Category Archives: Shenandoah National Park

Old Rag Mountain Hike



I need to remember this day.

What started out as terrible turned into the best day, and a whole lot of lessons were learned along the way.

It was 8:30 pm we had cleaned the house, gone grocery shopping, fed and changed the baby and were ready for the drive to Warrenton.  After having just re-sleep trained him, we weren’t ready to mess up his schedule before the big camping trip in Texas.  He slept the whole way.  The plan was working perfectly.  We get to Warrenton around 11 and try to make the transition from car seat to pack n play.  UTTER FAILURE.  The softie in me couldn’t let him “cry it out”.  He was in a new room, new things, he heard his grandparents voices.  What if he was scared?… But by midnight or a little later I couldn’t take it.  “Micah take a turn with your son.  We are not going hiking tomorrow.  Text your friends right now and tell our friends to go without us.  Well at least we aren’t getting up at 6am to go.  This is crazy, we are crazy”.

Micah lovingly takes Haddon and gives him a comfort bottle (don’t judge) and sings him back to sleep.  Of course it works.  I for real think babies can sense your mood, and mine had not been nice.

I text my friend Beth: “So Haddon did not take the transition from car seat to bed well… Don’t know if the time will change, will keep ya posted.”

Micah texted his friends but his text made it sound like we definitely wouldn’t be there on time.

After playing a noise app all night long my phone died.  I didn’t tell Beth that the time HAD indeed changed.

The whole way to the mountain I tell Micah I am still excited to be going but I can’t shake the disappointment I feel that we missed our friends, that I failed texting Beth a more accurate estimate of our ETA, etc etc.  I tell him if we are going to do fun things with Haddon we should never, ever, under any circumstances have expectations like arrival times (he reminds me that we will never hang out with anyone else if that’s the case…).  Oh, right. Well how about just not early ones then.

If you know my friend Beth, you know that she is grace personified.  She exemplifies Christ like no other.  Forgiveness and Mercy are her nature.

She waited for two hours for us at a little café in Sperryville, VA.  We miss each other dearly and she wanted to be with us Saturday.  Thank you Beth.  Once again in life you show me what forgiveness, patience, and sweetness look like.

We get to the trailhead at 10:30 finally.

The others had started of course.

Old Rag Hike is an interesting one… what starts as a nice steady incline towards the mountain turns into a rock scramble before you even hit the rocky summit, coming down the mountain is steep but you end up on a scenic fire road that is a little easier on the heart and lungs (not so much your calves and toes).

We decide to take the fire road up.  Micah and I have done the hike together a couple times; Beth hasn’t yet so she doesn’t know she is “missing” the rock scramble.  We also figure we have to run into our other friends if we take this way.

I am SO glad we did.

The whole way up, every other adventurer coming down says: “oh there is a lot of ice ahead” “you might want to turn back” “you have a baby on this hike?”.

I was already in a good mood.

Something happens to me in the mountains.  Their magnificence points me to God and gives me strength every time I’m in them.  I see them on 64 and tear up.  I miss them so much.

Instead of feeling disappointed again, I kindly smile and say “oh, how far up?  Thanks for the warning.  Don’t worry we know we might have to turn back”

My husband rocks and carried that sleeping baby on his back the whole way.  We took the snowy path less traveled.  It was icy in some parts but we were wearing good shoes and utilized the trees like they were the best walking sticks around.

We meet up with our friends at the summit.  Eat, take pictures, hide behind trees and from people to pee and head back down the same way we came up.  We hiked back down all together having fun conversation about mountain people, babies, insane past hikes, and everything in between.

It’s okay that we didn’t do the whole loop.

It’s okay that we were late.

It’s okay that Haddon didn’t nap in his pack n play.

It’s okay that other people were shocked to see a baby on a mountain.

We know our strengths, we trust our God, and we know our limits.

It was the best day.  Haddon loved being outdoors.  He slept amazing that day and that night.

I am so thankful I didn’t let disappointment in the way things were supposed to go cripple me from enjoyment.  We want to adventure with our kids.  I want to be calm and fun.  Not frazzled and distressed when things go differently.

I learned a lot Saturday. Grace not perfection…

One in particular is that I need to unplug more often.  It was so nice to only use my phone as a camera and nothing else.

If anyone ever stumbles across this blog and wants a few tips on how we fed, changed diapers, etc on a mountain.  Comment and I’ll be glad to share what worked and what didn’t for us.




Oh, Shenandoah.

We spent this past weekend in the mountains of the Shenandoah Valley.  Oh how I love that place.

My anniversary present from Micah was to stay at the place where we spent our first night as a married couple.   I wanted to save it until I was missing fall in Western VA.

