Tag Archives: camping

September 3-4 – driving home

I did something kind of foolish on this most recent trip to Louisville– I brought my camera along, but neglected to bring the spare battery or my battery charger, so almost immediately after arriving at my friend’s place in the city, the battery crapped out.  So, no pictures of my own for the rest of the trip, although I was able to go online and steal a few photos, which give a pretty good idea of what I saw over the past few days.

My weekend in Louisville was about reuniting with old, dear friends from college, and since that was my priority, I didn’t do much in the way of nature observation.  A few things I did notice– first, that it was quite hot in Kentucky, well over 90 degrees for the first few days I was there, hotter than anything we’ve experienced in Virginia this summer.  And, to start with, it was pretty dry as well, as the yellow, parched look of the vegetation could attest.  By my second day there, we started getting some incredible afternoon and evening thunderstorms, with lightning crashing down all around, torrential rain, and branches blown from trees.  One of my good friends, who had traveled all the way from Oakland for the trip, was delighted to get to experience some real southern summer storms.  Although the first storm was the most dramatic, we got some rain on all the rest of the days, and by the time I started home with my family, the temperatures had cooled off considerably and the ground was much soggier.

We took off on Tuesday morning, headed back to Virginia.  The first day we mostly stuck to the highway and tried to cover as much distance as possible, so that we could spend Wednesday cruising around and enjoying ourselves.  We ended our day in the Monangahela National Forest, in the central east part of West Virginia, close to the town of Richwood, at the Summit Lake campground, chosen purely on the basis of its name.  And Summit Lake was indeed a delightful destination– this site has loads of pictures of the lake, mostly later in the fall when the leaves are really changing colors.  On the day we were there, one day after the Labor Day crowds had departed, and we had the lake nearly to ourselves.  There was just the slightest hint of fall colors to the forest, and it was just cool enough to put on long sleeves as I cooked our dinner out on the boat dock.  For dessert, we found several autumn olive bushes, laden with ripe fruit.  While they aren’t as tasty as blueberries or mulberries or the like, they still made a nice fresh treat.  The lake in late afternoon looked much like this photo, although the fall colors weren’t nearly so far advanced:

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That night, we tented out in the campground near the lake.  It’s unfortunate that so many national forest campgrounds have hard gravel pads to pitch tents on, which really aren’t comfortable at all if you’re actually sleeping in a tent.  We were able to find a soft grassy area by the edge of our site that wasn’t too steeply sloped, and everyone slept reasonably well.  In the morning, our first stop as we headed on down the road was the Falls of Hills Creek scenic wayside, which is a really delightful stop, with a short but very steep trail leading to three separate waterfalls along a creek, which plunges into a narrow stony canyon.  The ground in the forest was soaked with recent rains, and I came across a lot of mushrooms, both familiar and unfamiliar.  One of the craziest looking types was what I’m pretty sure is the “sharp scaly pholiota”, which is edible, but easily confused with the poisonous “scaly pholiota.”  Seems like it’s not worth the risk to eat them, but they were really interesting-looking shrooms.

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The topmost of the three waterfalls wasn’t much to look at, but the middle and lower falls were much more impressive.  This photo, which I found on the internet, was very similar in season and water volume to the day we were there.  As far as waterfall scenery goes, I’d definitely give the middle falls an 8 or 9 out of 10.Image

The lower falls were even more impressive, with the water pouring off of a lip down into a bowl.  These falls are nearly 100 feet high, just a beautiful location.  This is another photo I found online, which shows the beauty of the location, although the day we were there, there was a lot more green and a lot less red and orange in the trees.Image

Just before turning back, I noticed a bear’s head tooth mushroom growing on a log, the first one I’ve seen this year.  It was a little one, which looked just like this one.  I didn’t pick it, as we weren’t going to be firing up the stove anytime soon, but if you ever find one that looks like this, it is an excellent edible, not likely to be confused with anything else.Image

Our next stop was the Cranberry Glades boardwalk trail.  This is a fascinating botanical find, a series of open boggy areas that sit in a high plateau at about 3800 feet elevation.  Many of the plant and animal species are more commonly found in New England and Canada; many of them are at the absolute southern limit of their natural range.  You can take a half-mile walk on a boardwalk that passes through some of the bog forests and through the open glades, with beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.  By the time we got there, in early afternoon, it had turned into a glorious early September day, sunny but not too hot, and our hike looked very much like this photo, which I also stole from the internet.  Image

The region is named after the abundant wild cranberry plants which grow in the glades.  We were able to find lots of wild cranberries, although it was still too early in the season for them to be any tasty.  The little white dots in the photo above were cotton grass, which was quite abundant; there was also a lot of purple mountain aster in bloom along with several colors of jewelweed.

Afterwards, we just spent the rest of the day driving through the fantastic mountain scenery of the Monongahela National Forest (in WV) and George Washington NF in Virginia.  I wish my camera had worked, as it was a very scenic drive on a perfect, clear day.  We took a few stops here and there, most notably at the Tea Creek Campground, where the boys and I took a dip in a mountain stream that wasn’t the one pictured below, but sure looked a lot like it.

