Monday, April 13, 2015
The days of anticipation were finally over. Our chariot for the trip, a 2007 Chevy Cobalt, had been fully stuffed and was ready to cruise us towards our first destination, Shenandoah National Park. After a brief stop at our old home in Northern Virginia, we arrived at our campsite, which was perfectly hidden in the woods of the Big Meadow’s Campground. While James was gathering fire wood, I heard some movement a couple yards away from our tent. First I thought it was just James, until something grey caught my eye. As I took a couple steps closer, I saw a huge turkey searching among the leaves for food. Now I understand, why the turkeys served at Thanksgiving are so huge, these birds are gigantic.
Still satisfied from our lunch from earlier in the afternoon, we decided to skip dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening in front of our campfire. We had a lot of hiking planned so want to get a good night sleep for an early start.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
We woke to the sound of rain drops exploding on our tent like popcorn popping during its finest minute. Discouraged by the gloomy sky, we slowly stirred and got ready for a long uneventful day in our tent, hiding from the rain. Soon bored by the idea of spending the rest of the day starring at each other, James suggested to stop by the park visitor center.
Driving towards the visitor center, we spotted one of the park’s camp stores, which conveniently had a restaurant attached. Stopping here was the best decision ever. The serving sizes were enormous. Our breakfast was served on two plates because the pancakes, which were just a side dish of the “Mountaineer’s Breakfast”, were bigger than my face. Unbelievable. Stuffed like pigs, we headed over to the Harry F. Byrd, Sr. Visitor Center, where we planned to veg for as long as possible. We happily stayed dry by watching a movie about the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and strolling through the interactive exhibition about Shenandoah’s history.
After receiving various hiking recommendations from the Park Ranger, we decided to bite into the sour apple and spend the day in the rain soaked woods. Due to the heavy rain and thick fog, we chose to trek the short, 6 mile Rose River Trail loop. After following the moss framed trail along the creek deep into the woods, a spectacular 70 foot waterfall awaited us. The constant rain had intensified the flow over the cliff’s edge, creating a feast for our eyes. It was truly spectacular. Note to self, rainy days make for great waterfalls. Further down the trail we spotted two fishermen catch a fish before we reached our second massive waterfall for the day. The vast amount of water cascading over the rocks was breathtaking. On our way back we took a quick detour to visit the headstones in the Cave Cemetery, which was tucked into the woods along the trail.
Even though we got soaked to the bones, and I had to blow dry my hair, shirt, and boots with a hand dryer, I felt extremely alive and invigorated after our hike. Unfortunately, James’ phone didn’t have such a splendid time and almost bit the bullet, but was luckily revived by a bag of steal cut oats. Back at the car we enjoyed a few cold beers, which were conveniently purchased at the camp store earlier in the day, while our soaking wet clothes dried on the dashboard.
The weather did not provide the greatest start of our trip, but we definitely made the best of it.