Somehow, we managed to live as avid hikers in the DC area for ten years without ever making it to Shenandoah National Park. My college alumni club went to the park to hike Old Rag, its most popular peak, twice a year, but I never was able to join the group (it seemed I was always out of town, or running a race, or pregnant, when they would go). Nor did we ever get there on our own. Since we love the outdoors and love national parks, this was a huge omission that I was determined to correct as soon as possible when we moved back. And a few weeks ago, that’s what we did!
The most important agenda item for our weekend in Little Washington was a hike in Shenandoah. Steve and I both researched trails and decided on the trail to Mary’s Rock. Boots on the ground, and let’s go!
We hiked through beautiful wooded trails and I checked out the ferns on the forest floor, thinking of the words from the Shenandoah National Park foliage report the weekend prior to our visit:
Ferns are turning gold –their kelly green fronds brushed lightly now with gold dust, but transforming frond tip by frond tip into the cinnamon and milk chocolate tones they’ll wear in winter.
(Whoever the park has writing the fall foliage reports needs an immediate raise. I felt like I was reading Henry Beston.)
We passed by the foundation of an old cabin, chimney still intact. I love stumbling upon visual treats like these, and speculating on who lived here and what their lives were like.
Finally, we made it to the first overlook. We spent a few minutes just drinking in the views of the gently rolling slopes and valleys laid out below.
From there we hiked on up to the ridge leading to Mary’s Rock, but after about half a mile, Steve and I looked at each other and conceded that we had to turn back without summitting. A cold wind was whipping all around us, and while we were fine, the kids were both crying in the backpacks. (Being smaller, and not working up a sweat the way we were, they were feeling the wind.) It just wasn’t our day. As soon as we got down off the ridge and back into the more sheltered forest, both kiddos perked up. And before too long, one of them sacked out. Too cute.
On our way back down the mountain, we stopped to drink in more gorgeous views of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Marveling at this view ^ Steve remarked, “Now I see why they call it the Blue Ridge.” Indeed!
Longtime readers may recall that Steve and I both grew up in or near the Adirondack region in New York State. I lived in Albany, slightly south of the mountains, and spent countless days at my family’s cabin on the Great Sacandaga Lake. Meanwhile, Steve was in Glens Falls, in the Adirondack region itself. We both consider the Adirondacks an important part of our personal stories. On this trip, we talked about how much we want our kids to grow up with the Blue Ridge Mountains meaning to them what the Adirondacks meant to us.
I guess that means we’re just going to have to go back soon and often. That shouldn’t be a problem!