On the face of Green Mountain, a synclinal ridge that separates Fort Valley and Little Fort Valley lies a network of trails maintained by a dedicated volunteer group, running through the Virginia wilderness. Access to this part of the National Forest is a little out of the way and much of what I make use of here must be reached on foot. Being only a few hours from the heart of Washington, D.C. however, it’s not deserted so you won’t go half a day without seeing anyone, but you will find plenty of quiet spots and moments of solitude, a refuge from the hustle of our political town.
|Transport||1.5 hours by Car (from DC Chinatown)|
|Conditions||Clear, Sunny, and Hot|
|Gear||Water, Trekking Poles, Pocket Knife, Trauma Kit, Satellite Communicator|
It feels like it’s been a year or more, but I finally got to go back out there. Early in February, I discovered a problem with the mud doggo’s mouth that ended with a dental vet visit where I was told that serious surgery was required to repair a fistula, remove four teeth, and possibly other bone work on her upper jaw. Adding the new mud puppo to the mix didn’t help our adventuring planning. To complicate things, I called around to a number of dental vets to see if anyone could schedule our procedure sooner, but the closest appointment I could get was six weeks out.
Every night and a number of times during the day, I would carefully pick everything out of Maggie’s fistula: hair, bits of food, pus, etc., clean down her mouth with cotton swabs and gauze, then lavage the hole in her gums and head with pressurized sterile saline. By the time we actually got to the dental vet, I was told that her fistula was starting to heal on its own and that the most invasive parts of the procedure were no longer necessary. She bounded out of the dental office a few hours later with just a couple root canals and her unnecessarily long lower canines shortened to stay out of her upper jaw.
Needless to say, this world-class care has left the Mud Kingdom’s coffers feeling the pinch and is STILL putting a damper on our adventuring plans. But that’s no excuse not to get out into our extended backyard for some fresh air and sunshine.
Mistake. More like 87°F and 87% relative humidity. But it’s fine, I needed to do a little sweating. Man am I out of shape. My quads burned. I feel like my glutes aren’t engaging at all (my jeans no longer flatter my backside). I have a favored exercise route that has a couple water crossings with significant amounts of elevation change on a trail that’s not too soft but not too break-your-toes-and-ankles-y. It was r-u-f-f. This was the mud puppo’s first big day outside and he really seemed to enjoy himself. That being said, I’d like to review some very minor issues I had during this hike.
- My planned hike was altered into something harder and longer than I expected.
- [Action] The path I was on at some point stopped looking familiar to me, so I set a turn-around time, hit it, and turned around. I retraced my route all the way back to the car, adding 500 feet of elevation change and an extra mile and a half.
- I forgot that I had just replaced my phone so none of my offline maps were available.
- I didn’t bother with a hardcopy map in a section of forest that I am pretty familiar with.
- Things really do change with the seasons – some years the undergrowth is more successful, other years the trees really throw on a good and thick leaf layer in your eye-line.
- Because I turned around, it was so hot and muggy, and I’m clearly not in great shape, the two liters of water I brought with me weren’t enough.
- I brought minimum gear and no water filter, because I can make it three miles without water, and I knew the water crossings would be wet this time (they were unexpectedly dry when I needed them last October!).
- [Action] Once I hit about half a liter of water remaining, I stopped giving my dogs potable water. My return route included two water crossings, so I just didn’t discourage them from taking some water from a known, relatively clean source. I decided not to let them drink too much.
And (based on my GPS track) it turns out that if I had walked 50 feet further from my turn-around point, I would have seen the trail intersection I was looking for and had a relatively short, shaded, and gentle downhill walk to my car! Oh well – safety first. I decided to end the day trip on a sweet note and we stopped by Effie’s Frozen Favorites in Warrenton on the way home. It was also the mud puppo’s first ice cream.
I’d like to end by saying that I’ll be bringing you more soon, but in a fit of coincidence or cosmic predestination, I suddenly need oral surgery myself. We’ll see how messed up I am pretty soon, but I won’t let it keep us down for too long.