Oh, the best laid plans! Last June, my friend Doug called and said “Hey, want to go to the James Madison – Villanova game on October 17?” Doug’s son is a freshman and JMU and I am a Villanova grad, so we both thought that it was a great idea. Since October is the best month of the year in Virginia – warm days, cool nights, beautiful colors, I suggested staying over somewhere in a motel and spending Sunday hiking.
My job was to plan the hike and set up the motel. Since it was homecoming for JMU, we decided that a hotel in Harrisonburg made no sense. So I found a place in New Market, about 20 or so miles north. That would put us close to the northern part of Shenandoah National Park, a part of the park I rarely get to hike in. This was really something to look forward to. I read up on hikes in that section of the park, picking several good ones out as possibilities. The leading contender, I thought, was the Little Devil’s Stairs circuit hike, which is supposed to be rigorous and very scenic. It was one I have wanted to do for a long time but never had.
Then, this week arrived, and with it nothing but cold and rain. It has been raining continually since Wednesday night, and the forecast was for rain at least through the weekend. I am not against hiking in the rain if you are already out there, although Little Devil’s Stairs with its rocky climb would be a poor and dangerous choice in the rain. But I am opposed to spending $75 for a motel to hike in the rain. So Thursday, we reluctantly decided to just make it a day trip for the game, and I cancelled the motel.
It was still a fun day. We tail-gated with Doug’s son and a friend of his for a couple of hours, and went to the game, which started at 3:30. The rain started about 4:00 and kept up all through the rest of the game. With a temperature in the low 40's, we were all feeling chilled by the end of the game. The half-time score was Villanova 20 – JMU 0, and most of the big enthusiastic homecoming crowd disappeared at halftime. That was too bad, because they missed the great JMU marching band, and also I felt that their team deserved their support. After all, they played the whole game, and didn’t give up, even though they lost.
I am definitely getting old. The college kids all look so young! That time of my life seems like another person’s lifetime sometimes.
I guess the Little Devil Stairs will have to wait. When I hike it, I wonder if I will run into my old pal, the little red devil?
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