Monday, September 21, 2009

A weekend away

Aimee is already trying to get away from me it seems as much as possible, so just a handful of weeks after she moved in she was gone again, hopping a plane for Nashville (for a friend's wedding of course). A number of months ago Brian and I had decided to spend the weekend out at his uncle's cabin in WV scouting the miles of trails on his property via mountain bike. Unfortunately we decided a bit last minute to skip the trip since his legs/back/lower body are still in perfect working order and my calf cramp turned out to be more of a strained muscle that lasted the whole of last week.

In the interim I'd decided to try my hand at a trail race up in Gunpowder Falls State Park, though once again the calf issues kept me from trying to push it too hard too soon. So, naturally I decided a back country trip to Shenandoah National Park was (finally) in order! After some negotiations with Brian and Jenny, B agreed to join me selecting what we believed to be a beginner friendly overnighter with some nice features for our enjoyment.

Brian laughs in the background while I yell at Cassie to "CALM DOWN! DO NOT FREAK OUT!

Brian notices my not-so-subtle attempt at a sneaky shot.

Saturday morning we loaded the dogs and our packs up in the truck and headed down 211 for the Hazel area of SNP just past mile marker 33 on Skyline. The small lot was nearly full but we got the only spot available, laced up our boots and headed down the trail. Some friendly debate ensued (and if you've spent much time around the two of us together you know that means a long and drawn out serious of "debates"/arguments) and we made our way DOWN HILL (emphasis for Brian... :) for a few miles before some rolling terrain finally a long moderately steep downhill section (quad burner) took us to the low point (topographically speaking) of the hike.

One tunnel like section of trail.

Cassie looking for bears with a handful of leaves changing behind her.

The trails were fantastic with most of the summer's greenery still remaining. There was an early splash of reds and yellows, more notable of course in higher elevation areas that left us with just the smallest taste of the fall foliage to come, wishing we could get back out over the coming weeks to see the leaves in all their glory.

An interesting tree trunk along the way. An obvious favorite of many a woodpecker.

At the base of the quad burner descent we saw a black bear crossing the trail about 30 yards down from us, quickly grabbed the dogs and watched with a little bit of awe as the bear made its way across the stream and up the other bank and out of view. I always hope to see a bear and other wildlife but usually just manage to catch a few deer grazing in the woods. It was cool to see this guy out there, though I'm sure we scared him as he seemed to pick his pace up when he noticed us.

About 5 minutes after that we found a great little campsite (sweet maybe his den in nearby!) by the stream where we set up camp and had a relaxing evening including some excellent pesto I'd found in Aimee's Lip Smackin' Vegetarian Backpackin' cook book. The night was a bit rough for me since after passing out hard while I read for a bit Cassie woke up and continuously moved around and paced for the majority of the remainder of the night.

Brian entertained me with his whistling rendition of Miley Cyrus' latest hit.

The stream and a neighborhood mushroom by our campsite.

Cassie showed the local sticks she means business while B's and my matching tents sit in the background shaking their inanimate heads.

The next day after a calm and leisurely morning and some grounds filled coffee we packed up and got back on the trail. The start of day two was basically a 3/4 mile straight up climb followed by a rolling ridge trail with plenty of up hill to regain all the lost elevation from the day before. There were a number of unexpected vistas along the ridge trail and eventually we came to the popular waterfall and cave trail which was reached by a steep tall stair step trail. The area was pretty and Cassie enjoyed a dip in the falls pool before we made our way back up to the trail.

Cass enjoys a dip in the cool water below the falls.

One of the days unexpected vista's, looking North back towards where we started.

We made our way back (UP HILL) to the parking lot and my truck, with the highlight of our return trip being Kona finding a particularly appealing pile of Bear poo to rub herself in. Our reward for a pleasant and beautiful hike was, of course a stop at the Qdoba near 29 and 66 on the way back.

All in all an awesome trip, though I'm pretty certain the two routes we'd chosen first would have been significantly less effort and climbing despite their longer distances. It's all relative!

I was vary happy to have Brian along for the company and banter and I hope I didn't bug him too much to do it again. The seclusion of backpacking alone, while great just can't beat a (successful) trip with a friend.

1 comment:

"El Carne" said...

Great Pics!!! I need a weekend like that.