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And, by 8:30 in the evening, we were back at our Twin Oaks home in Virginia, where my tale will continue, just as soon as I get around to writing it…

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August 29 – on the road

This will probably be a long post, but it’s been a long day, so here goes…

Last night, I left Twin Oaks right around 6, with the idea that I’d cover some ground and wake up in the mountains, rather then spending the first morning driving out of central Virginia.  So I drove into the night, and wound up in the George Washington National Forest, near Covington VA.  I found some out of the way spot, in a pull-off off of an old logging road, where it was flat and dark and quiet.  It rained overnight, but as I was sleeping in the back of the car, it didn’t much matter.

In the morning, I finally got a look at my ‘inspiring’ campsite.  Oh well, it did the trick.

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I took a slightly meandering route through the National Forest back to the highway, which was a bit more scenic.Image

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Now this is a sight that I haven’t seen yet this year.  I mean, ever since early July, I’ve seen a red or yellow leaf here and there, on a tree or on the ground.  But this is the first time I’ve seen an entire tree (or part of a tree I guess) lit up with autumn colors.  I guess fall comes early to this part of the mountains!Image

As I was leaving the National Forest, I came across this sublime view of early morning sun, and distant clouds and rain.  I had to stop for a bit to appreciate it.Image

The landscape in this part of Virginia reminded me a bit of northern California, with green fields in the valleys, and thickly forested hills with mist rising off of them.  A really beautiful morning!Image

Kind of randomly, I came across the “Humpback Bridge wayside,” a little park with a covered bridge (in Virginia?!), a clear mountain stream, and this awesome ‘LOVE’ sculpture.Image

Standing in the creek– off to the right, it actually gets kind of deep, but it was still early in the morning, quite cool, and I didn’t want to be wet for the rest of the day, so I satisfied myself with a ‘splash bath,’ rather than a full dip.

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Just before passing into West VA, I came across a sign for the Allagheny Trail, a 300 mile western alternative to the AT through Virginia and West Virginia.  I’d heard of this trail, but never seen it; it has always been appealing to me (in my opinion, the AT is situated too far to the east), so I couldn’t resist the opportunity to walk a little ways up it.  As I was approaching the trailhead, I came across a family of wild turkey, which ran into the woods as I got near.

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pretty jewelweed flowers right at the trailhead sign.  These plants are so common that it’s easy to overlook just how gorgeous their flowers are.Image

This spectacular purple and white wildflower was growing just s few steps down the trail, many flowers growing on each spike.Image

I only managed to get a few hundred yards down the trail, with rumbling thunder and intermittent light rain keeping me close to the car.  The woods in this area are, unsurprisingly, full of a wide variety of mushrooms, some familiar and other species that I don’t see in Louisa County.  Like this cracked-cap bolete, which I’ve read about, but this was the first one I’ve ever seen myself.  It’s not a choice edible, but it sure is a pretty mushroom.

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here’s another one

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These tiny purple mushrooms were spread all across the forest floor like little amethysts scattered on the ground.Image

Eventually, I made my way into West Virginia, eschewing the monotony of I-64 in favor of local roads.  A little ways down, I stretched my legs at a little roadside park, which had the most spectacularly moss-covered picnic shelters I’ve ever seen

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The grassy lawn was covered with red leaves recently fallen from the tree.  How can this be happening in August?!?

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My next stop was the New River Gorge, where I somehow managed to entirely miss the visitor center, and instead found myself driving on this narrow one-way road all the way down down down into the gorge.  It was quite a pretty road, and a relief to know that I wouldn’t be running into any traffic driving back up the other way!Image

The road bottomed out at a one-lane bridge with a wooden surface that crossed close to the level of the river.  It was a good vantage point to look up at the modern highway bridge passing nearly 800 feet overhead.

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From there, it was a short distance to the public river access, with a boat launch and a gravel ‘beach.’  By this point, it was a little bit after noon, and a perfect time and place for a midday swim!

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I saw this old guy fishing from the rocks, and assumed that there was a path to where he was.  Then, as I watched, I realized that the only way to get out there was to climb on the rocks.  West Virginia geezers are hardcore!

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A short distance further, I pulled over at a trailhead forto get out of the car and do a spot of hiking.  The first bit of the trail took me through this awesome rhododendron jungleImage

and crossed over the creek just below this little waterfall, framed with enormous moss-covered boulders.Image

The next section of trail followed an old railroad grade up to an abandoned coal mine.  This clear, cold waterfall plunging into a concrete trough was a scenic high point of the trail (and another opportunity to cool off)

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The day had become pretty hot and humid by this point, and the dense green vegetation felt tropical to me.  The occasional views across the gorge of thick green forest helped maintain the feeling of hiking through the jungle…

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…as did coming across this leaf dropped across the trail, one of the largest leaves I’ve ever seen!  Photographed with my foot to show just how big it was.Image

The trail passed several old ventilation shafts leading into the abandoned coal mine.  They were all blocked off with thick metal grating to stop people from exploring inside.  This one had a crystal-clear stream flowing from the innards of the mountain.  It was hard to get a good picture, this was the best I could do.Image

Standing at the mouth of the mine shafts, you could feel the tunnels ‘breathing’ cool damp air, at least 20 degrees cooler than in the sun.  This shaft, amazingly, had ghostly wisps of water vapor gently floating from its mouth, an ideal place to stop for lunch.

