by Iva Gillet
It is August, so it was humid, but the threat of rain did not keep twelve hikers from heading toward Sperryville for a hike up one of the premier waterfall climbs in the area. Hiking today were some veterans of this hike: Debra Fisher, Marian Styles, Michael Seth, and John Brandt, along with first timers for this hike: Nancy Handley, Tim Brown, Bill Holman, Ruth and Mark Walkup, and Karen and John Ballen. The group headed up the Little Devil Stairs trail and spread out according to how quickly they wanted to scamper up the rugged gorge. The water level was perfect, with enough to produce lovely waterfalls, but not enough to make the several stream crossings difficult. Rocky steps, plunging water and steep walls were some of the best features along the way. Most of us had our lunch at the base of the falls at the top of the Little Devil Stairs gorge, though some had hiked quickly ahead and ate there waiting for the others to join them. At the Fourway intersection of trails, Bill Holman and Ruth Walkup chose the 6 mile option down the Keyser Fire Road and returned to the cars for a nap while the rest of us hiked another 2 miles. While rain threatened, it never really materialized, so we were able to hike in cool temperatures past several more waterfalls on the much less popular Piney Branch trail. Returning up the Hull School trail, we visited the meticulously kept Bolen cemetery before descending the Keyser Fire Road to the cars. Unlike the morning, when the lot was overflowing, our cars were among the few left. While the Ballens and John Brandt returned to Charlottesville, the rest of us headed to Headmasters Pub in Sperryville for a bite and beverages.