I arrived at the Humpback Rock parking area at milepost 5.8 on the Blue Ridge Parkway about three hours before sunset, ready to get my sweat on. This was my fourth ascent to the greenstone outcropping, so I was familiar with the one-mile trek with a 1,240 ft elevation gain and how it never fails to get my blood pumping. This time, however, I'd be hiking alone with my 25+ pounds of camera gear and there were posted warnings of bear activity in the area. "DO NOT approach them! Attacks on humans have occurred inflicting serious injury and death."
The trail wasted no time ascending, and just as I was reaching that point of no return I realized I had forgotten my headlamp in the car. There was that typical weighing of options moment where I glanced longingly back at the trail and affectionately notified myself, If you get attacked by a bear in the dark you're going to have to assault him with your tripod and seal the deal with an elbow drop. Can you handle that? I recalled my brief childhood obsession with the pro-wrestling soap opera and pictured myself swinging ridiculously at an invisible furry attacker with my Manfrotto. I spent a good portion of the rest of my trek thinking of an appropriate battle cry and accompanying alias.
Note: If you're not used to hiking, this trail will challenge you, but the view will more than make up for it.
The rock scramble summit also makes for a great work out, but prepare for wolf spiders. Lots and lots of wolf spiders. I couldn't count how many I saw that morning! Good news for the spider-squeamish, these lupine arachnids are absolutely terrified of people so don't let them deter your triumph. Just #KeepExploring