Back to the top of Old Rag

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.

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Tina Fey, I’m sorry I doubted you

About three-quarters of the way up Old Rag and hating tectonic plates for their roles in creating mountains, I doubted whether a college-aged Tina Fey had climbed the mountain, as she had claimed in Bossypants.

But I had read the book too far back. Upon coming back to sea level and rereading her Old Rag chapter, climbing it at night with a crush in hilarious/sad fashion, I realized I was wrong to have doubted her. Oh Tina, how you win me over. I agreed with all three of these passages.

“The first leg of our journey was the walk from the parking lot to the beginning of the actual trail. It was about a mile and a half. By the time we got to the foot of the mountain, I was already nauseous from overexertion and trying to hide it.”

“The way down  from Old Rag is a forest road. We found a stream in the woods and finally got a drink of water. We scooped it up with our hands and it was the greatest, most satisfying drink of water I ever had in my life.”

“As weird as the night’s events had been, I couldn’t help but be excited about the fact that I had climbed a mountain. I never would have thought I could do that.”

It takes climbing a mountain to climb a mountain

Mountains teach humility. Even the humble mountains that everyone’s climbed, like Virginia’s Old Rag, teach that humility. That as fast as you go, the way isn’t quick. That as decent as your sense of direction may be, you have to give up knowing where exactly you are. That however even moderate heights thump your heart, your fear is irrelevant to the situation. That as much as you curse at the mountain, the rocks aren’t moving. That as far as you have come, you still have a long way to go.

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