Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shenandoah National Park

We've been pretty busy lately! September started with my birthday and Andrew coming home after six months away!!! We dove right into a housing project (which I'll post about later).
But, we also went camping!
 We planned to camp in Ohio, but last minute we decided to go down to Shenandoah National Park. We are so glad we did, the seven hour drive was worth it! We camped at Lewis Mountain, towards the center of the park, but I'll talk about the campsite more later.
The first night, we set up camp and made stew for dinner while the fog and mist settled in around us. We arrived Monday and the forecast for Tuesday was 100% rain, and it got there early. By the time we were done cleaning up dinner, it started to come down and we called it a night and curled up in our tent.
Rain...rain...rain. All night, we woke up quite a bit due to the wind and pelting of raindrops on our tent. We stayed dry though, we're very happy with our REI Halfdome tent.
We woke up early (still pouring rain) and decided we'd go eat breakfast at the Big Meadow Lodge. It was delicious and worth not cooking in the rain. We needed gas and drove from Big Meadow north out of the park. Stopping at the Harry F. Byrd Visitor Center along the way. Can you see the rain in that picture??
Along our drive we realized that the rest of the park was exposed to way more wind than our campground. We even encountered a tree across the road. Instead of turning back, Andrew and I got out of the car and moved it ourselves. We felt pretty badass. Sadly, I didn't take pictures of it across the road. But, you can see where it came off the rocks and to the other side.

After getting gas, ice and a car-charger for Andrew's cell phone we went back the way we came and had a few nice moments of no rain.

That's when we decided we'd go for a hike, it was barely sprinkling and we just had to get out of the car. We were right by White Oak Trail, and decided to do that. We ate a quick lunch in the car and headed down. Just before we stopped at the Skyland Lodge and I bought a rain jacket (such a good idea).
Not 500 feet down the trail it started to rain...then pour. We hovered under some pine trees for a few minutes hoping it would slow down but it never did. So we just pressed on. 
 Within minutes, exposed skin was soaked through. But the trail was very pretty...and there was no one else on it.
 You wind your way down, coming close to the water from time to time. I was pretty happy with my gift shop rain jacket, it kept me pretty dry up top. My jeans soaked through in minutes though.
We saw lots of salamanders!! I've never seen a salamander in the wild and I was silly excited about every one. It was too wet to stop and get any pictures of them though.
 Finally, we made it down to the falls, this was only the first leg of the longer hike, but we decided we should head back.
 Despite the pouring rain, it was gorgeous. The rain probably made the falls even more impressive.
So, after a Cliff bar, we headed back up to complete the 3.6 mile trek in the rain.
We headed back to camp for hot showers and dry clothes. Then decided we didn't feel like cooking dinner in the rain either and went back to the lodge for a delicious, hot, filling...and so yummy dinner.
 All in all it was a good day in the rain. Originally, we had planned to leave on Wednesday but the weather was supposed to be perfect and we decided to stay another day so we could hike in the sunshine. And Wednesday turned out to be gorgeous...but there are pictures and another post for that.

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