Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sunday morning arrived, and I opened my eyes to the delight of sunny skies and a day off from work. I had been following the weather closely leading up to my off day and had arranged to meet some friends and find the Pinnacle near Abingdon, Virginia. The Pinnacle doesn't receive a lot of publicity and rightfully so, it's on private property. I had secured directions from a friend and the hiking legend of Scott County, Daniel Barnette said he could get us there.Amber and I picked up Kip and Misty in Colonial Heights and we set off to meet Daniel and our friend Shane Estep at a gas station outside of Abingdon.
Just look for the bag of Combos
The girls heading up the trail.
Nearing the summit

We carpooled to the trail head near an abandoned house and entered a pasture field nearby making our way to the woods and looking for the trail leading up the mountain. After a few minutes of beating around the forest we found a trail that looked like it seen some ATV traffic heading uphill. No one was sure we were going the right direction but we knew we had to go up so we continued following it. I heard the trail was moderate but after the first half mile my legs were on fire! It was steep terrain and the leaves from the previous fall made for slick footing. We took frequent breaks and the slight breeze was a nice refresher, at each bend however, we were greeted with more climbing. I hike a lot, as you all know, and this trail was tough! Some of the climb is so steep I was walking on only my toes for several stretches. Mercifully, the trail leveled on a crest in the ridge and as we rested Daniel was still unsure we were on the right path. He was worried the girls (who were lagging behind) would kill him if he was wrong so he ran on ahead looking for any clues to see if he could remember anything from his last trip. After a few minutes of silence, he yelled back, "Hey, were right! I found a pack of Combos!" The sense of relief freshened our legs and we quickly caught up with him. We were still going uphill but entering a rocky section of trail. Large rocks had to be negotiated over and around to continue on. Shortly thereafter, I got my first glimpse of the Pinnacle.
First view of the Pinnacle from the large flat rock near the summit
Brumley Mountain in the distance.
One of the jumps, a pretty wide gap and an uphill jump.

The Pinnacle can't be mistaken. A large boulder is balanced at the end of the ridge with no other rocks supporting it, I was amazed it had been able to stay there for so long. We were on a large flat rock with great views of the surrounding views valleys and mountains. The Pinnacle was about a 100 yards ahead of us but each boulder was separated by a large crack that would be certain death if you didn't make the jump. We decided to instead circle around and look for the makeshift ladder that takes you to the base of the boulders. We found it in a large dip and crack in the rock. The ladder was old but looked like it would do the trick, Misty went first and then Amber. Both made it safely to the bottom so then it was my turn. I weigh as much as both of them combined so I used my elbows to brace against either side of the rock wall and take some of my weight off the wooden steps. I made it to the bottom and Kip handed down my pack and camera. Shane went another direction and found a path that went even lower below us to some rock ledges.

The ladder hole

20ft to the bottom.

Amber made it.

Below the boulders.
 We played around along the base of the boulders and found some ledges that gave us good views of Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain. I was in awe of the size and ability of all the rocks to remain balanced through years of turbulent wind and weather. The only thing I was disappointed in was the fact that someone had spray painted their names along some of the rock walls. NO ONE CARES THAT YOU WERE THERE AND NO ONE WANTS TO KNOW YOUR NAME, PLEASE STOP RUINING THESE PLACES FOR OTHER PEOPLE! We regrouped and climbed the ladder back up to the tops of the boulders, the wind was fierce and even though it was sunny, I was quickly getting cold. We all took turns wading through some brush to a rock that hung out over the valley for pictures before making our way back down the mountain.

Near the base of the Pinancle

balanced without touching.

Beautiful old tree.

Mt Rogers and Whitetop Mountain
The downhill climb was equally difficult, and on more than one occasion I almost fell. All of us were in great spirits though, and we laughed and told stories as we got closer to the truck. If you need a good leg workout, the Pinnacle is your answer. I loved the views but the hike up the mountain is as challenging as any I've done, take plenty of water, a good sense of direction, and a pack of Combos and you too might find this magical place. Until next time, happy trails.
Amber being brave.

That's a tiny ledge!

That  red dot is me.

Misty and Kip. I took this pic from below the Pinnacle.

Our group heading out.

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