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Friday, May 19, 2017

Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah National Park 

It was time to head for the mountains as Charlottesville was heating up. The Shenandoah
National Park's scenic roadway, Skyline Drive, follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Parkway,
which stretches 469 miles south to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. As we climbed
up to 3500 feet above sea level, the temperatures dropped to the 60s in the sunshine.
Shortly after turning onto the parkway, a big black bear bounded across the road.
Once she was in the woods, she looked back at us as we stopped in the middle of the
road. No one was behind us so we enjoyed the moment.



 

Traveling in the shoulder season is the best. No reservations were needed at the Big Meadow
Campground. We settled in after our 55 mile drive and took a hike to Dark Hollow Falls and
made a stop at the visitor's center to listen to the naturalist's talk. After the talk, he
took us out to see a nest of the Junko, a bird that nests in the grass. We missed the baby
birds but the parents were out.

 
Dark Hollow Falls



Most of the trees are just starting to bloom, making getting a peak of the views from the trail possible.

 
One evening after we had gone inside, I noticed an older lady pull up across from us in a Class C motorhome. I noticed she was alone and didn't think much about that until I heard hear trying to level the RV. She would back up and try to get a running start to get on the levelers. They would shoot out when she hit them making lots of noise. I told Mike that I was going out there and help her. That really meant that he should get his shoes on and give us a hand.
 
She was quite a character and had flown from Tallahassee to purchase the RV from a couple of elderly ladies. She previously had a Road Trek and she was getting acquainted with the Class C. She had never married and had traveled to all 49 states and Canadian Provinces in that Road Trek and was ready for a larger unit. It was fun to hear her story and adventurous spirit. "We" got here all set so she could get some rest. 

 
Not an easy bike ride uphill at 4 mph but the downhill was sweet at 30 plus mph.

 After our bike ride on Skyline Drive, we stopped at the visitor's center. While taking a break at
picnic tables, we met "Born Ready", his AT hiking name. He was happy to sit and visit about his journey on the AT which runs by our campground. He retired at 65 and decided to take on the challenge, leaving Springer, GA on Feb 15th. He said that it was harder than anything he could have imagined even after training for several weeks before starting. We have done day hikes on many sections of the trail and agree that it is tough.

The number of hikers on the AT is at a high number this year. The few days we got to spend in
Shenandoah National Park, there was a steady flow of hikers. The different hikers we have spoken with agree that the weather has been tough the past two months.
 
Lewis Falls
 


The mornings before the sun comes up is the best with the cool morning air and peaceful quiet before
people start moving around. It also makes taking this picture pretty nice.



 
We saw plenty of critters but most of the time no picture, except for this guy.
 
    At the tunnel leaving Shenandoah a bear cub turned and ran up the hill as we got close. The two bears  we got to see were quite a treat.
In the mornings, We would wake to the whippoorwill's song and the hoot of the owl as we closed our eyes at night. I am sure glad that some very smart people felt this was something important to preserve.

8 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your time in Shenandoah National Park. It's kind of "funny", the mountains out west are majestic and awesome, but the Blue Ridge Mountains are serene and more rolling. That's awesome that you had that encounter with the black bear and him turning around to watch you.

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    1. They are very old mountains that seem very healthy. Loved seeing the bears.

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  2. Our very first bear sighting was also at Shenandoah National Park...

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  3. Growing up in northern WV, Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive were often heard about, but I never made it to either - maybe someday.

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    1. There are just too many places to see and food to eat to do them all.

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  4. Traveling in the shoulder season seems like the perfect way to do it. Nice to have the views and not too many people! Looks like the weather is good for you, too. Love your description of waking with the whippoorwills and going to sleep with the owls.

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    1. I thought of you two as we walked the birder trail. There were so many bird sounds all around us.

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