Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Turk Mountain Shenandoah National Park

Friday my husband decided to go "camping" in the Shenandoah National Park.  The closest entry point is only 25 miles away from Forsythia Hill.  He departed with camping gear but ended up sleeping on a bed of rocks on top of Turk Mountain.

Along the path, nearing the summit.
Anthony wanted to show me his "boulder bed" so we decided to make a trek up Turk Mountain yesterday.  A 4.8 mile climb (round trip) that has a few challenges but is surmountable. Fairly gradual elevation until you get near to the top and it becomes increasingly steeper and more rocky but certainly passable.  It was a relaxing comfortable hike at 70 degrees.

A little bee enjoying Joe Pye Weed.
When you enter the Shenandoah National Park you do pay a $15.00 fee, good for 5 days, or you can purchase a year pass for $30.00.  Driving through the park, we began to see native flowers in bloom.  Pink-purple Joe Pye Weed, sprays of Goldenrod, and splashes of orange Touch Me Nots.  I could see long bloomed out remnants of summer blooming  Black Cohosh, Mountain Laurel, and Milkweed.  Once on the trail we enjoyed a path lined with brilliant green moss and dotted with ferns and mushrooms.

The Appalachian Trail weaves in and our of the Shenandoah National Park.  Partly because it was a Monday, we encountered only three hikers.  Two were enjoying the summit and had made the trip over from Richmond because their office was closed due to Hurricane Irene.  The other hiker was loaded up with gear and a dog so we concluded he was hiking the Appalachian Trail which shares the lower part of the Turk Mountain Trail.       

Anthony and The Summit.
After an leisurely hour stroll stopping along the way to watch Nuthatches and Downy Woodpeckers and listening to the elusive Pileated Woodpecker call in the woods, we climbed over boulders to reach the summit.  To steady yourself on the summit it is nice to have a buddy to hang on to.  It's quite amazing to walk through the deep forest and suddenly the world opens up to you on top of the mountain.  A truly beautiful view encompassing the rolling green hills of the Shenandoah Valley, Waynesboro, and the village of Crimora, Virginia.

While enjoying lunch on the summit, Swallows swooped and played all around us.  They must have been dining on the little nearly invisible bugs that were nipping at us - the only negative.  I had so wished I had remembered my binoculars and lavender oil bug repellent.  My husband had it right when he "camped", leaving all conveniences in the car, totally enjoying nature.


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