Where has June gone? It seems to have flown by and I feel lost without hiking. I feel like I had a lot more time to hike last year and I need it more this summer. Finally, I told my son that we were going to Shenandoah. I didn’t care what we did or what we saw but I needed the mountains.
As we drove there, we encountered a massive downpour. The kind where you can’t really see 10 feet in front of you. And then, as fast as it arrived, it left leaving blue skies and sunshine. Alas, no rainbow where I was. We continued on to the park and arrived at an overlook. I got excited, grabbed my camera and realized I had no memory card. GAH! As I silently cursed myself, I suggested we head to Skyland and see if it was still open. Thankfully, it was and I bought two tiny, overpriced memory cards. We made our way back to the Little Stony Man trail stopping at a few overlooks along the way. If you have never hiked up to Little Stony Man, I highly recommend it. It is a nice, short half mile hike. You can continue on to Stony Man or the Passamaquaddy Trail.
I was happy that there would be some clouds for the sunset. While we were on the trail, he let me know that he hikes with me to make me happy not because he enjoys it. My heart quietly broke. I know I should feel good that my son does something just to make me happy it also makes me sad. I felt like I was instilling a love of the outdoors in him and now I feel like a failure at that. All the times he was excited to plan our spring break hiking trip… the times he wanted to go explore… I thought he loved it. Maybe it is his age. He is 13 after all. I hiked in front of him trying not to cry (just as I am writing this right now). I attempted to focus on the “happy” part and kept going. We reached the small clearing at the cliffs. My son threw down the blanket and stretched out knowing he would have time to just chill while I snapped my photos. At first there were beautiful sunrays filtering through the clouds. It looked amazing even though I don’t feel like my photos do it justice. When the sun made an appearance, it was blazing bright. Almost too bright. I tried some new composition ideas (new to me) and am very pleased with how they turned out.
I finally switched my lens so I could get some close-ups. In the past, I’ve cropped because I never think to bring my zoom lens for sunsets. They are some of my favorite Shenandoah photos. I will repeat it over and over: I love the ridges and layers of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I am so happy with my shots and can’t wait to make prints.
My son finally joined me at the sunset. He sat on the rocks and looked out. We saw a Peregrine Falcon flying around and he couldn’t hide his thrill at seeing it. It wasn’t long before he went back to laying down. He has a fear of heights and the rocks turn into cliffs at that location. I went to set up my tripod and realized I had forgotten the nub for my camera. I swear I take photos on a regular basis! Truly I do! For some reason, I rushed packing my equipment this time. I had a specific idea for photos after the sunset but will have to return another time for those.
On the way home, I reflected on what my son said. I think I don’t believe him. I think he does love the outside. He may not enjoy long, difficult hikes, but I remember how excited he was for spring break. I know how happy he is when we’re out exploring. It wasn’t long before he was asleep and I drove home content with our afternoon and evening.
I hate cold weather. I don’t mind end of October when it is like in the 50s & 60s. I mind when it dips down to low 40s and below. I grew up in Michigan so I always get asked, “Don’t you like the cold?” Nope. I am writing this with a coat and large, bulky sweater covering my lap because my office is so incredibly cold.
I have a tradition of going hiking on Veteran’s Day. It is a day I have off of work but my kids still have school. I enjoy having the day to myself. This year, I almost didn’t go. I woke up and it was cold. Too cold. I got up and decided I would at least drive to Shenandoah to see if the colors had improved. I also wanted to stop at Buck Hallow Trail to photograph the stream that runs through that trail since it had rained a lot earlier in the week.
While I was photographing the stream it wasn’t too bad. I had on my hat, coat and gloves and was fine. If I had been hiking I would have been nice and warm. I figured, “Why not go and find a hike?” I drove along Skyline Drive wondering which trail to visit. I kept referring to my map and wasn’t deciding on anything. I started on one trail and the wind just about blew me off the mountain. I turned right around and went back to my car. Eventually I happened upon Little Stony Man. I got out and looked at the sign. It was a short hike to the view point so I decided that would be my hike. As I walked up the side of the mountain I warmed up nicely. The wind was minimal in that location. It only took me a few minutes to reach the Little Stony Man lookout area. And that’s when the wind hit me. It was far stronger than the other trail because you’re basically standing on the side of a mountain with no coverage. This is also the first time I’ve been on a rock formation in Shenandoah and didn’t want to look over. I presume this is why people go to climb. e
I took a few photos and headed back to my car. I blasted the heater and drove home. As I was driving I decided to stop at Ellanor C Lawrence Park. Someday I will explore more of this park as I generally hang around the creek and pond. The wind was still blowing but because of coverage it wasn’t too bad. I wandered around looking for something to photograph. I found a cool trail that I will probably explore at a different time. I was just too cold so I headed back towards my car.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a Blue Heron. They are probably my favorite bird. I have quite a few good photos of them. I went in all directions to photograph this bird. I got pretty close and have some beautiful shots of just its head.
Eventually I decided I would leave the bird alone and made my way back to my car. Because I hadn’t done a big hike I had time left in my day to relax. I do enjoy hiking in the winter. I like that posion ivy dies and I have more confidence to go off trail. I like finding birds without the leaves on the trees. But I really want spring to return because I am already tired of being cold.