Next week, we loaded up the car and headed down to Shenandoah again. This time we were joined by Capitol Hill Tubing Society Founder Andy, his new room mate Eva visiting from Switzerland and her friend from Germany, Erika. Eva showed up with her DSLR camera and camelpack. Erika was in blue jeans, a leather jacket and a great attitude!
The Buck Hollow, Buck Ridge trail is technically a loop. It’s three miles steady down hill through Buck Hollow (which you can’t really enjoy because you know every step down on this side will be a step up on the way back), followed by a very, very steep half mile up onto Buck Ridge and then a steady, semi-steep 3-mile return.
As you descend from Skyline Drive, the Buck Hollow creek – which starts as a mere trickle – gains water and speed. By the time you get to the bottom, it’s got some energy to it. The entire hike down was beautiful, made more so by the fact that there weren’t any leaves on the trees so there was good visibility. We ran into a guy and two kids who told us that we had only just missed a black bear on the trail.
After lunch at the bottom of Buck Hollow, we girded our courage and set off for the infamous stairs. The most challenging part of the hike is also a hidden blessing. While downward grade of the hike down Buck Hollow was unrelenting, a short, brutal half mile of elevation gain at the very beginning of the trek up Buck Ridge (at this point, you’re literally climbing onto the ridge from the valley floor) makes the remaining miles much, much more gentle.
Once we got up the stairs (the book said there were 65, but Mrs. Link counted – that’s what she does – and got 570), the rest of the hike was very relaxing.
At one point, we stumbled on a really cool outcropping of rocks slightly above the trail. We stopped, cooled down, and enjoyed the view.
Buck Hollow, Buck Ridge was a good hike, but forgettable. The highlight of the trip was going to Carousel after the hike. It had finally opened after being closed for the winter. We got some sea salt fries. They were amazing.