I started on the AT along the parkway today.
A house foundation with fireplace
On a brighter note
See a face in this tree trunk?
Took a zero today and visited my med school alma mater, the University of Virginia.
The Rotunda had been under renovation for 3 years and just opened to the public today…hmmm
Just below the dome
Twin towers (tulip poplars)
Wild iris seed pods
Porcupines chew wood – hence the barbed wire
? 4 leaved poison ivy?
Is that a pine cone or a pineapple?
Milkweed seed pod
Just finished the last leg of the 100+ mile SNP – kind of sad, since this place has so many memories for me from my many years living in Virginia, and the weather has been so nice – and I got to hike with Paula and Brian.
Today was a rainy, foggy, magical day
As I crested this hill, I saw a hiker in the distance (you can barely see her in the photo). What I did not see was her big white friendly dog who had just been sprayed by a skunk. Why do I ever pet dogs???
Today I was joined by my medical school classmate Brian Wilder. He drove up from Charlotte NC to hike with me and to visit his son, Hogan, a student at UVA. He covered over 10 miles with a pack weighted with over 20 pounds of water. We had a remarkably similar pace and had some great discussions about politics, family, and friends. Then he gave me all the water he had carried as I set off on my own again
Saw some nice things along the way
Just realized these two great photos didn’t upload yesterday
They were taken after our final hike. Paula had just completed her longest hike (10 miles)
The trees along this part of the AT are primarily deciduous, and primarily oak and hickory. As you hike, acorns and hickory nuts are coming down constantly
The trail passes over the Skyline Drive a couple time a day with some nice views
Some pretty flowers and plants
And a cheerful white blaze
We also found some ginseng
And some Indian cucumber.
We had a gorgeous, clear day
We met HIO (Hog on ice), and he introduced to his customized chair/sleeping hammock
More chicken of the woods
A red maple leaf
It was GREAT to have Paula join me for the past five days. She didn’t even get annoyed when I kept stopping to look at birds and plants!! I invited her to come back soon.
Back to hiking solo,
Let’s start off with another video
This crayfish was found while turning over rocks in a small stream on the AT.
Also uncovered this red backed salamander
Paula found another friend
She loves walking sticks (the insect type)
The trail (and the trail queen)
Some have asked what the bear may have been eating in yesterday’s video. I’m told they eat black cherries and acorns this time of year.
Guess what this guy preferred?
A two headed mushroom – I’ve never seen one of these:
Its nut in the husk
One parting image
Time for bed,
Rolled in to Big Meadows today and was treated to a nice view of a bear about 50 yards away. Tried to capture some of the event on video
Paula was with me and got to see her first bear. She was calmer than I was when I saw my first.
We hiked nearly 9 miles from Skyland to Big Meadows – she hiked faster than me most of the way – very impressive!!
More “Chicken of the Woods” today – it’s become my favorite mushroom
A couple flowers waiting to be identified.
Views of the Shenandoah Valley
A late violet
Some scary bee nest:
All for now,
These last two days have been exciting, with visits from, and encounters with, some incredible folks.
First and foremost, my wife, Paula, flew out from Arizona to join me for 6 days of backpacking. Her sister Marcia and husband Patrick joined us, as did my great friend, Trueman.
We stayed at a B&B in Washington VA
Then, Paula and I made the acquaintance of Stumbledwarf, a retired military specialist from the U.K.
He charmed us and amused us with stories from the trail and from his career in the military
Check out his website and AT videos – Google “Stumbledwarf”
My friend Trueman headed back to Arlington VA on Sunday morning. While hiking south toward Skyland after Trueman’s departure, we ran into his wife, Kim, on the AT, finishing up a 3 day hike with a group of friends – another crazy coincidence.
Finally, this evening, Paula and I hiked to Skyland in Shenandoah NP, and checked into a cabin to dry out after getting soaked in a thunderstorm last night and this morning.
While checking in, I met a fellow who turns out to be Diné (Navajo) from Kaibeto. First Navajo person I’ve met on the AT!!
His name is Rodney Fowler and I got a chance to practice my limited Navajo language skills with him.
My wife, Paula, did superbly on her first two days of backpacking in SNP
In addition to all that, we saw a lot of nature’s beauty.
“Viewpoint” of the Shenadoah Valley – socked in with fog after the storm
Ending the day (and ending the storm) with a beautiful sunset