South River Falls in Shenandoah National Park

Shenandoah in the Morning

I did it!  I ventured out to hike in stupid cold weather.

I was determined to get out for a good hike. Being cooped up in my house was getting to me and not being in depressing. A couple of days before I went hiking the weather turned warm. Although all the waterfalls in Shenandoah National Park had previously been frozen I figured the warm weather would thaw them and water would be flowing nicely.  I was right. I had been wanting to go to South River Falls for quite some time and this was my chance.

When I arrived at the park my car said 5 degrees. And that was without the wind chill.  I was wearing:  1 thin pair of thermal tights, 1 pair of thick thermal tights, Darn Tough socks, a thin long sleeve shirt, a thick long sleeve shirt, a sweatshirt, and then a thick hoodie over all of that, a scarf, a hat, and mittens. I also had on my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes.  In addition to all of the clothes I had toe warms in my shoes and hand warmer in my bra and in my gloves.  Needless to say, I was set.

The wind was pretty bad at first. I kept putting the scarf over my face but then I’d get some of the scarf threads in my mouth and that was gross so I’d remove it. It was a never-ending battle. I finally made my way to the river and it was so pretty. The cascades had all sorts of ice around them and the water was flowing so good. Off to the right I saw a waterfall. It wasn’t on the map. I imagine that with all the trees and vegetation in bloom it wouldn’t even be noticeable. I wasn’t going to miss it through and bushwhacked my way over there stopping along the way for photos.  I will say that bushwhacking does keep you warm. I had to go over and under large tree trunks and find the best way through some thorny patches.  Once I got there it was difficult to get a good photo but I imagine if it had been less frozen it would have been beautiful.

I finally tore my away from the cascades and headed towards the South River Falls Overlook.  It was beautiful. I guess I’ll keep saying that but it was. And it was loud. The overlook provides a good view of the falls from up above. At the time, I wondered if I’d be able to get to the base of the falls.  There was a ton of ice around the overlook so I didn’t stay long. I certainly didn’t want to slip and fall (I had the trail completely to myself so getting hurt wouldn’t have been good).

I continued down the trail and looked at my map. There seemed to be a way to get to the base even though the write-up on Shenandoah’s page didn’t mention it. I eventually came to the portion of the trail where you can make a loop. However, the trail also went straight. I looked at the sign post and it said, “0.5 Base of Falls”.  I was happy and continued down the trail. As I made my way to the base I couldn’t believe how beautiful the cascades were. I wanted to photograph everything.

Eventually I got to the base. It was well worth it. Along the right side of the falls the mist had created frost on everything. It looked like a winter wonderland. I struggled to capture it because the sun had come out. I spent so long taking photos that I missed my opportunity to photograph the falls in shade. I took as much time as I could (before getting too cold) and took some time to just sit and marvel in the beauty. It is unbelievable to me that people don’t care about saving such precious places.

Eventually, I turned and worked my way back. I stopped for more photos of the cascades. I also instructed some others on how to get to the base. I think a lot of people don’t realize you can go there. I’m anxious to go back when it is warm.

Finally, I got to my car. I took off a couple of layers and started my long drive home. I think it was close to an hour before I turned down my heat. I, perhaps, finished thawing out a few hours later.

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About Jennifer G

Nature lover. Being outside keeps me sane and balanced.

Posted on January 22, 2018, in Shenandoah National Park, Waterfalls and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Amazing photos! Great job capturing such awesome shots with frozen fingers 🙂

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  2. Your photos are beautiful! This is such an amazing landscape.

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  3. Congratulations on the bitter winter hike. My husband and I have the fever to hike just not the time or fortitude right now!! We drove through the Shenandoah area today and started planning a little adventure in this area! This makes me even more excited!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wonderful!! Not having the time can feel frustrating and this weather certainly doesn’t help. I am definitely looking forward to spring and warmer temps! I’ll look forward to hearing about your hikes!

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  1. Pingback: A Return to South River Falls | Hiking Adventures

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