We spent the weekend relaxing, hiking with friends, rising to God’s sun over the peaks of the blue mountains, worshipping God at our old church, eating delicious Thai food, getting caught up on the details of friend’s weddings, seeing my parents, more hikes, and bible study at “The Nut House”.  We made it back around 12:30am!  .

Here are a couple pictures from what we did this weekend:

Sunrises – God woke us up to the sunrises both mornings. 

Stonyman Hike – this was a relatively easy one.  Beautiful views.  It was a little crowded at the summits thought.


Hawksbill Hike – Highest point in the Shenandoah National Park.  Not relatively easy at all.  In fact, there was a .9 straight incline where Micah had to drag me by the hand because my heart felt like it was beating out of my chest. The end was truly worth it.


South River Falls Hike – this was downhill (which means there is only one way back, up), compared to the day before it didn’t feel that bad at all.  This is the hike where Micah and I started courting.  We held hands for the first time on this trail. {insert awwws here}

Old Rag.

This past Saturday was a friend’s birthday.  Katie turned 26, and to celebrate she wanted to go hiking!

We listened to veggie tales teach us about not telling fibs on the car ride up, thanks Chick-fil-A for that teaching.

The older Down’s (Micah’s awesome parents) put up all 8 of us in their home, and fed us so well before sending us off with cookies and bars for the hike.

We were not destination hikers that day, definitely journeyors.  I think it took us 8 hours to do an 8 mile hike, granted we did stop at the summit for over an 1 1/2 to eat, rest, awe at God’s creation, listen to Erin read to us, take pictures, you know- just enjoy each other!

One fun story of the day is that we met this fearless trio, Dan, Diego, and Marco.  Only Diego was 5, and Marco was 1 1/2 and they went our speed about the whole time… never once did those kids complain.  Well one was on his dad’s back the whole time. Such a cool family.  The dad was SO intentional with teaching his sons, it was a neat thing for all of us to witness.  Seriously, that kid new math equations faster than I did.

Here are a few pictures from the hike.

break time at the summit.

surprise brownies and a candle!

the whole gang.

the coolest pants/shorts ever.

this is the time lots of shirtless guys surrounded Katie, and we all laughed.


a reminisant one from date day a couple years ago.

I can’t wait to go back, Lord willing, in October!

Weekend Wonders.

As I mentioned in a couple posts ago, this weekend was one to be excited about.  We went back, back to so many places.

 {old photos on the left, new photos on the right}

–       A place that catered our wedding, Hank’s Smokehouse, where we met up with some sweet friends.

–       A place where one of my newly married friends live together as husband and wife.  I still remember the first time I ever got coffee with Caitlin Goad, err Criner. 🙂

–       A place where Lauren now lives with new sisters and even though it’s the first place we haven’t lived together in a 5 year period, I am genuinely excited about her life, even if we experience it together from a distance.

–       A place where we played on playgrounds and caught up with Beth and her little ones.

–       A place in Front Royal, VA where tons of family members were celebrating our Uncles 50th birthday.  It was a pig roast and pretty hilarious.  I also got to hear incredible stories, like how my 10 year old cousin pretty much helped lead his family (parents included) to Christ by his example.

–       A place where Micah and I used to hike, well so did all of our friends.  We love it – Mary’s Rock in Shenandoah National Park.  Of course we hiked up in the dark.

–       The place Micah and I were married.  Khiamaira Farm, Luray, VA.  We walked around a reminisced, talked to the owners, and had a mini picnic under the tree where we had our first make out as husband and wife (thanks Tim & Sasha Rothwell for catching that).

–       A place in Stanley, VA where I picked up a sweet antique chair for $5!

–       The place in Shenandoah National Park where Micah told me he liked me and wanted to court me and where we went on our “one year together” hike.  South River Falls.

PLUS, we didn’t get to meet him yet, but good friends of ours; The Bergey’s welcomed a little boy yesterday morning!

It was so good to visit all those memorable places.

I was a little worried about how my heart would feel when we left, but, I am fine.

Tonight, we’ll eat our anniversary cupcakes made with love by Kate Sacra. We’ll watch our wedding video made by our creative friend Chris Heatwole.  We’ll eat dinner, drink champagne (left on our porch by a neighbor…lol).  You know stuff like that!

I’m not sure what to be amazed most by,

The beauty of the Shenandoah… the stars just don’t look like that in all places!  Which remind me of His beautiful majesty and make me wonder what He was thinking when He placed them there, separated night and day, etc!

The amazing friends and family we have been blessed with.

The opportunities we have had all over Virginia and beyond.

The man that He placed in my life.

The design of marriage.

I just can’t decide, I’ll just stay amazed and continue to wonder why He loves us so.