Saturday, January 31, 2015

16 September 2014 Bearfence Mountain and Doyles River Falls

For our honeymoon we stayed in the Dogwood Cabin at the park. We've started taking a few more creature comforts with a few nights at one of the larger (warmer) rooms, but we always spend a few nights at Dogwood. It has become an old friend. At each visit, I've ended up with a picture of Ali at the steps by Dogwood. The images give a view of some weather extremes we've seen while here.

We had some great, if cold, weather here 25 years ago.

A wet and foggy celebration of ten years together

A bright and sunny visit at 20 years

Our cars have changed a bit over the years. The fun Mazda is still with us.

Our first journey today was a hike to the top of Bearfence Mountain. It's a fun, short hike with some great rock scrambles and a super view at the top. It was early in the week with high clouds so the day was perfect for Bearfence.

It's usually late in the season when we visit, but we do get to occasionally spot interesting flowers along the trail.

All the rock scrambles eventually lead you to this.

A hike up a little farther along the ridge gives more views.

Between Bearfence and Doyles River, we made a stop to enjoy the views from another lookout.

Over the years we have gotten much better at spotting flowers. Earlier in the year we spotted a number of orchids on a journey through the northweest. Today we were able to spot orchids in Virginia as we walked the Doyles River trail.

We've seen a lot more flow at these falls (during a huge rain storm). Today we enjoyed their beauty on a dry,pleasant day.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

15 September 2014 Blackrock and Calvary Rocks

We started our day above the clouds with Skyland resting above a low cloud ceiling in the Shenandoah Valley. Todays trip would take us north and out of the park so we could reach a more southern entrance and start our Shenandoah day at Blackrock.

We're above the clouds! There is a reason why it is called Skyland.

We've visited them before, but neither of us tires of stopping for the views at the observation areas. Ali always has the map handy to look out and identify the peaks when we stop. The low ceiling had lifted quickly giving us some great views.

We found a couple caches outside the park on our journey to a southern entrance. The trail to Blackrock includes a 1,500 foot climb with a nice stretch along the Appalachian Trail. The sign at the AT warns of copperheads. We thankfully did not spot any on our journey, but their were plenty of signs of bear using the AT in this area.

The PATC has an interesting way of attaching items to trees with reduced risk of damaging the trees (take note geocachers).

There were either multiple bears along the trail or one very active one.

The views of the nearby peaks are outstanding on the ascent to Blackrock.

The moss growing on the rocks indicates there isn't much movement on this impressive talus slope. The rock slope has removed most of the vegetation leaving a long view.

Usually when we visit in September wildflowers are still visible on the trails. This year there fewer flowers but one remaining stand on our returning hike gave us an opportunity to see a few butterflies stopped for late season feeding including one which almost never comes to rest for images. We stopped for a few more views before leaving the area.

Our next stop was the trail to Calvary Rocks. This wasn't a long hike, and there were nice views at Calvary Rocks. Ali searched for the answers for an earthcache at the site while I played on the rocks. Without her efforts for earthcaches we would have few or no earthcache finds, but she can make the pages interesting.

We ended our day with a quiet stop at another overlook as the sun slipped down.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

14 September 2014 On to Shenandoah

Ali had seen a hospital's stethoscope wrapped around an apple the prior evening. We were driving past this morning when I noticed there was a regular cache on the grounds. We located a nice walking trail where the cache was hidden. We didn't expect to also spot a very nice green heron alongside a small pond beside the trail.

We looped back to a favorite farm market for apples and a pie before pushing south. While at the market we played around by the displays on the grounds.

We had time on our journey to make a stop at Sky Meadows State Park. We enjoyed the trails and the caching. Our first find was in an area filled with woodpeckers. We had a good laugh over the extremely oversized benches in the park.

We enjoyed a quiet ride from Front Royal to Skyland along Skyline Drive. It was a clear afternoon giving super views as we revisited many of the overlooks. Ali picked the view or Rocky Gap to stop and enjoy a perfect sunset.

The clear day moved into a clear, star-filled evening. The view of the stars from our deck was wonderful.