Two young 50-something females. One big adventure exploring the Americas. Have liquidated everything they own and packed a Saturn Vue with bare necessities to set out on this journey. Planting seeds at each juncture symbolizing their new growth. With an open mind and heart, ready to get a true view of this world.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Oh, Shenandoah

Perfect weather this morning for our excursion to Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive. An early start puts us at the park relatively early so we can enjoy a full day of exploration. Almost immediately after entering the park, our first deer spotting happens, it is the start of many such interactions, in fact, we lose count by day's end. This park cradles nearly 6,000 of these docile creatures and they are out in abundance here.

Our starting point is at Front Royal, the northern entrance, and this first section at this early time affords a fairly quiet run, few others are here yet. Stopping for all the deer and overlooks takes awhile and we relish the leisurely pace. Though spring has certainly not arrived, winter still evident - even ice patches often - the beauty of this place is still apparent.

As the noon hour approaches, we find a picnic spot and enjoy our lunch in perfect solitude, with a wide expanse of mountains and valley as our backdrop. Breathtaking. The wind is starting to calm a bit and by afternoon, when we find our first hike, it is nearly warm. Limberlost is a fairly easy, gently winding trail that takes us through virgin hemlock, old homesteads, wetlands, and over Whiteoak Canyon Run, a good little warm-up and we have the path completely to ourselves.

Continuing along the Skyline brings us into a more populated area, a few more visitors. We are still amazed at the deer activity this time of day and, even with the increased volume of people, they are found at so many different turns. It's just wonderful! Our goal at hand is a search for a bit more challenging hike, perhaps with a waterfall. We've found our deer - now waterfalls a must!

Dark Hollow Falls gives us our first hiking challenge on our adventure and we are reminded of past walks in North and South Carolina, there is nothing quite like these journeys. Gurgling brooks that follow the path, steep descends, foreshadowing those hearty climbs back, and the views at different points of upper and lower falls all make for the ultimate outdoor activity. It really can't be beat!

Today we find fellow adventurers engaged at various stopping areas along the path, as there are numerous vantage points. The day has warmed significantly and it is the perfect day for such an outing, hence the popularity of our route. We take our time, especially at the rocky trek at the final descent, and gaze upward a good while, enjoying the spectacular scene above. Our journey back to the top is taken with several breaks, as it is a bit of a workout, but worth every single step!

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