In correlation with yesterday's blog pertaining to Earth Day and National Parks Week, guess where I'll be while you're reading these posts Monday April 24th-Wednesday April 26th this week??!
Well, if you guessed Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, you are correct! Yep, I'll be dusting off the backpack and getting back out on the trail for a few days as I make my annual Spring migration to Shenandoah to soak in some of the best Mother Nature has to offer in honor of Earth Day! As I write this, I am still in debate as to where exactly I'll be hiking these few days, but if I am lucky I may just catch the magnificent display of Redbuds and Dogwoods in the Park's Northern District before the blooms are over. And who knows, I may just have to go visit my "home away from home"...
"This backcountry locale in my "backyard" National Park, Shenandoah, has become a home away from home for me. Since the first time I camped near this serene waterfall I have returned more than half a dozen times to date (and only planning on adding to that over the years to come). Right here, I have enjoyed some of my most profound and intimate moments of experiencing immaculate Mother Nature. And the fact that it lies within a section of Shenandoah's Federally designated Wilderness, makes it even more special. Hiking 3.5 miles in darkness the night before, I awoke on my first morning here and rolled out of my hammock, slid down the carved out hollow right next to me and photographed this magical moment at dawn. The most amazing black bear encounter of my life has taken place right here, as a young juvenile played and foraged for nuts in late Autumn not more than 20 yards from me for a good 10 minutes or so! I have been here in early Spring to celebrate Earth Day and seen these Falls booming at 2-3 times the volume you see here. At the perfect time in October, this forest is ablaze with Maples, Hickories and Oaks. And, every time, whether it be amidst the intoxicating smell of fresh Spring rain, or Autumn leaves in the cool air, and the deafening sound of the falls as I hear nothing but them aside from an occasional owl hooting, I can lean back and lose myself in dreams under the stars and the moonlight... This place soothes my soul, this is living folks, this is real magic!"