Saturday, February 5, 2011

In the Heart of Fairfax / Camping #6

November, 2010

While planning my trip to Old Rag, Shenandoah Mountains, I was excited about an opportunity to try out a new campground, and at the same time reduce the amount of driving I did in one day.

Before meeting up with the group I planned to hike with, I really had no idea of exactly where Old Rag is. [Note to self: I really need to be more familiar with where I'm going before I just get in the car and drive off.] So I looked for campgrounds anywhere west of D.C. and selected Lake Fairfax park.

I don't know if this counts as trail magic, but on my multi-hour drive out to the Shenandoah, I saw a Whole Foods store off I-66 and made a mental note to its exit, in case it worked out that I could stop there for supplies, dinner, etc. on the way back. It ended up that the highway exit to Lake Fairfax Park was the exact same exit where Whole Foods was located !!! I had not eaten enough from my aborted attempt on Old Rag; it was a much longer drive to the campground than I expected; I was tired -- so the thought of having dinner at Whole Foods had me thrilled.

Then I exited the highway.

Fairfax must be the most congested and confusing shopping area I've ever come across. I drove around in loops and circles, completely disoriented. Getting into,  and then out of,  the shopping area took 45 minutes. At one point, I thought I'd need to stop and pull out my compass to find my way out. Luckily, dinner at Whole Foods was great; it was the best Whole Foods store I've ever been to. And I've been to several.

By then, dusk was approaching. I still had a bit of a drive to get to the campground. Much to my surprise, the campground is in a residential area - surprise! The park is more of a Parks & Rec facility, rather than a state or national park. I was surprised that there would be campsites.

The campground was rather open - not much "nature". Luckily, I scored a site on the lake; adjacent sites, though there was no buffer, weren't right on top of me. I quickly set up; was unsuccessful with starting a campfire but was too tired to care; and settled in my tent as soon as I could to get some rest.

The days are getting very short; the evening and morning air is crisp; learning what it's like to transition to camping in the late fall.

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