There are times when I crave adventure. An unexplored trail, an unseen vista, perhaps an unexpected stream crossing that wasn’t in the guide. There’s something about a new experience that is pure exhilaration.
Then there are times when I crave something familiar, times when I need to know where I’m going. The past few weeks have been rough, full of sad moments where I look at my feet and remember Annie isn’t there anymore. Her collar is still in my purse, where I placed after the vet removed it from her body. I don’t know what to do with it.
I didn’t want to feel exhilarated; I just wanted to let that damn fake smile drop off my face.
The DC Metro area–which consists of DC, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, if we’re talking about normal commutes–is crowded. There aren’t many trails you can go to be alone. The Billy Goat trail is the shortest drive, but even on a weekday, the trail is congested. Old Rag is another favorite, but you could be standing in line at the rock scrambles for thirty minutes.
About two hours outside of DC, at the intersection of Virginia and West Virginia, is Big Schloss. It’s also considered a crowded trail, but only on weekends. Pick a random Wednesday and you’ll have it all to yourself. And if you don’t, go left instead of right and take Tibbet Knob, which has a tenth of the hikers. It’s pretty much the same hike, although a little shorter and steeper with a fun scramble, and the same rewarding views at the end. There’s also a chance of bears. I like bears.
Big Schloss is my trail. It’s the one I can always count on. It’s accessible year round and I’ve seen it in every season. It’s flourescent green in the spring, deep blue in summer. In autumn it looks like a patchwork quilt. Winter is possibly my favorite, when it turns to shades of frostbitten white. I’ve come here when I’m happy, when I’m sad, and when I’m so mad I could scream. So I guess you could say it’s seen me in all my seasons, too.
There’s something comforting about that.
Sometimes, it’s not about getting lost. Sometimes, it’s about being found.