Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I spend about as much time on the road as I do on the trail when I visit some the entries I have listed. Although my heart lies firmly in the mountains of North Carolina, my home state of Virginia has some wonderful hiking opportunities. This past Sunday I took advantage of one of those hikes and spent the day revisiting one of my favorite fall destinations..
Heading up the mountain.

The Brumley Mountain Trail is a fourteen mile combination of forest roads and narrow paths that wind up and across the mountain and toward Hidden Valley Lake. Along the way the trail passes the Channels of Virginia, a large outcrop of sandstone boulders that have mazes carved in them after years of water erosion. I had been several times and had enlisted some friends that live in the area to keep their eyes on the mountain in hopes of hitting the trail at peak fall color.
The Brumley Mountain Trail.
Reflection in a mud puddle on the trail.
Vines growing together in one of the clearings.

Sunday morning arrived and the group of coworkers I had arranged to hike with met at one of our stores in Abingdon, Virginia. Shane had text me earlier in the morning promising a surprise for the hike and I was anxious to see what he had up his sleeve. Just before we departed for the mountain, our company CEO arrived to hike with us as well! I will admit, I was definitely surprised but I also felt a great deal of pride that the owner of the company I work for was willing to join his employees for a day in the mountains.
Sherrell, Kip, and Shane nearing the fire tower.
Amber climbing the tower and the abandoned cabin in the background.

In all, seventeen of us made the journey to the trail head saddled on the Washington County/Russell County line off VA 80. The parking lot at the mountaintop was jammed with cars which wasn't surprising considering it was the first clear day we had really had that week. The trail follows an old forest road up the mountain for three miles passing several steep inclines near the summit and before the fire tower. The Hayter's Gap Fire Tower was built in 1939 and has long since been abandoned having the bottom rung of steps removed for safety reasons. As the group rested, I boosted Amber onto the tower and she took my camera up for some shots of the surrounding area. Here's one of the better photos she got from the fire tower.
Russell County view from Brumley Mountain.

The entrance to the Channels is also at the base of the fire tower and the trail winds through some rhododendrons before it splits with a small spur leading to the top of the boulders and the main trail continuing down into the boulder field itself. We all spent time on top of the Channels taking pictures and naming the distant ridges. However, the real fun is when you actually enter the Channels from the base. The towering boulders made even me feel small and everyone dispersed quickly making our large group vanish in the maze of sandstone. Although the group was large, the massiveness of Channels made it easy to get photos without anyone else in the shot. After about an hour of wandering through the maze, we reconvened at the fire tower and began the hike out. The sun was lighting the leaves perfectly so Amber and I lagged behind the group as I took countless photos.
Heading into the Channels.
Amber and Cash through the squeeze.
Over two acres of boulders to play in.

It was a surreal day hiking with my friends and coworkers, everyone seemed to have a good time and no one got hurt. I was impressed with the hiking prowess shown by my CEO and was thrilled when said he would love to join us on future hikes. Maybe I can interest him in some real estate in North Carolina. Until then, happy trails!
Our group.
Leaving Brumley Mountain.

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