Cruising along Skyline Drive it occurred to me that maybe this hike wasn’t going to be the hike I had conjured up in my mind yesterday. At that time, I sat on the edge of my bed, maps spread out around me and Sidekick Pauli sprawled beside me catching rays from the afternoon sun.
Now I found myself facing mountains that still showed vestiges of winter. I pulled over no less than three times along the drive just to look, gaze in wonderment, lost in the beauty of Shenandoah. I decided we would hike where the snow still lingered.
I had been headed to Elkwallow Wayside, but stopped short when I got to Overall Run Falls trail head. Yes! We ARE STOPPING RIGHT HERE!!! The trees were all sporting a fresh layer of rime and the trail was perfect with about an inch and a half of dry snow. Oh, it was gorgeous! Like *gasp* gorgeous!
I took a look at the map and started down the AT to Elkwallow, I would decide whether to backtrack or loop once I got there. Sidekick Pauli was hiking with me today and is still sporting a pretty good scar down her neck…so it just depended on how she was doing when we got to Elkwallow.
The AT to Elkwallow Wayside is a fairly moderate hike with a view that was nice! Sidekick Pauli scrambled up the rocks and stared into the distance with satisfaction. Oh, she was definitely happy to be back on the trail! This was our only overlook, although, there were nice forest views along the way. We passed over Skyline Drive on the AT, then headed slightly up before passing the PATC Range View cabin and descending to Elkwallow Wayside.
At Elkwallow, we took a detour down to the picnic area…for a pit stop. While I was, um, otherwise engaged a family had driven up to also use the bathroom. Apparently, this was the only bathroom open in the area. When Sidekick Pauli and I exited the bathroom they just lost it. They were gabbing away in a language not understood by me. They were simply in fits!! I didn’t get it, what the heck, haven’t they seen something like this before??? I heard their laughter and felt their pointing until we disappeared into the woods. Haha! Glad I could add something to their Shenandoah memory!! 😀
Sidekick Pauli was loving it! I decided to loop down to Matthews Arm campground, then climb back up to the AT via the Traces & Tuscarora Overall Run Trails. The weather had warmed a bit and there was no snow on the Elkwallow Trail down to the campground. A nice picnic on a damp log awaited us! Sidekick Pauli gobbled down several of Queen V’s home made doggie treats!! I made do with a PB&J. 🙂
The birds were rocking out while we sat there in the middle of the otherwise quiet woods. Lovely to listen to but my butt was getting wet…time to move!
Soon after crossing the bridge we reached Matthews Arm campground. We found the Traces Trail after crossing the parking lot. This trail starts to climb, and the climb goes on, and on. Maybe it was because I left this piece of trail for last…but man, oh man, that climb! Between 800 and 1000 feet! To say I was happy to reach the snow line would be an understatement! Whew!!
I reached the car and began getting ready for the drive home. Took off the layers, traded out the hiking boots for sandals, did a few not helpful stretches, grabbed the cheezits…
While storing my bag, boots, and clothes in the back of the car, a ranger pulled up. “Hey, just wanted to let you know there is some weather coming in overnight so we are going to be closing Skyline Drive.”
No problem, ranger! We are ready to go! Hike on!