an anniversary trip to west virginia: the skyline drive of shenandoah national park

Friday, November 4:  We’re on our way this morning to Fayetteville, West Virginia to get away for a three-day weekend before the U.S. election on Tuesday.  It’s a trip to celebrate my birthday (Oct. 25), belatedly, and our 28th anniversary (Nov. 13), early. We decide on our way down south, we’ll drive a portion of Skyline Drive from Front Royal to Thornton Gap.

The view from Skyline Drive
The view from Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive is the scenic roadway that winds 105 miles through Shenandoah National Park, in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia just west of Washington, D.C.  There are only four entrances to the park; we take the northernmost one, getting off at the next one south.  We have a long way to go to get to our destination in West Virginia, but we want to see some of the fall colors.  Thus we take the slower route for about 28 miles.

Skyline Drive views
Skyline Drive views

We’re so glad we do because it’s a gorgeous day and we’re rewarded with some marvelous vistas.

the valley from Skyline Drive
the valley from Skyline Drive
dappled valley
dappled valley

Forty percent of the park (almost 80,000 acres) is designated as a wilderness area; it represents one of the largest wilderness areas in the eastern United States and has about 500 miles of hiking trails, according to Shenandoah National Park – Skyline Drive: What to See.

autumn colors
autumn colors

It’s surprising to see so much color on the trees in early November; usually the trees are further past their prime at this time of year.

broad sweeping colors
broad sweeping colors
the valley
the valley
me along Skyline Drive
me along Skyline Drive
orange galore!
orange galore!
a tree amidst flames
a tree amidst flames
stark tree
stark tree
profile
profile
etchings
etchings
hillsides in flames
hillsides in flames
white bark trees
white bark trees
overlooking the valley
overlooking the valley

We enjoy our drive immensely, stopping at the numerous pull-outs for sweeping views.

a dramatic scene
a dramatic scene
rich orange hills
rich orange hills
a beacon of orange
a beacon of orange
valley views
valley views
views along Skyline Drive
views along Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
Skyline Drive
a stand of trees
a stand of trees

Finally, we exit the beautiful park and head south on Interstate 81, in route to cross the state line into West Virginia.

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a hike at white oak canyon

Friday, April 18:  This morning, we go for a hike at White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park.  This four-hour hike follows along a flowing stream and leads to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the park.  This is the best time of year to go on this hike because of the high water levels from the spring melt-off.

Adam prepares for hiking
Adam prepares for hiking
White Oak Canyon stream
White Oak Canyon run
streams
White Oak Canyon Run
water flowing down the mountain
water flowing down the mountain
boulder crossing
boulder crossing
Adam
Adam

The only bad thing is that I’m exhausted from an overnight stay Thursday night at American Sleep Clinic. I’ve been having sleep problems lately, and last night at the clinic was not at all restful as I was hooked up to a bunch of wires. I am wiped out before we even start out, and the fact that the first half of the hike is uphill doesn’t help one bit.

ferns and rocks
ferns and rocks
waterfalls
waterfalls
Upper and Lower White Oak Falls
Upper and Lower White Oak Falls
Lower White Oak Falls
Lower White Oak Falls
Upper White Oak Falls
Upper White Oak Falls
ferns in black & white
ferns in black & white

Luckily, it’s a beautiful day, weather-wise, with a nice cool breeze.  Sadly, the green hasn’t really come out on the trees yet, so it’s a little browner than I would have liked.  But we do find a few glimpses of color here and there.

little white flowers
little white flowers
Adam crosses a log bridge
Adam crosses a log bridge
stream bed
stream bed
boulder crossing
boulder crossing
standing water
standing water
flowers
flowers
Adam
Adam
White Oak Canyon stream
White Oak Canyon stream
Old Rag Cottage
Old Rag Cottage
Redbud at Graves Mountain Lodge
Eastern Redbud at Graves Mountain Lodge

Needless to say, when I return home, I take a long hot bath and then drop off to sleep for an early night. 🙂

 

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leaving monterey

Monday, October 14:  This morning, I have coffee and some Apple Scrapple from Great Harvest Bread that I brought as a gift for Annette and Dan.  I guess it’s pretty bad when you bring a gift for someone and then you end up eating a lot of it!  I enjoy our chat.  I’ve learned a lot about their lives and their farm, the Allegheny Mountain School that I’ll recommend to my son Adam, their own Permaculture certifications and yoga training, and the lifestyle they’ve chosen.

Welcome to Monterey, and farewell!
Welcome to Monterey, and farewell!

After breakfast, I take off to drive back to northern Virginia, leaving the pretty fog-sprinkled Allegheny Mountains behind, and crossing over the Shenandoah Mountains.

Outside of Monterey, VA
Outside of Monterey, VA
barn with silo near Monterey
barn with silo near Monterey
leaving Monterey
leaving Monterey
a creek in the mountains
a creek in the mountains
a creek in the Allegheny Mountains
a creek in the Allegheny Mountains
barn in the valley
barn in the valley
in the Shenandoah Mountains
in the Shenandoah Mountains
interesting ground and tree cover in the Shenandoah Mountains
interesting ground and tree cover in the Shenandoah Mountains
foggy Shenandoah
foggy Shenandoah

I arrive home with one day left of my four-day weekend, and I spend the next day working for over 3 hours, entering Midterm marks for my students.  This job is eating me alive!

 

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