Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Hiking and Praying the Rosary on North Mountain

After several days of rain and more expected this week, we decided we'd better grab today's good weather and head out for a short hike. Since we've haven't really hiked or even walked much this season we decided to do a one-hour hike into the woods and a one-hour backtrack along the Tuscarora Trail beginning at Route 55 on the Virginia/West Virginia border. On this particular trail that's about 3.5 - 4 miles. (We estimate about half an hour per mile on a medium difficulty trail.)

Since the mountain laurel are in bloom we hoped to get a great show, but except for some bushes at the beginning of the hike they were few and far between and mostly well into the woods. But it was a great two hour walk with some lovely wildflowers that always make me think of Matthew 6. "Solomon in all his glory is not arrayed as one of these!" If you need a lift, go hiking in God's beautiful world. Even before we reached the trail my heart was singing. And once we got started, it was a delight from start to finish.

The Tuscarora trail is blue-blazed and the blazes are helpful. In some places the path was completely overgrown, although it would be hard to get lost because, at this point, Tuscarora runs along the ridge of North Mountain which isn't very wide in many places. We could see down into the valleyoccasionally through the trees.

We were out on the trail about six weeks ago for a short walk without our hiking gear, but these blue and white ties were new. They indicate that there was some kind of event up there on the trail. There was a 100 mile run going from the Shenandoah County Fairgrounds a few weekends ago and we wondered if this was part of their route. Seemed too far but 100 miles is quite a distance so I guess it was possible. There were about half a dozen on the two mile stretch we covered. A butterfly must have thought one was a flower. I tried to get a photo of it flitting around but couldn't get my camera out of my pocket fast enough.

So many beautiful wildflowers. These had lovely yellow stamens hanging down. They weren't abundant, but were like little ruby jewels popping up here and there along the path.

Some of the insects are as decorative as flowers. This fellow was agreeably still. There were some little blue butterflies flitting around like flying flowers, but they did not cooperate as well.

This fellow resembles a caterpillar, but instead of being fuzzy he seems to be wearing armor! Must be a warrior centipede. I can think of a few of our grandkids who would happily have collected him in a pocket.

I only saw this tiny golden star in one place along the path. What a little treasure!

I think this is a wild rose, another rarity as we walked along. It caught my attention on the way back. Hiking on a path where you have to retrace your steps is interesting, because the path looks totally different from the opposite direction. You notice different things about the trail and you see different flowers. You also have a different walk. We started from a gap so the trail was up, up, up until we reached the ridge where it was fairly level. On the way back it was down, down, down. The up is hard on your back; the down is hard on your knees. I was very grateful for my hiking polls!

If you come visit us at Camp Kreitzer, we will happily take you for a walk in the woods and a rosary of thanksgiving for the green cathedral. You can choose the difficulty of the trail from a handicapped accessible paved short hike to the Luray Valley overlook, to a five mile round trip to Kennedy Peak and back, to a walk along a stream, to one of the ridge trails on Massanutten or North Mountain. And if you are very good, we may take you to one of the  frozen custard/ice cream stands. Talk about a guilt-free reward at the end of the trail! Life is best when you take it slow and stop to smell (and photograph) the roses.

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