Shenandoah National Park / Old Rag Mountain Trail / July 23, 2011
The Old Rag trail is easily one of the hardest trails I've ever done. It wasn't all that long- about 8 miles round trip, but it was steep, grueling, and mentally challenging. It was also about 100 degrees and absurdly humid.
When we were about 1 mile into the 1.5 mile rock scramble we heard thunder in the distance. I think the worst possible scenario would have been rain on the rock scramble. The rocks were already slick, steep, and challenging- rain would have made the stretch treacherous. More treacherous, I should say.
Thank goodness the rain held out long enough and we made it, but not before we used serious rock climbing skills and jumped a 4ft crevice. That jump was probably the scariest thing I've ever done in my life because the fall would have been 20+ feet and the surfaces we were jumping from and landing on were not friendly. I shudder thinking about that jump.
A literal leap of faith. Marissa made it across the crevice first and left Kate and me standing on the other side. She told us to take a leap of faith, which I found to be very nerve-wracking since the faith would be in my mind and body's ability to cope with my fear. I was nervous that my body would quit mid jump or that my mind would change right as I left the safety of the rock. Kate had similar feelings. We knew all to well that real safety was a 4 hr hike away (although I don't think I wold have been any less scared if paramedics were standing by.)
Once we all made it to the other side (after much deliberation and stalling) we just sat on the rock feeling thankful that we'd done it and that it was over. I'm glad I did it and I hope I don't have to do it again.
p.s. I realize that a 4 ft jump is not very long at all, in fact it's easy. It's a different story when there is a 20ft drop that you have to jump over. A 20 ft drop with jagged edges on the way down. I still can't believe we all made it across. I also can't believe we all tried to make it across. Terrifying.
At the end of the 8 miles we were so proud of ourselves. We all conquered some major fears on this trail and we did it together.