Trip Report: “If I Was a Fish, I Would Marry a Salmon” on White Rock Cliffs

Although Susanne and Karan had originally planned a trip together to White Rock Cliffs, they decided to split it into two due to popular demand: an LM version and an MO version. This is the tale of the LM version.

On Saturday morning, most of our group (Adam, Lenny, Andrew, Thi, Reza, Karan, and I) gathered at the Vienna parking lot. The MO group was there as well. No trip member poaching took place (at least not just yet). We drove to the Waites Run Road parking area where we met the remaining member of our group, Janice. Although the MO contingent had left from Vienna first, we LMers were first on the trail.

The trail immediately starts climbing up the forest road before turning off to wind its way straight up the mountain. Everyone took this in their own time. I chatted with Reza on the way up. He claimed he was out of shape but I didn’t see him slowing down.

Both groups took a lunch break after about 4.5 miles of hiking at the Gerhard Shelter. It was a beautiful day, but it did eventually start to feel a little chilly with the wind so once everyone had a break, we moved on.

The trail descended past a spring to an easy road walk that turned into a trail, and then road again. Some of the MO group paused to get water at the spring but it turned out that there were plenty of sources along this stretch.

The benches at the junction with the Old Mail Path just called out for us to take a break and we obliged. Adam, not wanting to push his limits, decided to head back to his car for the night. Lauren (from the MO crew) thoughtfully chose to even out the groups by joining us. Janice showed off her hidden bird knowledge by identifying a blue jay feather Andrew found. We waited a while for Shane, who never showed up (because he had taken an alternate).

Eventually, we decided to trek the last few miles camp. We were all happy to make it to the top of that final climb for the day! However, unlike our previous excursions to this area, we were not the only campers on White Rock Cliffs that evening. No matter — we got creative and all found acceptable campsites.

Rather than making a fire, we chose to cook dinner and hang out at the view for the evening. We all watched with jealousy as Thi (aka Michelin Star) whipped herself up a fresh dinner wrap filled with avocado, hard-boiled eggs, and everything bagel seasoning. Lenny had the foresight to bring his headlamp with him to dinner, but not any extra layers. Reza declared what type of fish and mammal he would marry if he were a fish or mammal. I believe a good time was had by all.

Around 8pm, we retired to our tents and got some good sleep. Despite a forecast of rain, we had only a few sprinkles overnight and it was unexpectedly clear in the morning. I joined Andrew at the view to cook breakfast and he shared some of his delicious coffee with me.

We left camp pretty much on time and continued up the Tuscarora Trail, reveling in the beautiful weather. We did not revel in the sneaky climb up towards the intersection with the Halfmoon Trail but we managed. A short time before we reached the intersection, we came upon a bear line that someone had to cut down because the rock had gotten lodged between the tree trunk and a branch. After some group brainstorming and trial and error, we managed to dislodge the rock and Janice packed out the litter.

Just ahead at the junction between the Halfmoon Trail and the Tuscarora, we rendezvoused with Susanne, Bobo, and Dimitri who had stayed back to meet up with Lauren. From there, we just had a few miles to descend back to the cars, and the rain held off the entire time.

Overall, it was great to meet some new folks and enjoy the fine weather together! We celebrated with food at Spelukner’s in Front Royal.

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