain to The Priest didnít help towards that end.

    Crabtree Falls Trail was VERY well-developed, but did have some short stretchs of ice, nothing that StabilIcers & YakTrax couldnít mostly overcome, though we did have 2 scary falls. Weíll be buying crampons soon, even though this is the South. The trails in general had considerably less gnarly roots than New England, and about 2/3 the rockiness.

    It was surprising to find huge waterfalls frozen over even down here, too. Maybe not as thick as Arethusa Falls gets, but impressive nonetheless. After coming to Crabtree Meadows Campground & Forest Road 263, we headed north on the AT (junction unmarked) towards The Priest. The outlook from The Priest was a few (50?) ft west of the unmarked summit along the AT, just north (200 ft?) of The Priest shelter, which was east of the AT, a few hundred (250 ft?) lower in elevation from the AT.

    We then headed back South on the AT. Our next landmarks were 2 rough dirt roads (263 & 596) where cars could be driven crossing the AT. On this & my 1st (viewless) hike down here, that seemed to be a cause of a lot of litter on the trail, more than found in New England.

    The next summit, Maintop Mt., was marked solely by a cairn on the west side. A very short distance further (500 ft?), we came upon the short spur trail to Spy Rock, marked by a wooden sign. The view from Spy Rock had been described by guidebooks as ďone of the best in the Central Blue Ridge. The trail was VERY well broken out.

    Spy Rock is a HUGE single piece of rock about 15(?) ft above the trail, unlike anything Iíve ever seen in 73 other peaks (NE 67, 2 Catskill 4k, 3 ADK 4kís, & Big Bend Ntl. Park, TX) and required some scrambling to get up. I donít think children or even some hikers would have an easy time up this part. It might even be a bit more difficult that the ascent up Bondcliff, the chimney b4 the Knifeís Edge on Kathadin, or that scramble up 1 of the Osceolas. We didnít really look around much from where the dirt trail ended before it to see if there were any alternate ascents, as daylight was fast coming to an end.

    We had planned on descending Crabtree Fails Trail, but that was before seeing all of the ice. We then headed south 1/2 mi on the AT, then turned west on the marked Fish Hatchery Trail. There was a double white blaze about 1/4 mi before the junction. Fish Hatchery Trail was almost comparable to the afore-mentioned Forest Roads. We then hiked 3-4 miles along VA 56 back to our car.

    A well-deserved dinner was at 10p at Applebeeís w/ 2 great partners. They are kind of new to this type of hiking. But being marathon runners, this kept up flawless attitudes despite some setbacks, not complaining once.

    We also need to thank Corey at Blue Ridge Mtn. Sports in VA Beach (equivalent to REI or EMS) for equipping them w/ YakTrax & other essential gear.
    Last edited by lx93; 02-27-2007 at 08:07 AM.
    Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth & the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

    Psalm 90:2

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