Hiking Buffalo Mountain in Floyd County, Virginia

Buffalo Mountain is a great short hike in Southern Virginia. I find it hard to believe that I had never been there until yesterday.

Buffalo Mountain

Buffalo Mountain from a distance – Photo by Bob Smith

When I was a kid, my family spent a bit of time in Laurel Fork at a cabin my Grandfather built himself in the 1970’s. On the drive there, and from the top of the hill behind the cabin, you can see a tall rock face on the horizon. Just five miles away, and something I had seen hundreds of times, I didn’t know the name of this mountain until one of the locals asked if I had hiked it.

The tallest thing in several surrounding counties and I haven’t stood on top of it? This must be remedied in short order.

On a previous visit to Laurel Fork with my wife, we tried to locate a trailhead just by casually driving in the direction of the mountain. We got within a couple of miles, but there wasn’t a proper trailhead. We could get there just by following a topographical map, but crossing private property in Confederate Battle Flag country is not something I would recommend.

After more research than should have been necessary, I found the correct name (by mistake I was looking for “Bull Mountain”) and this post with plenty of great info.

Getting there

If using GPS, you can plug in this address to get you most of the way there, then enter these coordinates to get you to the trailhead.

Buffalo Mountain Trailhead Parking

Trailhead parking lot on this foggy day

There were a couple of routes to the top that I explored. The route I took up is the more travelled and better maintained route, so I’d recommend it for at least the route up. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous on the way back down, just follow the ridge-line, don’t fall off a cliff, and you’ll find the parking lot again without much trouble. The route up is marked with red blazes and the route back is somewhat well marked with pink surveyor flags.

Note for hikers with dogs

If you have a fawn-colored pup that even remotely could be mistaken for a deer, make sure you bring an orange blaze vest of some sort for them to wear during hunting season. The season had just opened a week prior and I forgot to bring anything, so Lina got to wear this stylish grocery bag.

IMG 5634

Lina with stylish MacGuyver’d anti-hunting target device

Unfortunately it was very foggy on this day and nothing to see further than 50 feet or so. Fortunately this is the perfect excuse to go back one day soon.

Check out my track here on GaiaGPS.

Additional photos

Trail market

Trail marker

Foggy Trail

Foggy Trail

IMG 5641

Foggy view from the summit

IMG 5646

Summit Marker

Lina and I walking toward the cliff side

Lina and I walking toward the cliff side

Stay on the trail - probably good advice

Stay on the trail – probably good advice

Hiking back down on along the ridgeline trial

Hiking back down on along the ridge-line trail is a bit overgrown – and perhaps not actually a trail

Old power-line pole

Old power-line pole

IMG 5653

Downed Tree

Park Info

Park Info

Hiking App recommendations

For travel in the US, I recommend either TopoMaps or GaiaGPS if you have an iPhone. Outside the US, GaiaGPS is the best option I’ve found as it was perfect for my ten day tour of Iceland’s Ring Road.

Automating the whole process instead of fixing the printer

This morning, my wife asked me to fix the printer so that she could print some forms. Sure, I could have spent a few minutes fighting with printer drivers and what-not, but I hate printing and printers – They seriously stab at my soul.

So my solution was to automate her whole process instead.

If you remember the MadLib notepads you had as a kid, then this will be very familiar to you.

Mad libs
MadLibs – shared under Fair Use

The premise is that you have a story with words cut out by type.

For example, “_______ (person in the room) is an excellent _______ (job / profession) who once _______ (verb) a/an _____ (noun) with his/her bare hands”

There would be a separate page with the following form, and while filling it out you can’t see how the words will fit into the final narrative shown above.

Person in the room   _________
Job / Profession _________
Verb _________
Noun _________

Once completed, the form might look like this…

Person in the room   George
Job / Profession fireman
Verb impaled
Noun shark

Then you transfer the words into the narrative from earlier and you get the unusual story of George the fireman who impales sharks.

George is an excellent fireman who once impaled a shark with his bare hands”

Since I was unsure of her internet access at the location of the event, I needed to build something that was completely self-contained and did not need internet access while it was running. She has a Mac, so slapping together a WPF app wasn’t a straightforward option without installing a VM.

I’ve been learning Node.js in my spare time (since @chimon1984 thinks it might catch on one day), so this was a perfect real-world scenario for me. I had about an hour to time-box the project and set off to code it up in my pajamas on a Saturday morning.

The technologies used are all free and very simple to install and get running with. I’m assuming Linux or OS X, but it could be made to run on Windows without many additional steps.

If you want to check out the code and try it yourself, hop on over to the GitHub where I’ve posted the code. Feel free to use it any way you like, as it has a standard MIT license and submit Pull Requests for improvements and updates. There’s a todo.txt section with things I might add to it as I have free time (whenever that mythical time might be).