A whole lot of head-clearing needed to happen, and fortunately we had plans to head for the hills. In fact, a pair of summits was on the agenda: Big House Mountain and Little House Mountain, which sit adjacent to each other near Lexington, Virginia.
The trail leading up to the saddle between the summits is a wide, uphill path of moderate grade. Winter is the ideal time for this mostly treed-in hike, as vistas normally obscured by leaves open up all around.
We reached the saddle, a meadow with a lovely multi-tent campsite, and headed up the Big House Mountain Trail. The climb quickly becomes very steep, and the last 100 yards or so to the ridge is a quasi rock scramble (the shorter you are, the more scrambling you’ll do). At the ridge we turned left to Goat Point Overlook, where a local goat is known to visit and exact a snack tax, but alas he was nowhere to be seen. Nonetheless, the vista from the overlook was gorgeous on this clear day.
A short bushwhack along the ridge led us to Tabletop Rock:
We headed back down to the saddle and made our way up the Little House Mountain Trail. It meanders for a short while before a few switchbacks spill out onto a steep, rocky section that leads straight to the ridge, where the first vista opens up quickly.
From here the hike takes on an introspective tone, with a lengthy walk along the ridge through evergreen tunnels of mountain laurel, pieris, and rhododendron. A light snow had fallen, and it tufted atop the bright green moss that lined the path:
The path eventually descends, leading through a small rock tunnel and more views down into the valley.
No matter how mindfully and gratefully we try to live, the holiday season can bring emotional challenges that sneak up on us ever so quietly. The trap of self-pity lies in wait, ready to snap shut in a heartbeat if we don’t watch our step. Here is a tonic: a long steep climb on a crisp day, thin winter sunlight dancing in ever-shifting shadows, a touch of snow to show us the beauty without the pain, and the fat red buds that promise that spring is always coming.<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/1889099″>Tom Waits – Come On Up To The House</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user632049″>xo</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>