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.

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