The last time we climbed Old Rag, the first time for me, I didn’t know what I’d gotten myself into and Lori had forgotten. We didn’t start early enough in the day. We didn’t bring enough water. I set too fast an early pace. I kept thinking we’d made it to the top when we were really nowhere close. I got frustrated with the mountain. Lori got frustrated with me. We eventually made it to the summit, and all was forgiven. Then the boringness of the fire road back to the parking lot got to us both, and were we both happy to arrive at the parking lot. The whole hike was six hour, maybe six and a half.
We were proud of ourselves afterward, but we knew we could do better.
This time around, two years later, we did it in five. We started early and brought plenty of water. The temperature was at least 10 degrees cooler. Lori set the pace, something at which we’d realized, in the time since the last climb, she was great. I expected the summit never to come, and we both had a terrific time. The fire road was still boring, but we were ready. After getting back to the parking lot, we hit the winery down the road.
Back on flat dirt, the winery we hit after was Sharp Rock, where sweaty Old Rag hikers are most definitely welcome. We stayed at Belle Meade farm while we were out there, and all the breakfasts were delicious and mostly farm-sourced. Other stops: Gadino Cellars on the way into town and its people who’ve been consistently nice (and its wines creative and tasty) in the now almost-decade since I’d first been there, the relative new Headmaster’s Pub in Sperryville (friendly, filling and a great balance with the fancier Thorton River Grille the next night), and, yes, Thorton River, where we happily tried to replace some of what the climb had taken off.