As the sun fell Saturday, it was easy to be skeptical of the forecasted snow. The sun had been shining brightly, the skies were clear, and the weather was crisp. It was a good winter day for hiking–and a good weekend to be exploring some well-loved trails in the Great North Mountain area that pulled in some of the best views in the area.
By the time Michael and I arrived at Wolf Gap on Saturday, most of our group had gathered and the remainder trickled in. We were moving by 10:30 and quickly warmed up as we made our way up the Mill Mountain Trail, stopping by Big Schloss to take in the sights.
The original plan was to drop off the ridge by taking the Big Schloss Cut-off Trail down, but we opted to stay on the Mill Mountain Trail because it was such a clear day—it seemed a shame to lose the views. And so, we made our way, almost too quickly and Michael attempted to slow down the pace as we neared the last few miles.
We hopped on the Tuscarora Trail and stopped by the Sugar Knob Cabin to grab water from the spring before making our way to White Rock Cliff, our destination for the evening.
The campsites by White Rock Cliff—to borrow Claudio’s description—are “primo.” Just steps from the overlook itself, they offer quite a bit of space to spread out all while feeling you’re off the beaten path. We spread out throughout the two sites, reserving space by the largest firepit for our evening festivities. Whiskey made an appearance and the pile of wood for our campfire reached epic proportions. Tall tales and new legends were shared. It was a good night.
Around 2:30 a.m., the pitter-patter of snow against tents woke a few of us up. Some even heard mysterious chimes. By the time Michael gave the 6:30 a.m. wake-up call, about two to three inches was on the ground and more was falling gently as we packed up and made our way out. We opted to stay along the ridge again to keep the distance short, but it felt like a new trail given the quite different conditions.
The footing was good but it was easy to be reminded of how challenging it can be to walk in snow—even just a few inches. A few of us had graceful falls, others not so much, but we all made our way back to the cars.
It’s been a while since Michael and I had a low-mileage trip so it was nice to have the reminder of just how fun they can be. We had an impressive group of applicants with us who handled the winter conditions like pros. Kudos to Beks, Marco, Chris P., and Chris M. for their first trip with us and for achieving member status—and to Holley for her first winter trip with DC UL.