Sunset Hike // Sharp Top, VA

I’d wanted to hike to the top of Sharp Top Mountain for a long time. Friends would rave to me about its 360-degree views and easy accessibility off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I knew the hike was short and steep. I expected to have a nice encounter with the woods. But that’s the thing about the natural world - you just never can predict how it will greet you. Let’s just say that Sharp Top made me feel very welcome.

I felt lucky to have Fain and Kyra as willing and available companions to hike this peak for an uninterrupted view of the sunset. They are such precious friends to me, each a delightfully different blend of sweetness, sass, and strength. We piled into my Subaru and hit the road.

For some reason, my GPS did not take us on the aforementioned Blue Ridge Parkway, the most logical approach to the trailhead. Rather, we took the highway for a while until we started following a chain of backroads, each more charming than the next. The sun was low in the sky and we followed rushing creeks flush with the water’s of yesterday’s rainstorms. We wound through sparse neighborhoods tucked behind hills and across little gorges.

Until, that is, we reached a gravel road that zig-zagged up what we believed was a mountain. Fain and Kyra, both veteran Sharp Top hikers, had never taken this route to the trail before. Because of the recent rain, much of the road was washed out and I had to carefully drive across creek runoff and over countless potholes. We lost cell service and could only hope that we were still going in the right direction. At one point we even got stuck behind a VDOT truck that was literally plowing the gravel back into place as if it were snow.

Luckily, that road did eventually end - right at the trailhead! We were all so surprised as we popped out of the woods and realized where we were. After parking and gathering our bags, we excitedly ditched the road and headed up the trail.

The trail up Sharp Top Mountain is, for the most part, rather steep. We kept up a breathtaking pace as we chased the sunset. Occasionally we stopped for drinks of water or to enjoy the view. Our best stop, however, was right as we reached the ridge and encountered a family of four deer. The three of us stood quietly and they were curious enough to approach us. They seemed to be sniffing out snacks, as if they’d been gifted some before. The glowing sunlight through the trees lit up their fur as we all observed each other in peaceful silence. We let them decide when the reception was over.

As the deer returned to the trees, we put our feet back to walking. We climbed up rocks and around boulders, bleeding hearts tinkling against our ankles. The summit was a glorious reward for our pounding heartbeats and heaving lungs. We explored the peak and every angle of the sunset it had to offer. The colors of the sky were at times bold and blazing, other times muted and dreamy. The wind tossed our hair around and carried our laughter away into the mountains. I felt so very light, like a bird at home on a breeze.

There is something so ironic and delicious about feeling more human when you remove yourself from other humans and everything they’ve created. I thought about how not one of us has anything to do with painting the sky lavender in the evening. We cannot sweep the wispy clouds across the fading sun. We have absolutely nothing to do with it, and being up so high and so alone with Fain and Kyra made me feel terrifyingly insignificant and wonderfully free all at once.