Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hot as the Devil!

I did something today that I cannot remember doing.  Maybe it means that I really am getting old!  I aborted a hike after less than a mile and a half!

The trek was with a group of seven others, and we had driven a long, long way - nearly three hours.  The goal was an 8 mile loop to see the Devil's Marbleyard - a huge boulder field of large boulders up in the mountains.  I drove two people in my car, and the trip leader drove her van with the other five.

Here is the location (yellow square), near Natural Bridge (red arrow) in western Virginia.

I knew it would be warm but usually the mountains are cooler.  Not today - it was mid-80's F. when we started hiking.  It was steady uphill but not steep.  I stopped to take a photo and was quickly at the rear of the group.  After about 1.2 miles, I stopped to get a drink.  I was drenched in sweat.  I sat down on a rock, and things just started spinning.  I felt so hot and worn out.  The trip leader was hanging with me, and everyone else had disappeared behind the bend.  I told her I was not feeling really well, so hot.  She said we could go more slowly.  Or I could turn back.  I thought for about 30 seconds.  The group as a whole was faster than the pace today that felt comfortable for me.  I was already lagging behind.  I was not feeling good, and even drinking water didn't help.  I told her I would turn back and wait at the cars.  She said that she could take the seven of them in her van.  So we agreed that I would go home, and return to the meeting spot tonight when they got there to give the two people their things that they had left in my car.

I hated to bail but it seemed like the sensible thing to do.  It literally took me about 45 minutes to feel comfortable, temperature-wise, in my air-conditioned car!  During the drive home, temperatures were 90 - 99 F.

Here is my pathetic 2.4 mile (round trip) track, in blue.  The Devil's Marbleyard, aptly named today because it felt as hot as hell, in the black circle.

Here is a satellite image of the area.  You can see that I was not too far from reaching the "marble yard."

Here are the other seven hikers at the start of the hike.

This hike goes into the James River Face Wilderness, which is in the Jefferson National Forest.

When I crossed this stream on the way back to the car, I just wanted to dive in.

The way to do this: go on a cooler day, and/or camp at one of the great sites near the trail head so you can hit the trail early before it gets too hot.

As bad as it felt to go back, I think it was the right decision for me today.  I need to do some hiking by myself for a few times to see how I do before I try group hiking again.  If I had kept going, I either would have slowed them down tremendously, or potentially put them in a situation of dealing with an ill hiker.


  1. I think you were smart to not finish the hike. The heat is not something to play around with.
    Still sorry you didn't get to hike after all the time it took to get there.

  2. I think so too, although I felt terrible about it. I think I was not prepared to hike with a group on such a hot day.