Recently, prematurely warm temperatures have been a pleasant surprise for UVA students; it appears to be nearly springtime once again in The ‘Ville. Spring semester unveils a wholly different experience from the fall as Nike running shorts make a comeback and daylight begins to linger a little longer. By this point in the semester, students are itching to burst out of hibernation mode and get geared up for spring; for those who have preferred coma-like lethargy to pepped-up calisthenics for the past four months, behold your new Spring Semester To-Do List:
- Take a hike. Shenandoah National Park is a mere 40 minutes from the University of Virginia. With over 500 miles of trails, there is something for both the rugged Log Cabin Tom and those of us whose experience with the outdoors begins and ends with a date function lumberjack costume. If you’re looking for an easy hike, check out Blackrock Summit. It’s less than a mile round trip with hardly any change in elevation, and the summit views are spectacular. For the best views, scramble up the rocky pile-up at the top and bring a picnic lunch! Humpback Rock remains one of the area’s most popular hikes; though more difficult than Blackrock it is still easily accomplishable in an afternoon. The hike is only a mile to the outcropping, but the elevation gain is deceivingly more difficult than the short distance implies. Humpback rock is located near Afton Mountain, also 40 minutes away from UVA. If you wish to conquer one of Shenandoah’s day hikes, undertake the Old Rag Mountain circuit trail. It’s about 8 miles round trip and the difficulty level ranges from mild to strenuous; the Shenandoah National Park website suggests allowing 7 to 8 hours for the hike. As with several other hikes within the park, the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountain views make the journey worthwhile.
- Hang out with Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is home to many an historic landmark; Monticello is undoubtedly one of the country’s most stunning and extraordinary living monuments. The majestic estate houses a plethora of unique artifacts that reveal a great deal about Jefferson’s multitude of accolades, as well as his personal life. The scenic tours around the grounds reaffirm Monticello’s inspired beauty. There are several different tours offered in the spring; the most popular is the House Tour and Grounds ticket that costs $24 per person.
- Get your derby on. Never been to Churchill Downs? Neither has anyone else at Foxfield Races. The Races are all about the
wide brimmed hats and preppy croakies with the occasional horse race, an experience unique to the University. Come with a big group of friends, as tickets and parking can be expensive. Word to the wise: sunscreen is your best friend.
- Stop whining, and start wine-ing (Or hop-ing). The surrounding mountains create for a spectacular view at most area wineries, especially as lush foliage and dainty blossoms return to the landscape. The wine fare isn’t half bad, either. Take advantage of the pleasant weather to tour a winery and enjoy a bottle on the terrace with friends or family. Places such as Jefferson Vineyards and King Family Vineyards offer beautiful views and inexpensive wine tasting. If you favor a pint over a glass, head for one of Albemarle County’s countless small-time, award-winning breweries. Some breweries, like South Street Brewery and Starr Hill Brewery, have live music throughout the season.
- Take me out to the ball game. Spring’s signature sport, baseball, is already in full swing at UVa. With nationally ranked baseball and lacrosse teams, these games are sporting events every student needs to experience. Cheer on the Wahoos at Klockner and Davenport as they gear up for the NCAA tournament (where both teams will undoubtedly bring home a national
championship). For schedules, stats, and more, check out the Virginia Athletics website.
- Run around. There’s no time like springtime to get in shape. What better way to do so than sign up for a race? The Charlottesville Ten Miler, which takes place on March 31, begins and ends on Grounds, with ten miles of hilly terrain to conquer in the middle. Feeling even more ambitious? The Charlottesville Marathon and Half Marathon takes place the following weekend for the brave and the motivated. For those of us who are less apt to run for hours on end, check out the Charlottesville Mud Warrior on April 14. It is less grueling (it is only 4 miles total) but more involved, as participants must overcome nearly twenty obstacles, many of which involved getting down in the mud. Register with friends and encourage one another to get fit!
Take advantage of the weather. Embrace it, and get active. Charlottesville has too much to offer, there are no excuses for being lazy. Whatever you do, do it with friends, do it for fun, and don’t forget the SPF 30.