This was a special trip because I had the company of Anita Tang who is an avid hiker and world traveler. Like many others she enjoys the fact that Old Rag provides a taste of the mountains within an easy driving distance of the Washington, Baltimore and Richmond areas. Thanks to her I had great company, enjoyed some shared gourmet food, and was able to have a couple pictures taken.
The snow is disappearing fast. The lower lot was almost completely free of snow. The upper lot still had snow but it was not deep. Around a third of a mile of the Weakley Hollow Fire Road was completly bare. The Ridge Trail had a couple of very short sections were bare ground was showing. The snow on the rest of the trail was packed down enough that you could walk on top of it, Some spots on the trail were getting to be icy but most walking was on old corn snow. It was still true that many of the places that during warmer weather require the use of your hands were so packed in with deep snow that you could just walk up a ramp of steep snow steps without needing to use your hands at all. At the beginning of the rock scramble when you drop into the nine foot deep dyke there is a big block of stone that is a key foothold used for lowering yourself down into the dyke. Normally this block of stone is about five feet above the bottom of the dyke but on this day it was only about a foot above the top of the hard packed snow. You could still manage to negotiate the chute by just walking up a steep ramp of snow without needing to use your hands. It was so unusual to be able to do this that it made me a laugh with giddiness. Anita had said that on her prior week's circuit she had found it so unusual to be able to just walk up the Chute's snow ramp that she went back down and up it again just for the fun of it. While on much of the trail you only had a few inches of hard packed snow under your feet there were still rare places where wind drifted snow meant you were standing four or five feet above the ground.
Trail Conditions Change Very Rapidly Day to Day With Snow
On this circut almost all the snow still offered some purchase. We spoke to a group of three trail runners who had been able to run the whole circuit in sneakers. That said some parts of the trail were getting icy. It is hard to know if the snow will change to sheets of ice or when it will have melted enough that it no longer makes it easy to walk up ramps of snow stair steps as opposed to needing to do short sections of vertical climbing.
Some type of micro ice traction devices are still recommended they will make your hike more pleasurable, easier and a lot safer.
From the corner of Peola Mills and Nethers Roads.
From Nethers Road near the intersection of Sharp Rock Road.
Contact Station parking lot's snow mostly gone.
Rest stop at the No Camping Beyond This Spot sign.
Snow on the first false summit.
Looking up the Ridge Trail from the first false summit.