16 May 2010

Vacation: Shenandoah National Park

We spent the first three days of our vacation driving to our first major touristy stop. Along the way, we spent a great evening with a friend of mine in Tennessee visiting with her and her children. Mom really wanted to take my friend's son home with her!

Our first destination stop on our vacation was Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Mom and I had never been to this park before. It was established as an "Eastern park in the Western tradition" and features the Skyline Drive. The park's creation forced the people who lived in the area to be relocated, so the park is "still recovering" from human habitation.

The views of gaps and hollows along the drive are lovely … when the weather is nice.

The first full day we spent in the park began slightly overcast with a bit of a drizzle. And the day only got worse. Thick fog, freezing cold and rain. It even sleeted briefly!

But before the weather went downhill, we saw some beautiful sites.

Mountain laurel, which was planted in the park by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, was just beginning to bloom in the mountains.

But then the fog started rolling in,

and we had to be careful about deer on the side of the road.

Our second day in the park was gorgeous! The sun shone, and the skies were bright blue.

I hiked down to see the Dark Hollow Falls which was described as having "steep sections." The trip down was great, until I ran into another hiker who told me that the bear he saw at the "metal part" might still be there. "Great, thanks," I said with some trepidation. He reminded me that people were more dangerous than the bears. I agreed and walked on keeping my eyes and ears open for the bear. All the while I was thinking people may be more dangerous, but I can maybe outrun a person – or at least outfox one.

Fortunately, I didn't see a bear. Also unfortunately, I didn't see a bear. Even though I would have probably fainted if I came across a bear on the hiking trail, it would have been neat to see!

Nevertheless I continued on the hike until I got to Dark Hollow Falls.

And then I had to hike back up the trail to the parking lot. Straight up! Those steep sections? The entire trail!

And along the way I got a phone call from a friend. That was so odd. Right after I hung up the phone, I had no service.

But Mom and I continued on our way, and we did see a bear! It was calmly walking through the woods on the side of the road. I couldn't get a great picture of it, but here's what I got. Can you spot the bear?

Mom and I both hiked along the Limberlost Trail which was described as a gentle stroll. I'm pleased to report that it was a gentle stroll.

Although Mom still needed a break.

The wildlife we saw on this trail were squirrels, an Eastern Towhee

and a chipmunk.

More gorgeous views could be seen on the drive.

Our final hike was the Fox Hollow Trail which was named after a family that had lived there before the park's establishment. Evidence of the family's life in the hollow could still be seen in the rockpiles

and the cemetery.

While we were hiking this trail, a thunderstorm developed. We got caught in the rain and were drenched. Fortunately, we weren't struck by the lightning we saw.

Our next stop was Antietam National Battlefield.

No comments: