Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation Day 2 – The Appalachian Trail

We again woke up very early to get a good start on the day and make the 1.5 hour drive up through the mountains to enter the Shenandoah National Park.  Here at the park we plan to do two days of hiking along the Appalachian Train and stay each night at a lodge located in the park.  We meet up with our shuttle driver, drop off our luggage at the first lodge and then the shuttle driver drops us off at Lewis Mountain, the beginning of our hike.  Less than 10 minutes into our hike, we come across this:


She just stood there and watched us and then went back to eating.  We were probably less than 20 feet away, but she didn’t let that bother her too much!  It was crazy how close the wildlife there would let you get to them. 


We hiked a bit more, finding lots of beautiful lush forest to refresh our senses and beautiful overlooks to delight our minds with the majesty of God’s creations.


Then we came to the scariest part of our day.  The rock scramble.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Just a little scrambling over some rocks.  Sure, I’m up for that.


Started out not so bad.  But then we were going higher and higher and I was noticing more and more how far we would fall if either of us were to slip on these very uneven steep rocks. 


My heart was pumping, the adrenalin flowing, and I was feeling a bit like this:


But I will say that while it was a little crazy in the middle of doing it, the view was amazing and completely worth the effort.


After finally making it down off the rocks, we hiked along some pretty even slightly declining trails, that I figure were our reward after that insane scramble across the rocks.


But then the trail began to climb, and climb a little more, and a little more, until I was asking Nathan to stop about every 5 minutes to give me a breather.  I thought that I had gotten myself into pretty good shape before this trip – I was WRONG.  Hiking up a mountain is HARD!!!!!!!!!!!  But when we finally made it to the top we found a little overlook called “Hazeltop” and sat down and had our trail lunch.  Seriously, you can’t beat a view like this for lunch:


All along the trail these lovely wildflowers grew.  Aren’t they beautiful?


After finally making it about 9 miles, almost to the lodge, we decided to take a side trail and go down to see this waterfall.


By this point in the day, my feet were killing me.  So we stopped off by the stream that fed the waterfall to give our feet a little soak.


That water was so cold that you could only leave your feet in there for about 10 seconds before you had to pull them out!!!!  It certainly make them feel better though, because after 10 seconds in the water your feet were feeling pretty numb!


After a crazy steep hike back up from the waterfall (I was almost dying by this point) we finally made it to the lodge, checked in and then took a shower in the tiniest shower ever.  I’m not really that big of a person, but I was feeling pretty claustrophobic in this thing.  All in all, we walked 13 miles that day.  I think we were nuts.  And my body was screaming at me!  Gladly though for all the tininess of cabin we stayed in that night, at least the food was delicious!!!  And the view just beautiful.  It was so interesting to watch a rain storm blow through the valley while we sat completely dry up on the mountain.IMG_3676


Janie Mueller said...

These pictues are BREATHTAKING! Oh! that looks like a wonderful trip. Can't wait for tomorrows pictures!

Gretchen said...

I'm loving your trip!!!! beautiful scenery and wonderful written account of the trip.

Stacy said...

Wow, that last one is amazing... well, they are all amazing actually! Pretty sure I would die.

Laurel Shaw said...

So beautiful!!
I climbed a mountain when i was 22 with my brothers in New Hampshire. It KILLED me then!!! I think the only thing to get you ready for mountains IS mountains! They are tough!
But like you said, Well worth it!
I think I'm going to start planning a trip for me and Chris! WE are so JEALOUS!

Mandi said...

Oh you take the best pictures ever. I felt like I was there with you. I am so impressed you made it up and then down the rock scramble. That would scare me to death! I cant wait to see tomorrows pictures. Nothing like the mountains to remind you of all heavenly fathers little treasures we have to look at. I bet though that you have never been more happy for your bed and shower.

Lea Whittaker said...

Sounds fun! I don't know if you can prepare for a hike like this....it is always going to be hard:) It feels so good to accomplish it though! Look forward to hearing about the rest of your time!

Pam said...

You definitely get my respect for such craziness as hiking in the mountains! : )
Loved seeing the pictures, but hard to choose a favorite since they're all beautiful. The picture of the deer is so wonderful and serene, and I love the spectacular view of your last picture in the valley with the rain.

minnieshuler said...

Loved it all. Mama