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Apples are red, dirt is brown...

...lets go hiking, and get out of town! Seriously. We needed to have a date, just Brock and I. We weren't one of those couples that got married and had a baby right away... we had this whole life before Ruby. And while we wouldn't trade our perfect little girl, the joy she brings, her smiles, and her fun way of life for anything, we sometimes do yearn for a "real" hike... not just a mile walk through the woods, stopping every 10 feet to examine a new rock. Toddler moms: know what I mean?? Our last date was July, and we went to Harry Potter at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which was awesome... but our last real hike? Probably spring of 2015. We did some hiking summer of 2015 on our way out to VA from WA, but nothing major: I was early pregnancy, and morning sickness hit me pretty good starting in Moab, UT. And if we hike with Ruby, we can't go long or far or strenuous, because she wants to walk, not be carried. Toddlers... such big kids! Anyway...

Virginia has this kind of famous hike, up Old Rag Mountain, on the eastern side of Shenandoah National Park, with some beautiful views and a sweet rock scramble to make the summit. It is a pretty decent hike up to the rock scramble, and the scramble isn't just a few boulders: it is some minor climbing, pulling yourself up, through cracks, and around ledges, but is SO FUN. Brock had never hiked Old Rag, so when Mimi offered to come sleepover with Ruby, we decided to drive the hour and 45 min to the trailhead and make an early start the next morning.

We left Dumfries around 5pm, stopped and got food for hiking and supplies for breakfast, and then stopped at Old Busthead Brewery in Vint Hill for dinner. Wow. Excellent IPA selection (which is my favorite) and they had this incredible BBQ truck out back for food. For sure stop in sometime if you are in the area!

We started at 6:30 leaving the nearly empty parking lot for the trail head, up the road.

It took us about 2.5 hours to get up to the summit, and we barely saw anyone on the trail! The leaves haven't turned too much here yet, because it has been unseasonably warm, but every now and then we turned the corner and were greeted by some cheerful yellows and oranges. The camera doesn't ever do it justice.

We walked back down the fire road, the longer route for sure, but less technical, and overall, the total hike (a bit over 9 miles) took us 4 hours, 15 minutes. By the time we looped around to the trail head again, around 10:45, it was PACKED. The parking lot was full, and we passed dozens of hikers headed up.

I can't recommend a better hike in the Mid-Atlantic area, mostly because the rock scramble is SO fun, but if you do it, plan to leave the parking lot by 7am, to avoid the crowds (or aim for a weekday).

Also note: this is part of the national park, so regular entrance fees apply. The parking lot is free, BUT if it fills up, the field adjacent to it is on private land, and they charge to park. Not sure how much... they charged us $20 to camp the night before.

While we were out reconnecting... Ruby had the time of her life with Mimi! They played on the playground, had pizza, ate candy corn pumpkins (her current favorite), and read lots of books. Mimi treated Ruby to some fun Halloween stuff, so Ruby really looked fancy for her day with Mimi.

The next day was more playground, and a special treat: chocolate AND vanilla ice-cream... BEFORE lunch! And then... Chick-fil-a for lunch, which is Mimi's favorite. Ruby is certainly a lucky little girl... and she sure does love her Mimi!

Shout out to the best Mimi ever, for giving us a chance to hike, and giving Ruby the best time. We love you!

Do you hike without your kids? Or with them? How old were your kids when you started taking them on "real" hikes? I'm thinking to hike Old Rag, Ruby would need to be at least 7 or 8 years old... Any other hikes in VA, or the Mid-Atlantic we should check out?

#oldrag #oldragmountain #ShenandoahNationalPark

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