Reported by Marian Styles
A-plus is the grade that participants gave leader Andy Willgruber’s 8-mile hike. What’s not to like about a hike that begins with a swinging bridge; features three spectacular overlooks, a lake, a rock scramble, and a river; and ends with a cool soak in said river? (Mind you: we did not swim in the river!)
The club had never hiked this route before. To get to the Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve involves taking I-64W and I-81S to Exit 205 (Raphine) with a right onto Route 606 followed by a left onto Route 39 (to Goshen) to a gravel road that leads to Virginia Wayside. The drive proved quite picturesque once we left the freeways behind.
We started our hike by crossing an awesome swinging bridge. After that, the hike was punctuated by three gorgeous viewpoints, which provided wonderful lunch and rest stops. Two overlooks have names: Viewing Rock, which overlooks Lake Merriweather, and Jump Rock.
Following the last viewpoint, we had to scurry down some rocks before we hit a long descent. The last part of the hike paralleled the Maury River. Brian Muszynski and John Brandt took the lead and placed some stepping stones to make it easier for the rest of us to get across one water crossing.
Parts of our route were not well marked, and we were grateful that Andy, who had been accompanied by intrepid hiker Briana Taylor, had hiked the route twice ahead of time to scout it out for us. All told, our 8-mile route covered an elevation gain of 2,480 feet. The exertion required combined with the intense humidity to make the temperature feel quite toasty. We spent a few minutes after the hike cooling off by dipping our feet etc. into the water. An informal rock-skipping contest ensued, and Brian was declared the unofficial winner. Unfortunately, no prize accompanied the honor.
Kelly O’Rourke, Marian Styles, Pete and Bev Fink, Eileen Seaman, and Michael Seth rounded out today’s group of 9. We had hoped to end our day at Just Kay’s Café for ice cream. Alas, Kay and crew were closed for vacation, so we resorted to a stop at a run-of-the-mill convenience store/soft-serve joint.