Trip Report: Tar Jacket Ridge + Spy Rock

Posted by Dave MacLuskie on

After I posted the Tar Jacket trip I got an email from Karan with word that Friday was Jimmy's birthday. We began scheming up ways to mark the occassion. Karan swore me to secrecy.

Team Hua (Hua and Megan) rolled up to the trail head at 7pm and we hiked in the mile and a half to a large campsite on the Old Hotel Trail (part of the Cold Mountain loop). We set up camp, cooked some dinner, and collected firewood for the evening events. I hiked back to the trail head just before 9pm to greet Team Jimmy (Jimmy, Karan, Liza, and Kylie) who arrived right on time despite Hua's dire predictions of tardiness.

We were welcomed back to camp with a blazing fire and soon folks had gathered around for celebratory cupcakes and the giving of gifts - a special All Jimmy calendar (a different photo of GQ for each month) that Karan put together. Jimmy regaled us with his story about how he came to love ponies and tales from his recent Colorado Trail trip. We departed for our respective shelters just past 11pm.

We were up with the sun and on the trail by 7:30am to finish the Cold Mountain loop. The grassy meadow had recently been mowed so the wild flowers were mostly gone but it's still a cool sight. We arrived back at the cars and assisted in a dog rescue. A very large and very easy-going Malamute (?) had been abandoned/lost and was without tags or id. A couple were heading out for the day and were going to take the dog to get checked out and host/adopt it.

We regrouped and headed out for the remaining 10(ish) miles to Spy Rock along Tar Jacket Ridge. The trail bounces around a bit but is generally pretty easy going with lots of green ferny undergrowth. We regrouped at the Seely-Woodworth shelter for our last water stop of the day. The piped spring was running slower than last month but we had ample water. Hua and Liza shared photos of a secret rock cliff that I wasn't aware of and didn't see. The actual location of the Hua-Liza overlook remains a mystery.

Pressing on we checked out the campsite and spring at Porters Gap. It's a nice looking site. Before we knew it we were climbing the steep trail and arrived at Spy Rock at 2pm and claimed one of several flat areas and fire pits. It's a very popular day hike and fairly popular overnight with parking less than 2 miles away [cue foreboding music].

Karan, Kylie, and Hua were dissatisfied with the mileage for the day and not ones to sit around they elected to fast pack to Crab Tree Falls about 5 miles further along the trail with the promise of being back by 6pm. The rest of us checked out Spy Rock. After completing our camp chores (gathering firewood) the non-Crab Tree group napped until 5pm. Laying in the hammock with the cool breeze rocking me side to side resulted in one of my better naps in recent memory.

Liza made a one-match fire start look like childs play and had a full blaze going before I could even grab my ez-bake oven from my pack. Jimmy, Megan, Liza, and I made dinner while the coals developed. Special thanks to Megan for the fuel canister loan. Mine fizzled out half way through my boil. Now I know how light an empty cannister is. The brownies were prepped and the EZ-Bake oven deployed at 5:30pm.

Kylie strode in at 5:50pm with a huge grin on her face. Karan staggered in a few minutes later looking winded. They'd raced each other over the last 3 miles, covering the distance in 45 minutes. Hua, who finds joy in every sight, apparently declared Crab Tree Falls a big disappointment (in front of the rest of the crowd who were all enjoying the falls).

When we started smelling brownies all eyes were on the oven. After a quick bit of amateur decorating the brownies were eaten. Megan was quick to speak up for half of the last brownie when Karan tried to claim it for himself. While Kylie and I decided to camp at camp, the rest of the group gathered up their bags and pads to sleep on Spy Rock. We all trooped up to enjoy the sunset which was beautiful but somewhat truncated by heavy clouds in the distance. I gave up on the astrophotography plans with the clouds rolling in but Jimmy still managed a few great captures over the night when windows to the stars appeared.

We suffered the unfortunate arrival of some co-eds packing PBR sometime after sunset. Most of us got very abbreviated sleep due to the loud, incessant, chatter. I performed our pre-arranged 5:45am sunset wakeup. As a result of the lousy night sleep Jimmy appeared a bit stabby and I feared he might attack so I quickly moved on to the others. The brilliance of the sunrise was similarly obscured by heavy clouds but I think we all enjoyed the sight nonetheless.

We were back on the trail by 7am and after regrouping at the Seely-Woodworth Shelter we took the blue-blazed Lovingston Spring trail. It cuts off a little over a mile before reconnecting to the AT. I thought it was a pretty nice little trail. There's a section or two that seems to divert from being well-traveled to not-so-well traveled but the blue blazes were easy enough to follow. Special thanks to Liza and her eagle eyes for noting the trail had diverged off a section of jeep road that I missed. Soon we were back on the AT, up and over the climb out of Salt Log Gap, and back at the cars.

Lunch at Devil's Backbone was excellent, per usual. We were seated right next to the DC UL Three Ridges group. With belly's full and some eye lids dropping we said good byes and parted ways. Thanks everyone so much for making it a great weekend. I look foward to seeing you each out on the trails again.


Hua Davis posted on

Thanks Dave for the vivid drawing of the enjoyfull backpack event. Even we did not get the best Sunset, Sunrise, and water fall, but does not matter!! Still a GREAT hike with lots of FUN!! Thanks again for organizing the hike. Your amazing energy drives the group forward. Will looking forward to see all again on the trail soon..[:D]


Karan posted on

Great trip report - Thanks Dave. It was pretty good out there.

A special thanks to U-turn for his Photoshop skills on the calendar's cover page. Jimmy's love and affection for ponies was well captured.

I have a short story to share . When we started the hike on Friday night, Jimmy obviously had absolutely no idea of what was coming. There was this section where Dave and Liza were at the front & Jimmy, Kylie and me were slightly behind. We were talking. And, out of nowhere , Jimmy started talking about the DCUL Men's Calendar that was originally mentioned in U-turn's SNP trip few weeks ago (When the calendar idea was brought up in this trip, I thought "Perfect!"). I didn't even have to egg him on to get to this subject. He said something along the lines of *that calendar idea was really funny*. And I had a big smile on my face (luckily it was dark) (As I learned later, Kylie did too as she knew about the calendar) :- Just you wait, buddy. Just you wait..


Michael Martin posted on

Glad to help!

I think the calendar may become a reality for 2015.


Liza posted on

Thanks for the trip report and a great trip, Dave! Looking forward to getting back on the trail with all of you.


Jimmy posted on

Great write up Dave! As far as the shot of the stars that I got, well, it didn't turn out so well as the nearby city glows were very well absorbed in the haze & clouds. Next time.

Also, I think what sparked me to talk about the "Men of DC UL" calender was when Karan suggested of getting me a new trail name. He (pardon my bluntness Karan) thought it didn't have enough "funny" connotations to it. I quickly replied back, "But,...I'm pretty..." (sarcastic jokey way with sad puppy dog eyes). Hahah. This was when I shared that I was starting to build some funny stories as it pertains to my trail name. For example, the calender idea...

Anyways, the calender is now hanging up on my office wall. Great conversation starter with my NAVSEA colleagues by the way...


Karan posted on

I remember the trail name conversation now.

I do have a new trail name for Jimmy (and Liza will agree with me that it is pretty good) - *Braveheart*.

What say?


Jimmy posted on

GQ is forever.... Karan, don't change perfection. hahahha


Joffrey Peters posted on

Wouldn't a "Men of DCUL" calendar really juts be another Jimmy calendar anyway?


Michael Martin posted on

Actually, there might be a Beast Mode pull up shot in there, somewhere.