Quick before it starts raining again, let’s go hiking! I was all set to meet my hiking gals at the north end of the Dickey Ridge Trail (just outside of Shenandoah NP). Arriving a bit early, I busied myself with pulling on my boots, putting stuff in my pack, then leaned back in my seat to wait. BearSpray and Lola had pulled up behind me and parked. I happened to look up and “Oh, A BEAR!!!” I waved frantically at BearSpray hoping she see the bear too! She only caught the tail end of it as it lumbered into the woods. 😦
WELL, I have to tell you that got my hopes up very, very high for seeing another bear on our hike!
When the full crew had arrived we shuttled to the south end of the trail at Compton Gap. It was colder and windier than some of us had anticipated…fur lined gloves anyone?
So off we went into the woods, following a fire road to the beginning of the Dickey Ridge Trail!
I was hoping for wildflowers…and a view or two. Turns out the first mile was just trail and woods, a few common purple flowers, and wind. But so beautiful! The green in the forest was so fresh, and the blue of the sky was sublime. I kept optimistic! Spring had come late to my neck of the woods in Maryland, so I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t see much spring in the mountains. But still, it’s Mid May!!!
I was rewarded intermittently. Walk for awhile, then ooooo ahhhhhh, click click with the camera phone, move on!
Coming down into Low Gap, another trail crossed ours. There was no sign post, and we stopped for a minute wondering whether there might be a view if we took the trail to the left. We opted to move forward on the Dickey Ridge crossing Skyline Drive and up the next hill. I am still thinking about that trail to the left, though. I feel like someone had mentioned that trail to me before…but it’s gone now. Note to self to go back and explore later!
The wind blew us openings in the trees now and then allowing us to view the valley below us. Beautiful! A winter hike would afford some amazing vistas from this trail!
After several miles, we were wondering whether we would get an open view at all. After passing the Snead Farm Loop trail, there was a side trail that went steeply up. It looked promising so Buttercup and I made our way up and…nothing. Well, not nothing. We saw this building. Later I found out this was an FAA site (from the map).
Buttercup headed back down, then so did I …but then started yelling down to her “to the right, to the right!!!!!! Buttercup, to the right!” Yessssss! A payoff after walking through the enchanted green forest!
We were enraptured. Buttercup and I sat up on the hill, withstanding the cold wind while we ate our lunch, completely mesmerized with the view. BearSpray eventually came up to join us from below and was equally blown away (with wind and view)!
This spot is only about a mile and a half south of the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center, so very doable! One does need to climb up the hill, but seriously, worth it.
When we had gotten so cold we couldn’t stand it any longer we got back to trekking down the trail. Next stop the visitor center, then down the hill to our cars.
The last mile or so was surprisingly different and wonderful!
The birds were singing, families were out exploring, and there was a feeling of absolute contentment along this stretch. I felt I was being replenished after going up and down all those hills. 🙂
Sadly, no more bear sightings on today’s hike…but there is always next time! Hike on! 🙂