Rip Rap Swimming Hole and Chimney Rock - August 3, 2019

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!


Lewis Peak Hike - August 10, 2019

Lewis Peak is touted as "a majestic summit in Shenandoah's southern district with spectacular views. The route is moderate and traverses rolling terrain. There are not lengthy ascents or descents, so its' a good choice for anyone looking for a longer hike devoid of tough climbs." Marit Anderson, hike leader for the day, chose this hike because August can be very hot...so a moderate hike could be enjoyed by all.  Nonetheless, we were blessed by an incredibly beautiful day with temperatures so cool at our meetup site at Afton mountain, that most of us were donning sweatshirts and jackets. The day warmed up to a perfect mid-seventy degrees in the mountains and a slight breeze.
The group of happy hikers included Anne Colgate, Claire Cline, Larry Cutler, Janet Smalley, Susanna Williams, Anna Castle, Ann Hays, Jocelyn Prostko, Joe Simaid, Mike Hammer, and Nancy Handley, who assisted as sweep for the day. The route began at Brown's Gap in SNP and proceeded along the Appalachian Trail to Big Run Loop, Rockytop Trail, Lewis Peak Trail, and finally up to Lewis Peak summit.  On the summit we had lunch and homemade chocolate chip cookies enjoying the view of Massanutten, Rocky Mountain, and the Shenandoah Valley. Ann Hays pointed out the interesting worm hole fossils in the rocks. We returned along the same route with Claire Cline, Anne Colgate, and Anna Castle being our naturalists for the day, pointing out wild flowers including Whorl Asters, Heal-all, Goldenrod, and Mullein. Wildlife excitement for the day was a large bear crossing the Skyline Drive on our ride north and a lost dog zipping past our group, most likely looking for his master. Our hike clocked in at 9.2 miles, 1,114 ascent, and a total of 4 hours and 40 minutes.  As we departed, a group was planning contra dancing for later and four of us met up at ProReNata Brewery for suds and corn hole games.  Great day in the mountains for sure!

submitted by Marit Anderson