Saturday, June 5, 2010

Skyline Drive in June: Mountain Laurel Heaven

We've been taking care of our little granddaughter for the past two months while our daughter recovers from a serious knee problem, but yesterday was a rare day off and we took full advantage of it with a hiking trip up to Skyline Drive. A lot of the overlooks were closed despite the fact nobody was working. We passed at least eight with the entrance/exit blocked and only one place where anyone was working. Seems a little crazy, eh? But there were signs everywhere saying, "You're recovery dollars at work." Was that a metaphor for the ineffectiveness of the stimulus? It was more than a little annoying because several of the hikes we planned required parking at overlooks that were closed. Ah well, we just shifted to other spots. There are certainly plenty of hiking trails in the park.

First we did a 1.5 segment of the Appalachian Trail from Fishers Gap which took us through large sections filled with mountain laurel in full bloom. One portion was actually a natural tunnel with laurel on both sides creating a lovely bower overhead. I thought how beautiful it would be with a bride and groom standing under. What a sight!

This trail also had some overlooks offering spectacular views to the west. It was a little hazy but still beautiful.

We decided not to backtrack on the trail, but did the second 1.5 miles on the road walking back to the car. It's an entirely different experience from driving. We saw two dear crossing the road who paused to look at us. We kept our eyes peeled for bear, but no luck there although we did see a large pile of scat in the woods that was probably a bear's. Undoubtedly our quest for bear failed because we didn't bring our bear charm. Grandson Brendon who has been with us twice when we saw bears.)

Our second hike was the Trace's Trail from Matthew's Arm Campground near milepost 22. Interestingly, while it was also a walk in the woods like the first hike, there wasn't any mountain laurel at all, but lots of tiny wildflowers which I enjoyed photographing. I need to pull out my wildflower book to identify them.

We finished our day with dinner in Front Royal on the way home and the determination to come back very soon. If you are 62 you can buy a senior pass that is good forever at all national parks. It's the best buy in the country since it comes with breathtaking views, refreshing foot bathing in the many waterfall pools, fresh air, and an endless supply of unforgettable moments. Skyline Drive is worth a visit if you do nothing else in the state. But we don't recommend that. Who would want to miss the Virginia vineyards and all the wonderful historical sites.

Y'all come.

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