Come On Up to the House

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.

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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.

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A short bushwhack along the ridge led us to Tabletop Rock:

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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.

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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:

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The path eventually descends, leading through a small rock tunnel and more views down into the valley.

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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&gt; on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

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