Saturday, 10 October 2009

These boots are made for hiking...

My last serious hiking boots disintegrated in Algonquin Park in Canada in 2006 and apart from the mega hike in Fujairah earlier this year (which I managed with a new pair of trainers) I haven’t needed new ones…. until now. So it was great to find a store selling all sorts of cool stuff related to being in mountains just outside Waynesboro.

Five minutes up the road from the store was the entrance to the Shenandoah National Park which is a huge area in the Appalachian Mountains filled with forests, waterfalls, peaks, vistas and over 700 miles of hiking trails. The Skyline Drive cuts through the whole area and has lots of places to stop and look at views across the Shenandoah Valley and other mountain groups within the Appalachian range.

The only disadavantage is that getting out of the park to cheap motels involves serious driving so we decided to stay in cabins inside the park for three nights instead. This is much easier to acces the Trails and the new boots were well and truly tested, up and down rocky paths, through leafy forests and across stony creeks. The views at the top were awesome and at times we were really up in the clouds.

The fall colours were just starting to turn which meant that we got to see the variation without the crowds that descend in a week or so when the colours are fully out. It’s great being there midweek too as there’s no problem finding somewhere to stay and you almost always get the trails to yourself, especially the hard ones.

The Cedar Falls Trail was by far the hardest – very steep and very rocky – but there hasn’t been much rain this year so the water levels in the falls were pretty low. In general the more rain there has been the more spectacular the falls are. However, a very close encounter with a rattlesnake made the Cedar Falls rather more exciting than we’d anticipated. The snake fell down a rock and landed next to spouse’s foot. It was so sleepy that spouse assumed it was dead so didn’t panic. The snake then made a move towards the falls, rattled half-heartedly and slid into the water. It curled up and floated round for a while then made a spectacular if bizarre dive, straight down into the fall.

There were a lot of other wildlife encounters when we were out on other trails especially deer.....

...  chipmunks, squirrels, butterflies, very hairy caterpillars and we also caught a glimpse of a young black bear which was a real treat. In the end we only managed about 6 or 7 of the trails but a couple of them were pretty long and 6 hours hiking feels like a hell of a lot when you haven’t done it for while but this is always worth the pain....

1 comment:

  1. Woodruff Inns offers visitors to Virginia's Shenandoah Valley a luxurious and romantic respite from everyday life.

    Shenandoah National Park is also known for a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing, whitewater rafting, rock climbing, caving, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and hunting.