Moonlight Hike: Hawksbill Summit - November 4, 2017

submitted by Jeanne Siler

On Saturday, November 4, four hikers proved the familiar maxim that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment.”

Wearing multiple layers of protection, the four of them defied a persistent and chilly rain, as hike leader Iva Gillet led Bill Holman, Jeanne Siler and Brian Muszynski on her annual attempt to achieve a sunset/moonrise hike—this year to the highest point in Shenandoah National Park: the Hawksbill Summit at 4,049 feet. 

Generosity and laughter dominated the afternoon outing.

Brian helped two inexperienced drivers push their cars out of muddy parking spots along the drive, and Iva left prodigious amount of pumpkin and banana nut bread for the ravenous Towson University rugby team members who straggled into the Byrd’s Nest shelter at the summit like drowned tigers just before dark.

Admiring the efficiency of water bars and dam checks along the Lower Hawksbill Trail gave a potential purpose to perhaps the shortest ever PATC Saturday hike.

The best sunsets were viewed on the trail to the restrooms as photographs on the walls at Skyland, where the small group retreated for hot chili and cold beer. As for the moonlight, they imagined it (and herds of mice crossing the road) as Iva fearlessly negotiated miles of fog along Skyline Drive on the return to US route 33.

A morning pre-hike to the summit with Cat McCue, Muszynski, Gillet, Remy the Hiking Dog, and her companions, Moose and Colt, had slightly better views and drier terrain, but still no sunset or moonrise. 

Another attempt on the summit may be planned for January, according to the ever-optimistic Gillet.

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