submitted by Iva Gillet
Hoping for a typical warm summer day, eighteen hikers were not disappointed with this hike to a clear, COLD mountain swimming hole. For this adventure we congregated at the Dollar General in Crimora before heading through a stream bed to the remote Rip Rap trailhead on the west side of the Shenandoah National Park. As this was an out and back hike, Bill Holman accompanied Jeanne Siler and Sunny Choi at a slower pace to the swimming hole to wait for the longer group hikers’ return from a few additional miles. Iva Gillet and Remi shepherded the remaining group from the back, with David Crowe, Claire Cline and Jocelyn Prostko leading the march to Chimney Rock. We were happy to have new hikers Jonas Hochstetler, Tom Mayer, and Larry Cutler join us for this, as well as Nancy Handley, Margaret Helber, Michael Seth, and our Charlottesville carpool group of John Shannon, Marian Styles, Debra Fisher, Dennis Templeton and Norman Beil.
About half the group had never been on this trail, and most had not hiked it from the bottom. It was warm, but not overwhelming and when we reached the clear, open views from Chimney Rock, we enjoyed some sustenance after our climb. After food and photos, we descended back to the swimming hole and found not only the rest of our group, but a few others who were cooling off. Remi was the first one in and swam for sticks most of the time as we ate and swam. Norman tried out the rope swing while about ½ of us were able to submerge in the chilly waters. It continues to amaze me how clear and aquamarine the water is at this spot. After some key lime and chocolate chip cookies, we packed up our gear and returned to the cars. Most of us then continued to Stable Craft Brewing for refreshments and snacks while the chickens wandered around the brewery and groups played sand volleyball. The brewery is uniquely located in the middle of farm land near Verona, with lots of outdoor games, and a focus on sustainability. Great fun to have so many join for this sunny day adventure!