In the Meadows High and Low

Sky Meadows is such a lovely state park in Virginia.  This park was a choice I made without a lot of thinking about it.  The weather was forecasted to turn cooler and I was in need of a walk alone…well, with Sidekick Pauli, but without other humans.  A total introvert retreat!

I parked away from the main parking lot.  Partly because I really didn’t want to see a lot of people yet, but partly because I needed to put my boots on, get my pack together, then get Pauli.  A bit easier without being in a tight parking lot.  So, I pulled right towards the picnic area just after paying my entrance fee at the gate.  No one was in this little lot yet!


I hadn’t parked here before and found it to be a great spot with easy access to the Hadow Trail.  We took this trail around the lower meadow.  What a glorious morning! The wildflowers were thick along each side of the trail and throughout the woods.  Goldenrod, thistle, and other beauties whose names elude me waved gently in the breeze making the background of blue skies pop as if I were looking at them through polarized lenses.  And the scent of Autumn wafted by occasionally making me burst with happiness!  The change in seasons is coming!




When the Hadow Trail intersected with the Boston Mill Road, we turned left to pick up the South Ridge Trail.  Well, I could tell it was still summer as the sun rose higher in the sky and we did the same.  Whew, broke a sweat!  Sidekick Pauli needed two water breaks before we made the ridgeline by taking the North Ridge Trail up the final ascent to the AT.



Once on the ridge it was just bliss.  The breezes picked up and even felt slightly chilly! We left the AT to swing around through the upper meadow to the Paris overlook.  I didn’t want to come down the mountain.  It was so lovely looking down on the surrounding countryside with my feet propped up and mind wandering.  Sidekick Pauli took up residence under the picnic table, coming out only for cheese.


It was here, my bliss bubble started to spring a leak.  This was September 11.  I had intermittently thought about that day on my way up the mountain.  Here at the top, my mind finally settled on those memories.  I didn’t lose anyone that day, thankfully.  But the day was awful and scary.  My son was 7 years old, so in a rare unification between his dad and me, we decided no media was the best media.  He knew what had happened before I picked him up from school, but as a 7 year old, he only knew so much.  He was scared too.  We lived in Bethesda, Maryland at the time, and the planes flew very low over the house all day.  My son would panic if we went upstairs because he was afraid the planes would fly into our house.  So unless we needed the bathroom, we stayed downstairs.  One of my sisters lived in New York, and of course, no way to know…but we figured she was fine…I mean, we reasoned, what would she be doing near the WTC anyway?  Another sister, who was a foreign service officer, was doing language training in Arlington.  She hitched her way back into Maryland, along with thousands of others.

It is a day I will never forget. The internet has made way too many images from that day too easily accessible.  I cannot un-see some of those images.  I can’t imagine the horror that first responders encountered.  I don’t want to even think about it.  So many people, in a flash, gone.


I once heard that one should not mourn the dead, but instead mourn the living.  Wait, that may have come from a Harry Potter book…no matter.

A rather big wind, that blew my pack off the table, brought me out of my dark trip down memory lane.  I packed up and we hiked down the mountain.  I felt sad and I felt happy, a strange way to be.  But as long as I am gifted with this life I intend on living.  Hike on.

AT – VA Rt 601 to 2nd Parking Area South of Sky Meadows SP

Riveting title don’t you think. 😉

Started early last Saturday (before the Labor Day Weekend) …Sidekick Pauli in tow.  We had the whole day to hike!  I found the Rt.601 parking lot without difficulty, but wow! what a drop off into the parking lot!  I switched out my sandals for hiking boots, grabbed extra water for Pauli, then headed down the blue blaze towards the AT.  Heads up, people, the heat was back in town!

Left turn onto the AT, then in about 0.2 of a mile we were cross Rt. 50, a major highway, which thankfully was pretty quiet this morning.  Sidekick Pauli was already in tongues out mode as you can see in the pic below!

On the trail just after cross Rt. 50.

On the trail just after cross Rt. 50.

The trail hugged Rt. 50 climbing gently until reaching the parking area on Liberty Hill Road.   Afterwards, the climb becomes more steep, but not unreasonable so.  I had plans to take the Old Trail (the old AT) up the hill and AT back down the hill.  I had never taken the Old Trail and had conjured up a trail that was overgrown, filled with briers and ticks, with a faint path leading through it.  I pictured faint or non-existent blazes on the trees…and quite honestly, I imagined getting lost!

The Old AT!

The Old AT!

I could not have been more wrong.  The Old Trail is marked clearly and often with purple blazes and the trail is pristine! What a nice surprise.  The only part I didn’t like was the multitude of spider webs spanning the trail.  Goodness, I must have taken twenty little spiders hiking with me…and their webs were in my hair, on my pack, everywhere.

A calm ascent up this little hill before the real heat of mid-day set in. Butterflies owned the pipeline where wildflowers were abundant.

Then it was back into the woods for a short stretch before we reached the AT. We were now in Sky Meadows State Park proper.

New colorful signs are replacing the old standard brown and white. I allowed myself a moment of nostalgia looking down at the classic brown and white sign that had been tossed to the side, then admired the brightly colored new trail marker with improved information.


We turned right, then took a nice sit down break at the intersection of the North Ridge trail. It is a proper resting spot with a bench! Sidekick Pauli crawled underneath finding a cool spot to rest and to keep a watchful eye on anyone coming up the trail. 🙂 My traildog!

The plan was to continue south to the first parking lot off the Thompson Wildlife Management Area. This would allow an easy starting point to continue this section at a later date. The PATC map showed Orchard Parking to be about another 0.7 miles, not too far.

I passed an overgrown path to the right and thought, “If this were Indiana, that would probably be the trail”…snarky I am at times…

After a while, I was more suspect that the overgrown path had indeed been the trail to Orchard parking, as I was not finding any other paths to take. I finally came upon a little sign with a tent symbol and, hallelujah! A PATC trail maintainer! I talked with him a bit and confirmed that I had passed the trail to Orchard parking. So, time to turn around and head back to route 601, this time following the AT through Sky Meadows.

It was such a beautiful day, and I was in no hurry since earlier in my hike I had dodged a huge bee…lost my footing, and fell, cracking my kneecap on a rock. Surprisingly, while it was plenty painful, enough endorphins were flooding the area to keep it manageable!

I was ever so pleased to get to blue blaze that took me back to my car!


Hobble…I mean, Hike on!

Spring Spectacular! Two Hikes with the Maryland Trail Dames

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Spring is finally here! I welcome the blue skies, green grass, spring flowers, and happy birds more than ever after the crazy winter we have had here in Maryland. So with a literal spring in my step I have headed out more than a few times over the last couple of weeks to take it […]