Inger and Jeff Latreille
~Tuesday, May 25, 2021~
Last night, with all of the dew dropping from the trees hanging over our trailer, it sounded like constant rain….until about 5:00 a.m. this morning. But, it appears the clouds have moved on. Are we actually in for some good weather today? I have a feeling no matter what the forecast says, the weather can change on a dime at this park.
Shenandoah National Park’s scenic roadway, Skyline Drive, follows the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains for 105 miles, where our campground at Big Meadows is just a little north of the middle. Construction of Skyline Drive, which included many scenic overlooks, was intended with the motorist in mind; a way you could enjoy a leisurely drive through the Blue Ridge. The construction of this drive was begun even before Congress established the national park in 1935. Definitely time to start exploring, where a hike day was definitely in order, with the pups.
We decided to try one of the three hikes the ranger recommended which was the Hawksbill Gap Trail. This trail takes you to the highest point in the park at 4,041 feet with a 900 foot elevation gain in about 2 miles up, and 2 miles back. We would consider it a moderate hike. The rocky path meanders through beautiful, densely shaded forest with little yellow and purple flowers occasionally flanking the path until you reach the summit. There is a small shelter up top with a picnic table for resting or eating, and the views…..spectacular.
Even with the haze today, it was still worth the trip. I can’t imagine what this would look like on a completely clear day.
What was interesting up top was witnessing the inversion between the eastern side of the ridgeline where it was fairly clear, and the west side, completely socked in clouds. On the way down, we decided to add a short switch-back section called Salamander, that eventually drops you onto the Appalachian Trail. That is where we saw a few more backpackers and even met a woman (around mid-60’s I’d say), who had hiked the entire Appalachian Trail a few years back….the entire 2,000 miles which spans from Georgia to Maine. She said it took her 7 months, leaving early Spring and finishing by early November. Wow, what a rock star!!
After the hike, we came back to the campground to drop off Sadie and decided to give the lodge a try. The views were pretty good, though still a little hazy. There’s seating below at the back of the lodge which we didn’t know about yesterday, so that’s where we’d chill. Nice to relax after our big hike, drink a beer, and catch up on emails. We had the perfect spot. Perfect that is, until we were subjected to hearing some guy on his soapbox, trying to convince the next table over that we shouldn’t be funding “Green Energy” and why everyone that drives a Tesla just wants a cool car, without intention of helping the environment. As much as we and everyone else around us were trying to tune the guy out, it was impossible. Pandora anyone? Even the lady next to me trying to read, approved my idea of putting on a little Frank Sinatra to help ease our pain. But by the time I was logged in and ready to hit “play”, the guy left…..thank goodness! What is it about certain people that simply have no regard for anyone else’s space.? Just as things were really warming up, the clouds and wind decided to roll in again, forcing our exit. We’ll try again tomorrow evening.