Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shenandoah portion COMPLETE!!!!

Finally, we are done with the Shenandoah!!!!  From the get go Virginia has worked us over and it was no different getting through Shenandoah National Forest, but like the rest of the trail we persevered and came out on top. 

9 May 2015:  After we took Deb, now trail name B.A.M., out for her first overnight we had to go up to New Hampshire to swap out our snow tires.  With regular tires back on we returned to Virginia and got back on at Rock Spring Hut parking area and headed north, stopping at a stealth campsite near the Crusher Ridge Trail turn-off for the night.

Hendo making her way through a rare rocky section of trail.  For a moment we thought we were back in The Whites.

Amazingly this tiny odd ball 5 petaled Bluet caught my eye...must be "That Guy" of Bluets...haha.

We hiked by Skyland Restaurant today, so we had to stop and enjoy the amazing Blackberry Ice Cream Pie.  It was well worth the hike.  We each enjoyed a piece of pie, then some dinner and split another piece of pie for desert.

Mom enjoying her early Mother's Day gift of Blackberry Ice Cream Pie.

Hendo's Mom and Hendo at the highest point on the AT in the Shenandoah near Stony Man.

Little Stony Man Cliffs

Some rock climbers rappelling down Little Stony Man Cliffs to put in a route so they can then climb up.

10 May 2015:  Today is Mother's Day.  Last year Mom and I spent Mother's Day on top of Max Patch, this year I treated her to a hike through Shenandoah National Park with amazing wildflowers all along the way.

A Patomac AT Club volunteer maintainer.  He along with his wife were out on a Sunday trimming the trail and keeping things in order.  Roanoke AT Club, take note, this is what it means to maintain trail.

Hendo and Hendo's Mom enjoying Mother's Day lunch on top of The Pinnacle.

Hendo's Mom enjoying the gorgeous patch of Bluets I "planted" for her...I didn't really plant them, just taking credit for Mom's Day.

We took an afternoon break during the heat of the day at Byrd's Nest 3 Hut and ran into fellow hiker Think I Can, who we met last year in Georgia when we all were staring our hikes.  It was great to see him.  He is still trudging along as well and will finish the trail this year.

Mom in front of Mary's Rock.  We wanted to make some more miles and have already climbed numerous piles of rocks and mountains, so we decided not to scramble up on top of Mary's Rock.

Hendo at Mary's Rock

An Eastern Towhee, they serenaded us all along the trail through the Shenandoah.

We stopped along the trail to check out this clearing for a possible tent site for the night, but then saw that it was already taken by a deer enjoying dinner.

We decided to continue on to Pass Mountain Hut for the night and the deer moved on as well.

Monday 11 May 2015:  Today was a warm one, so we made out way to Elkwallow Wayside where we enjoyed some burgers and ice cream and relaxed in the shade during the heat of the day.  Once it began to cool off we continued on to a stealth campsite hear the Range View Cabin.

And another Patomac AT Club member out maintaining trail just north of the Byrd's Nest #4 turn-off.  Another example for Roanoke AT Club to follow.

A cute little toad along the trail.

We watered up for the evening at the Range View Cabin and then found an awesome stealth campsite under some pine trees.  This is the run-off area below the spring at the cabin, full of a gorgeous water flower I need to get a close-up of so I can identify.

Tuesday 12 May 2015:  Today we hiked from near Range View Cabin to a stealth site in Hogwallow Flat.  This was our last night in the Shenandoah.

Thoughout the Shenandoah there are concrete posts which mark the trails.  Those along the AT have the AT stamped into them.  The metal bands around the top of the posts are embossed with the trail name, arrow of direction and distances.

A closer look at a trail post.

A close-up of the embossed metal band.

An amazing out tree just north of the Piney Ridge Trail turn-off on the AT.  Oh the stories it could tell.

Hang-gliders might be banned on other parts of the AT, but in the Shenandoah they actually have some Hang Glider Launch sites, yep it is true.

Canada Mayapple

Close-up Canada Mayapple

We took a break at the Hogback Overlook, what a great view.

Looking out from Hogback Overlook.

A gorgeous Yellow Lady Slipper, so very rare!!

So we had just passed by the amazing Yellow Lady Slippers when we came upon our first bear in the Shenandoah.  He had jumped over the downed tree and was running away by the time I was able to get the camera on and take a picture.

A zoomed in look at the gear running away.

Bluebead Lily

Star Chickweed growing inside an old stump.

And boy was our luck with us today.  We had just crossed Skyline Drive at Gravel Springs Gap, when we came across our second bear of the day, approximately 50 meters off the trail.  It was enjoying some dinner and didn't even flinch when we yelled at it and banged our poles, so we continued hiking on and left it alone to enjoy its dinner.

A close-up of bear #2.

We found a great stealth campsite in Hogwallow Flats and set up our tent for our last night in the Shenandoah.  A deer sauntered by enjoying its dinner.

And the Shenandoah didn't disappoint.  We were treated to a gorgeous sunset.

Wednesday 13 May 2015:  Our last day in the Shenandoah and last day before we get off for Damascus Trail Days.  We have been doing great averaging 8-10 miles a day, we are getting back into our groove.  Today we hiked from our stealth campsite to Jenkins Gap before having breakfast and were greeted by a group a day-hikers at Jenkins Gap.  The hikers were 25-30 retirees out for a day-hike to see yellow lady slippers.  We had a great time hiking along with them and learning to identify some new wildflowers.

Cinnamon Fern


A miniature type of Yellow Lady Slippers


Hendo and Hendo's Mom at the Northern border of the Shenandoah National Forest...whoohoo!!

Showy Orchid

And another volunteer Trail Maintainer, the third we saw in the 5 days we were out, maintaining trail south of VA 602.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute-Front Royal Campus, click here to learn more

Hendo's Mom enjoying a break on a bench along the Smithsonian fence line.  You can't pass up a chance to have a seat.

Hendo taking a break on the bench.

Wood Anemone

A very nice boardwalk over the swampy area just south of US 522 and our getting off point for the day.

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