Hoop Hole upper and lower loops with puppies
Hoop Hole upper and lower loops. 9.0 miles.
With guest-dog Fluff along in addition to puppy Cookie, we returned to a hike in Botetourt County not too far from where Fluff would lie his head for the night. The Hoop Hole trails, east of Eagle Rock and with multiple stream crossings, are a favorite of dogs,
both because of the water and, especially before the leaves return, the openness of the forest - allowing for occasional stops to peer for deer.
For the human hikers, it was the first shorts-and-short-sleeves day of the year, and with the streams in good flow and the sky mostly blue, it was truly all good. Well, except for maybe the 2,400-foot climb, the pesky narrowness of the trail along several steep-slope spots and that false-summit of Pine Mountain that we'd both forgotten, about a half mile before you reach the true peak, at 3,700 feet. And a bunch of big-gnat type flyers who didn't bite or sting, but sure loved to crawl around on things and seemed to want to share our lunch spot on the summit.
Then too there was the reiteration of one of the basic tenets of any hike: Take the map! Even on a most-familiar hike! Our failure to do so led us maybe half a mile down the side trail toward Roaring Run before we returned to our senses and went back up the hill to the main trail, grumbling to each other about our collective stupidity. It's odd: You're out there to walk (and walk and walk), but stick in an accidental mile extra and big bad hikers get cranky with themselves.
The dogs, on the other hand, didn't mind a bit.
And they loved the many more easy stream crossings on the way down to the car.
April 18, 2009