Friday afternoon I was able to get out for my local ride to Paris Mountain and back. I can’t remember anything too exciting happening besides a nice 30 mile after work ride to get the weekend started off right. I did throw on ‘Ol ridge’ so things seemed a little harsher than normal but its that time of the year to start taking it slow and the rigid fork helps with that on the downhills.
Sunday rolled around and nobody wanted to ride in the drizzle (I told you that Clay’s ride would suck winter riding passion right out of these poor unsuspecting souls) so I decided that base fitness and dog exercise were the name of the day.
I set out headed to Jones Gap wondering what I could do that was ‘new to me.’ As I have covered all the trails in the Mountain Bridge Wildnerness Area besides Bill Kimball and a small connector off of Hospital Rock trail. I have always wanted to connect Hospital Rock with Rainbow falls but wasn’t sure of the exact path through “Pretty Place” and Greenville YMCA’s property. So without a map or compass I set out to make this loop once and for all.
With Shade and Buddy in tow sporting their blazed orange just in case we started our ascent up Hospital Rock from the visitor’s center. Even with a cool fall day and a light rain and drizzle I quickly warmed up and shed some layers. As I was encompassed in the stepping mantra that we know as hiking, I didn’t see a fallen tree above me and stepped up to feel a sharp pain on the top of my head. After a few choice words, I looked back and the culprit was a sharp branch sticking off of a fallen pine. It left me with a bleeding scalp but nothing serious.
I really love being in the mountains this time of the year as I can see out to all the ridges and contemplate where the trails on the other side of the mountains lie. As I stood there taking in the view I realized the sound of the rain had changed. Sure enough when I looked down it was sleeting slightly adding to the ambiance. It took a mere 40 minutes to get to Hospital Rock and I decided a picnic was in order along with a warming fire. I have been distraught with myself for not building proper fires in the rain twice this year and both happened to be in Clay’s company so I figured I better practice in case one is actually needed in the future.
Luckily I was able to prove to myself that I still am capable of starting a fire in the woods and the dogs and I relaxed for 40 minutes before taking off again! I think this is the longest rest I have ever taken on a solo hike and it was very nice listening to the rain under the shelter of the rock with my warming fire. I covered my fire tracks with some rocks and headed onward up Hospital Rock trail.
After some huffing and puffing up the steeper sections we made it to the connector trail and I could only surmise from this point as I had never hiked the connector and the map just shows the trail teetering off into nothing. I had always figured that it ran into some trails at Camp Greenville but wasn’t certain on which way to go from there.
After a short hike up the connector I found myself on an old road bed that is obviously still driven by hunters or other recreationists. I never saw no trespassing signs and just as I was about to give up my mission I noticed a Camp Greenville marker on a tree. Then not long after that I saw some signs indicating that I was currently on CCC which I knew was the correct way. Sure enough CCC popped me out just up the road from Pretty Place so we walked down to check out the Chapel and its view. After a very wind chilling moment looking at the rain we started on the trail that I knew took us to Rainbow Falls from a previous excursion with Shade and Kristin. The entire time hiking through Camp Greenville I didn’t see a soul. I thought for sure someone would be out at the chapel as they open it up to the public on Sunday’s but we had it all to ourselves.
Hikers beware going down the top portion of Rainbow Falls as there are some roped climbing moves and I had to assist Shade and Buddy in a couple spots. We found ourselves at the falls pretty quickly and we took the view in for a minute before heading the rest of the way down.
A total of 5 hours in the woods without seeing a soul.