Mike and I
October 3, 2020
We left the Channels and drove about an hour west through small towns and to what seamed like the middle of no where. The trail head was not in any mountains but just down a road though a country neighborhood. There was a large parking area with restrooms. We drove past to find the trail and there were no parking signs all over. The trail looked like a road but had no parking tape everywhere. We drove back and parked and hike to the trailhead – about 1/2 mile.
Going up the trail we then see a parking lot. It was pretty full but we had no idea we could drive back in there. Oh well. This trail was not well maintained and it was easy to see the damage thousands of people trekking up it can do. It was full of exposed roots and rocks.
This trail is either a 7 mile loop or a 2 mile (not counting the parking lot walk) hike to the bathtub. Since we have already hiked 9 miles we opted for the 2 mile. What I failed to read was that there were 14 creek crossings. We came to the first one and I tried to rock hop it. I hit a slick rock and down I went. I rarely fall and I was not happy. I was soaked from the waste down. My right hand smashed on a rock and I hurt my thumb and pinky. Did I mention it is October and probably 55 degrees? I got up and decided I was just going to keep going even though my hand was killing me. I could move all my fingers so I’m sure nothing was broke.
We crossed a lot more creek crossings. We didn’t bother trying to stay dry anymore we just plowed right through them. Then I asked Mike for one of his shirts. I put the t-shirt over me and my pack. I looked like the hunchback but I didn’t care. I was going to see this place!
There were quite a few people coming back down the trail. There was one area that had a rope to hold onto while crossing a thin ledge. It was pretty cool as the water rushed by below. It looked like a water slide and I wonder if in warmer weather do people slide here?
The farther up the trail we went the rock started to look like in the picture. I knew we were getting close. Then we came to a beautiful swimming hole. The water was clear blue green and surely did not look like it belonged in Virginia. It looked more like the Caribbean. I read it is sandstone rock but it doesn’t look anything like the Channels.
There was a couple of rope swings at the swimming hole. We kept going past this to a beautiful area dotted with yellow fall leaves that was just breathtaking. This was it. The backdrop of the bathtub is a small waterfall. Because of the moving water the tub is not all clear. At the far end from the waterfall you can see all the way to the bottom. I wanted so bad to jump in. After all I was already wet. I contemplated the 2 mile hike back. It had not warmed up any and this trail is completely shaded so you can even get warmed by the sun.
There was a guy that jumped in and he also did the rope swing. The water was really cold but it was doable! I regret that one. I will have to go back and hopefully there wont be hoards of people.
Beyond this area is another waterfall and the loop trail continues. It was getting pretty late and we were supposed to check into our B&B in Damascus at 4:30 and we were already late with no signal so we turned and headed back down the trail. It sure seamed a lot easier and shorter on the way back. 15 more creek crossings. We reached the last one and damn if I didn’t fall in that one again! Now I’m soaked again and all I can think is I wish I would of just jumped in back at the bathtub! It was still about a mile to the car.
I had my luggage in the car so when I got there I could change into warm dry clothes. We headed out and drove an hour to the Dancing Bear Inn in Damascus VA where we stayed the night. It was a very nice place to stay. They were booked solid and we got the last room. They had everything you could possibly need. Soap, Shampoo, Conditioner, razors, nail clippers, etc. Damascus is a hiker town where the Appalachian Trail actually runs right down the middle of town. It caters to hikers and outdoors people. We ate at the Damascus Diner and it was very good.
Going down for a goodnight sleep and up early to bike the Virginia Creeper Trail.