I left home around 2:30 and had an easy drive to Getaway House DC. I arrived around 4pm on a Wednesday in early November, just after the end of Daylight Savings Time, so it soon felt dark.
I was surprised to see that most of the cabins were occupied mid-week. I had thought I might have the place to myself, but was glad to have a few people nearby since I was making this a solo trip.
I saw a few young families out for an evening walk, and heard the mooing of cows from a nearby farm. The cabins are spaced about 25 yards apart, with a good amount of forest in between. I’m sure in summer the campsites are very private. In late fall, the trees were nearly bare and I could see a cabin from each of my five windows, but they are oriented in such a way that we would never be looking into each other’s windows.
I had planned to bring some cute rustic props for photos, but due to scheduling snafus, ended up just bringing a bunch of gourds from an apple orchard nearby. So here is that photo:
The cabin felt very solid and secure. The windows made it very bright inside during the day, while at night heavy rolling blinds pulled down to make it nice and private.
Before I arrived I made a note to myself to look up how to make a proper campfire. I was a girl scout – and a Girl Scout Troop Leader! – but was never really confident in my fire-making skills. Someone else always wanted to fiddle with it, tell me I was doing it wrong, show me their tried-and-true method. But maybe it wasn’t my fire that was bad. Maybe everyone just wants to take part. This time it was my turn.
Of course, I forgot to look up how to build a fire before I left home, but the Getaway folks had me covered. One of the six books that lives in the cabin is “How to Stay Alive in the Woods,” by Bradford Angier. I thought this might be a good place to look for step by step instructions for how to build a fire. I liked the way the section on fires started: “There is no single way by which the campfire must be built.” The next 17 pages went into great detail about kindling; types of wood; and how to start a fire using water, ice, or a firearm. Since the Getaway folks provide a commercial fatwood kindling bomb, good seasoned firewood, and a lighter (all for a reasonable fee) in a waterproof box next to the fire pit, I was able to get a good strong fire going in a matter of minutes without too much strategic thought. And I kept it burning for a good long while. Yay me. (And thank you, Getaway House for making it foolproof.)
When it was time for bed, which in my case was around 7 pm (Don’t judge! I had a good book I wanted to read!), I drew all the blinds down and climbed into the very comfy queen bed made up with lovely white sheets and a warm comforter. There’s a wool throw for extra coziness. Four perfect pillows completed the scene.
Before I fell asleep I raised the blind next to my bed so that the dawn would wake me up, and maybe I’d see an animal. Sure enough, as soon as it was light, I spotted a deer ambling past my window.
I woke up early to photograph the rosy-fingered dawn through the last of the falling leaves, but all I found was a dull gray sheet of cloud cover telling me I might as well go back inside and do the writing I came here to do. I heated water for coffee and watched squirrels and woodpeckers at their morning routine outside the windows.
A copy of Thoreau’s Walden sat on the small bookshelf in the cabin, and I thought of him often during my stay. I thought of how thankful I was to not have to get up and chop wood for a fire to make my coffee. I enjoyed my view of the woods, but I also enjoyed the indoor plumbing and the hot water and the quiet heat/ac unit and the place to plug in my phone and computer.
There’s no wifi at the cabin, but there is cell service in the area. When you enter the cabin, there’s a Cellphone Lockbox where you can put your devices on arrival. I wasn’t that disciplined, but I appreciated the sentiment.
I had planned to go for a hike, but the weather was chillier than I expected, so I stayed in my cabin most of the morning. But as soon as the sun emerged and lit up the edges of the remaining yellow leaves on the trees, I knew I’d better get out there. I looked through the list of suggested trails in the Getaway notebook, consulted the Hiking Project app I had downloaded before I left home, and picked a trail that looked challenging but was not within the nearby Shenandoah National Park (I didn’t feel like paying the $25 entry fee just for a few hours).
I filled up my water bottle from the tap, grabbed a few snacks, and laced up my hiking boots. The drive to the trailhead should have taken 20 minutes, but the landscape along the way was so gorgeous I kept stopping to take photos. Eventually, after taking turns onto roads that seemed less and less likely to be public, I reached a dead end at a washed out bridge and, thankfully, a trailhead marker for the Entry Run Trail.
I was all alone in the bright yellow woods next to a stream that was somewhere between babbling and roaring. The cold clear water was running strong between me and the actual start of the mile-long ascent I was hoping to make. There are few things more fun than hopping across rocks to cross a stream, but these were just far enough apart, and the water was rushing just fast enough, that I couldn’t make myself do it. I walked up and down the edge of the stream to see if I could find a better place to cross. I found several good strong walking sticks that might help steady me on my way. But I just couldn’t do it.
I turned and walked back down the road I’d driven in on for a few minutes to at least feel the air and openness and the solitude, and promised myself I’d come back to this trail someday better prepared, because it looked like a fun one. A little over a mile long sharp ascent up the mountain, and then a return on a slightly different path. It’ll be a good excuse for me to come back. And I will come back!
When I returned to the Getaway grounds, I noticed a sign I hadn’t seen before, for a Walking Path. I parked at my cabin and walked back to the path, which was a nice mile or so well-marked path along and across a small stream. And I had it all to myself.
The Getaway House is a great little escape from the city. They hosted me so that I could tell you all about it, and I can highly recommend it. It was a quick and easy way to get out of the city and into the woods in a comfortable, quiet, modern cabin with all the amenities you need.
If you want to go on your own getaway, you can use the code PAIGE25 to save $25 off your booking.
2010 Madison Rd.
Stanardsville, VA 22973
9658 Spotswood Trail
Stanardsville, VA 22973