Adventure Weekend: Mountain Biking and Hiking Stony Man Mountain

I’ve talked before about how my goal of eventually building and living in a tiny house is less about the tiny house itself and more about the lifestyle I’m trying to cultivate: a lifestyle of having less and doing more. Putting aside the fall/winter dresses I couldn’t resist last week, I’ve been doing fairly well at resisting the urge to buy “stuff,” and this weekend I had an adventure-filled few days to fuel that passion for the outdoors within me.

Friday kicked off with an early departure from the office (well, 5pm) to head into DC to attend my first ever hockey game: the Washington Capitals vs the Pittsburgh Penguins. It was cold cold cold outside and I was shivering and feeling pretty low energy by the time we were settled into our seats, but when the Capitals scored the first goal I found myself screaming and hollering and leaping out of my seat with everyone else. It was electric.

It was an exciting game, and a fun first for me. Having grown up in Georgia where snow and ice and hockey just aren’t really *a thing,* it was pretty incredible to watch the pros skate around and sling the puck across the ice at 100mph. My favorite part may have been when a kids’ team came out to skate around and play between periods. They were so small and occasionally fell all over one another and it was adorable (never mind that they’re better skaters than me by a long shot)!

Saturday followed up with a lazy morning and then my second ever mountain biking experience. There are some trails not too far from me that aren’t especially challenging, though they’re more than hard enough for me. I bought a bike over the summer for $50 on Craigslist to give it a try before investing in better equipment, and I’m still not at a place where I can justify buying a better bike, but I’m hopeful for next summer. It’s exhilarating to fly downhill after pushing through a climb, and I feel so proud of myself when I navigate around or over small obstacles.

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I can’t lie, I also do a lot of crashing into trees and I am crazy bruised up from a few good falls. There was one stream crossing that has a small, steep hill leading down to it and I sat on my bike deliberating for close to five minutes before getting up the courage to go down it. I was so scared and then so proud. “Scared and then proud” is probably the best description of how I felt for most of the mountain biking outing, and it’s why I want to keep going and getting better. It’s thrilling and scary but then I tackle something tough and feel strong and proud and the best kind of tired.

Not pictured because I was too busy stuffing my face: all-you-can-eat sushi after biking. Ten out of ten, I highly recommend following up a workout with large amounts of raw fish, ha! I tried rolls with shrimp tempura and one with fried banana inside, which was a fun departure from some of the traditional rolls. I even tried one roll that was basically a deep-fried Philly roll! It was different than any of the sushi I’ve had before and it was all delicious. Perfect fuel for the next day’s hike!

Sunday began with an early (but not as early as planned) drive down to Shenandoah to hike Stony Man Mountain. I’ve done a few hikes in the park but this one was a new one for me and I loved it! It’s not as well-marked as some others (or I just didn’t do the prep work I should have) so there were a few places where I wasn’t sure which way to turn, but there were lots of overlooks and it wasn’t too crowded. It’s on the shorter side – between 3 and 4 miles with less than 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If you’re looking for a hike that’s on the “short and easy” side with some really nice vistas and some solitude, this one’s for you!

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Finally, a weekend of adventures would be incomplete without a post-hike beer! When I head down to Shenandoah I often end up passing through Sperryville, so Pen Druid Brewing is the go-to for beer after hiking. It’s got a laid-back vibe that I love, and their Jupiter IPA is great.

After beers I walked over to Copper Fox Distillery since I always see it but never stop in. I’m so glad I did! We sampled some great whiskys, took a tour of the distillery, and then had a cocktail by their fireplace. It was an A+ ending to an A+ weekend full of adventures and new experiences.

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