I am lucky to live in Virginia, where I’m a short drive from the Blue Ridge Mountains and some of the best hiking in the country. This past Sunday, I was finally able to get back out to the mountains, which got me thinking about my favorite hikes in the area. After hiking for the past ten years in Virginia, if I had to pair down my favorite hikes to just five, these are the one’s that would top the list.
- Old Rag – My husband and I hiked this mountain on our first date, and he later proposed to me here. It’s a seven mile hike complete with a rock scramble and 360 degree views of the surrounding countryside.
- Cold Mountain – Can’t make it to Ireland? Go on this hike, which has a vast open meadow at the top. The parking area is also close to the meadow, so I suggest packing a nice picnic and enjoying it at the end of your hike.
- Bear Church Rock – The high canopy and stream that follow you on the first part of this hike remind me of a rainforest. If you go when the Rhododendron is blooming, it’s absolutely stunning.
- McAfee Knob – Make this a day trip and have lunch at The Homeplace afterwards. Don’t forget to hang your legs over the edge and get the iconic picture.
- White Oak Canyon – Great for dogs or when it’s hot and you want to take a dip in a nice mountain stream along the way.
What are your favorite hikes in Virginia?
I took a tour of McCormick Observatory a few months ago, and came across this old picture of an astronomer at the University of Virginia. I really got a chuckle out of the fact that he was wearing a full suit and tie to stare at the stars. It also reminded me of the famous Oscar Wilde quote “you can never be overdressed or overeducated” because this picture is such a perfect visual depiction of that idea.
As someone who’s interested in both fashion and learning, I’ve always loved this quote because it marries two areas that often seem quite opposed. I think we more commonly think that highly intelligent people do not have fashion sense, and that stylish people are not well-educated. However, I, like Wilde, do not find the realms mutually exclusive.
In fact, by linking these two ideas together, Wilde insists on the importance of both, and that each is dependent on the other. You are not truly well-dressed if you have not educated yourself, and you are not fully educated if you cannot dress properly. While they are distinct arts, they both indicate a level of respect for oneself and one’s world. You are in effect saying I care enough about myself to take care of my appearance, and I care enough about the world I live in to learn about it. Both show gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given and are important areas to cultivate in our lives.