Kurt's Hikes: Good Afternoon, Irene
Our standard hyperbole from atop 4,001-foot Flat Top Mountain at the Peaks of Otter is that from its eastern viewpoint you can look across the flat of Virginia to Virginia Beach. So on this day, we took a new-to-us short route up, to look over and see Hurricane Irene hit the Virginia coast.
And indeed, with some rain and wind, I suppose we did come in contact with the mild, western-most edges of the storm: On the way up this short, steady-climb trail, the weather became increasingly breezy and threatening, until, over the last quarter mile to the summit, we were in clouds and intermittent rain. At the very top, the rain gave way to fog, decreased winds and brief moments of sunshine, so we pretended we were in the eye.
This, according to The Day Hiker, is a hard walk for such a short distance, as its climb is sustained and at times slightly steep. Still, it's less than two miles and you're there, in a good bit less time than coming up the Flat Top Trail on the other side of the mountain.
Lunch was good, though Gail did show mild, whitish-fingers symptoms of Raynaud's – in August!
Flat Top Mountain via trail from Peaks of Otter picnic area along Va. 43 and back. 3.6 miles.
How to get there: Blue Ridge Parkway to Peaks of Otter area around milepost 83; south on Va. 43 for about a half mile to the picnic area parking lot.