On Otter’s Summit We Made Our Stand

The last time I climbed Sharp Top Mountain, one of the two Peaks of Otter in Bedford County, Virginia, was in 1997. That year, I was in training for a marathon and had just run my first 20-miler. The very next day, my “recovery” day, I hiked the strenuous, 1.5 mile trail to the top of Sharp Top as if it were a mere stroll in the park.

A lot has changed in 11 years. This year, I only ran 4 miles and then hiked the very vertical trail to the top of Sharp Top the next day. And while I did feel a little more strain than last time, I’m pleased to report that I made it to the summit with oxygen to spare, passing several huffing and puffing younger men along the way.

At 3875 feet, Sharp Top was once thought to be the tallest peak in Virginia back in the early days. But more recent surveys have found many taller mountains in the Old Dominion (Mt. Rogers, at 5729 feet, is the highest). Still, a piece of stone from Sharp Top wound up in the Washington Monument, designating it as Virginia’s “loftiest peak:”


It was a hazy, 90 degree day, not ideal hiking conditions, but when time is short, you take what you can get. When Numbers 1-3, Cousin Nathan and I started out, we had no idea of the dangers that would be lurking around every corner. Speaking of which, here’s Number One being mauled by one of the locals:


Soon he was joined by his brothers and Cousin Nathan and together they broke all sorts of rules about communing with the wildlife (Hey, hard-core naturalists, don’t blame us; Bambi started it). As you can see, she’s pretty friendly:


Maybe a little too friendly:


Once we summited, Numbers One and Two quickly spotted the most isolated, hard-to-get-to (and dangerous) perch available and spread out to catch a few rays:


Number Three and Cousin Nathan opted for a different rock:


Before descending, the crew paused for a group shot. Round Top, which is actually a few feet taller than Sharp Top believe it or not, is in the background:


On Otter’s summit we made our stand. It may not have been the tallest peak around, but it was tall enough.

  1. Stoogelover

    Pretty cool … especially for an old guy! Loved the pictures, by the way. Even the R-rated one.

  2. Mike the Eyeguy

    Number Two, never one to be caught lacking in self-esteem, said: “Yeah, I seem to have that kind of effect on women of all species.”

    More likely, he was merely serving as a human salt lick.

    But don’t tell him that.

  3. mmlace

    Looks like you guys had fun! The only one missing from the lovely pictures is yourself!

    You know, I believe it was about a year ago when you mentioned that someday soon you might reveal the true identity behind Dr. Eyeguy!

    Since then you’ve already told us your name. I’m just wondering when we’ll get to see Dr. Eyeguy w/our own eyes???

  4. Jason Bybee

    Great pics, man. I look forward to these kinds of outings someday with my kids.

  5. Mike the Eyeguy

    @mmlace: I think it adds to the mystique to remain behind the curtain. And at my age, I need all the mystique I can get.

    @Jason: You’ve already got mosh pits at your house. I can only imagine what your outings are going to be like in about 12 years!

  6. mmlace

    That’s fine with me, Dr. Eyeguy! I’ve actually already found a picture of you floating around out there–found it when you piqued my curiosity with those posts from about a year ago.

    (I also thought it very appropriate that the photograph I saw was from an event that you had blogged about…the very first blog of yours that I ever read…the one that had me hooked from the moment I first stumbled upon your blog!)

    As someone who doesn’t really care too much for the mysterious, I was just asking on behalf of the rest of your Fusioneers who might still be left in the dark.

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