Compton Peak Panorama
I blame it on the piebald deer we saw earlier. Is a piebald deer good luck or bad luck? I'm going with the latter. What else explains on a random cold December Sunday with zero traffic on Skyline Drive that we decide to hike the one damned place, a place that is one of the lesser visited hikes in the park, that a bus full of seniors is also hiking at the same time? "We're going elsewhere," I grumped at their general direction. Nothing against them, really; I just don't hike in crowds. Ann and I are out to get away.
Now, this bus, a huge white coach with "Gunther" emblazoned on the side in huge red letters, and I, we already have history. Earlier, coming south down Skyline Drive, we came upon a bus stopped in the road just before a curve making it damn near impossible to see around it, to see if it is safe to pass. "Pull off the road!" I shout at the driver as I creep around the bus, knowing full well that he cannot hear me, and more than likely, doesn't give a crap what I think. Passengers are milling about the 15-yard wide margin on the side of road where you could have parked a fleet of busses. As we pass by, I am thankful they are not near us. I am so wrong.
Flashing back to a happier part of the day, we got up and going about 8 am. I had promised Ann the day before to take her to a funky little coffee bar in downtown called Steamy's for coffee and a bagel before the hike. Although I like to get up and hiking in the mornings, with a planned hike of less than six miles, there was no particular pressure to hurry, more so now that it is winter and we are actually waiting for the sun to get up as opposed to trying to get our hike completed before the sun comes up.
We both had bacon, egg, and cheese bagels with our coffee. I think that this is the first time that we have started a hike with a belly full of a real breakfast rather than just a couple of granola bars. It was enough to keep me going through 1:00 in the afternoon; Ann lasted even longer. I'm not a fan of breakfast, but I kind of like the energy it gave me.
|Bagel and Coffee at Steamy's in Winchester|
In looking at the map, two hikes stuck out at me as short hikes nearby, both of which we have hiked before: Compton Peak and Overall Run Falls. Compton Peak, being closer to the winery, won, but the climb up from Compton Gap is very, very short, albeit a short hike that really kicked our butts a couple of summers ago when we were really out of shape and not hiking regularly. We also wanted to go climb that hill again and laugh at how sadly out of shape we were.
We decided to tack on some AT mileage to get a short 6-7 mile hike and approach Compton Peak from the south rather than the north and Compton Gap, so we found a suitable place where the AT crossed Skyline Drive between Browntown Overlook and Hogwallow Flats Overlook.
|The Start of our Hike|
|Gunther, our Nemesis|
|Sandy Soil; Mountain Laurels|
|Raspberries, Beautiful in Winter|
|Long Fern-Clad North-Facing Slopes|
|Bird's Nest in Young Maple|
|Random Trail Marker|
|Lots of Brilliant White Shelf Fungi|
|Lunch: Cream Cheese and Olive Wraps|
|Shenandoah River in the Haze|
|Annie Takes in the View|
|Shot of a Boot Shot in Progress|
|The Sun Tried to no Avail|
|Kelly Orchestrating the Tasting Counter|
|The Tasting Line Up|
|Tonnato and Bread|
We were getting ready to leave when Jeff came up from the cellar and opened the bottle of 2012 Albariño that I brought for them to add to their next blind tasting. I wasn't expecting the bottle to be opened same day, but it was, so we hung around and tasted it. I brought it to show everyone that Albariño really can benefit from some bottle age.
By the time we wound our way back home on the long drive in the dark, it was a long day and in spite of dear friend Gunther, a good one.