Well, I am pretty happy to say I had a very successful and amazing time getting back out for a few days in the backcountry of Shenandoah National Park this past week! It felt great to get back there this Spring as I was unable to make it there last year during this time. And as always, Shenandoah did not disappoint in the least!
I arrived on a very wet, foggy day to find the true freshness of Spring revealed in the cleansing rain. It was magnificent! The Park is so alive right now with bright green, beautiful white Dogwood blooms, early season wildflowers such as violets and wild geraniums, gushing waterfalls thundering in Spring flood, and although a great many were beginning to leaf, there was still a lot of purple between 1,000-2,000 feet elevation from the Redbuds! I spent both of my nights in different parts of Shenandoah's Federally Designated Wilderness areas - the first, off of the Mount Marshall Trail, which was a new trail for me, and the second... Yep, I couldn't resist the calling of my home away from home off of the Tuscarora/Overall Run Trail. Both hikes also included short stints on The Appalachian Trail, always a cool feeling to set foot on :-)
After a damp, but glorious first night, the remaining day and a half I spent there was wonderfully warm and sunny with cool breezes carrying wafts of wild Lilac through the air. Talk about bliss! All in all, I covered roughly 12 miles, taking in the delights of the Spring mountains. I caught my first glimpse of a Shenandoah Salamander(a species only found here), making friends with him in the rain on my first night. I heard a pair of Barred Owls hooting "Who Cooks For You, Who Cooks For You All" across the forest at each other in the night. The morning and evening chorus of birdsongs added extra serenity to spending time with the Dogwoods and Wildflowers. And the rushing flow of the waterfalls was a welcome refreshment to the spirit.
I wrote in my journal on my second morning, something profound, yet so true in relation to my thoughts of what I may hope to see and photograph while here... "You can plan for this, you can plan for that, but you can never prepare for what Nature will show you." She is full of surprises and wonder and challenges, all of which are good for the soul. Until next time, my beauty...