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afterwards, I continued up the trail, steeply up to what I thought would be more abandoned ‘ruins,’ but was actually a trailhead at the edge of a modern, very much occupied, town.  Along the edge of the road, an overhanging apple tree had dropped dozens of apples, some of which were actually quite sweet and tasty.Image

Rather than retrace my steps, I was able to figure out a way to continue on and loop back to the car, although it meant several more miles of hiking.  Going forward, the trail wound through woods whose fungal abundance made up for its lack of views.  Once again, I was surrounded by an unbelievable bounty of mushrooms, both familiar and unfamiliar.  The oddest thing I saw along the trail was this weird orange mass– I’m not even sure if it’s animal, vegetable, or fungal in origin– I don’t know what the hell it was, and I certainly didn’t want to touch it!Image

Just a photo showing off some of the amazing colors of mushrooms in the woods these days.  To the right, an inedible “Peck’s milky,”  and to the right, some sort of bright yellow bolete.Image

don’t know what these are, probably something horribly toxic, but I just thought they were quite pretty.Image

The entire loop was probably six or seven miles, and by the time I got back to the car, I was all muddy and sweaty.  Fortunately, I was parked right next to a stream with this delightful swimming hole, perfect for one last dip before getting back into the car and actually trying to cover some mileage.

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The remainder of today’s drive started out pleasant enough, driving mile after mile along the northeastern bank of the New River.Image

Further along, I passed these enormous mountains of coal, ready to be loaded onto trains.  I haven’t seen any signs of coal mining on this trip– flattened mountains, strip mines or the like.  Although I know all that environmental devastation is out there, I managed on this trip to pass all the way through West Virginia without seeing much besides farms, forests, cute little towns, and general loveliness.

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Soon afterwards, I was back on the placeless highway, spinning my wheels while the world turned beneath me.  And now I’m in a McDonalds parking lot in eastern Kentucky, grateful that they let you use their wifi without actually having to eat their disgusting food.  Tonight, I’ll find a place to stealth camp in the Daniel Boone national forest, and then I’ll be on my way once more.

August 20 -21 – canoodling!

On Tuesday afternoon, as I wrote in the previous post, it took most of the day to get free of the FDA, finish packing the car, and get to the river.  We had to re-plan the trip, since instead of a full two days, we had more like a few hours in the afternoon and another full day.  So we decided to canoe the Rivanna river instead, which is closer and meant we would be on the river a full hour sooner than the Rappahannock.  It was about 5 by the time we finally were at the boat launch with the canoes fully packed, ready for some paddling.  Despite the delays, spirits were definitely high as we hit the river.Image

Setting off down the Rivanna, looking downstream…Image

…and back upstream to the boat launch. Image

The Rivanna river flows along the edge of Charlottesville, underneath a couple of major highways, and close to shopping malls and neighborhoods.  However, from the river, you can’t see many buildings or roads, just a couple of bridges, and a few places where you can see houses through the trees.  We did see lots of water birds that first day, including several great blue herons, one of which I managed to get a decent photo of.Image

Before long, the river passed underneath the Highway 64 bridge, covered with booming semi trucks and stop and to traffic (oh how thankful I was to be on the river in a canoe and not in a car on the highway!) and we were out of the city.   Along the way, I was able to spot a few mushrooms growing on the waterlogged trunks strewn along the bank; the oysters below were the best of the lot, and they made a tasty addition to dinner that night.Image

I’ve done a fair amount of canoeing in my time, although the vast majority of it has either been in Maine, on lakes and ponds, or in Florida, on swampy flatwater rivers.  I hadn’t done a lot of paddling on rivers that actually had rocks and rapids, and during that first day, I had to do some fast learning.  The rapids on the Rivanna aren’t anything too terrible, mostly class I and II, with one drop that was rated class III (although my more experienced friend in the other canoe was skeptical of that rating).  Whatever the rating, there were definitely some thrilling moments, as I tried–sometimes successfully– to navigate our canoe between and over the rocks and through the frothy bits.  The rapids in the picture below weren’t the most impressive ones we encountered, just the ones I managed to take a picture of (mostly, I was far too focused on not sinking the canoe to take pictures). Image

And as the afternoon wore on into late afternoon, we started looking for a decent sandbar or bank to pull up on and camp, only we weren’t finding anything but steep, muddy banks, covered with thick vegetation.  As the sun started to set, we began looking for anything that would serve as a camp, even an uncomfortable gravelly one.  Fortunately, just as I was starting to worry that we would have to spend a wet night in the canoes, we came across a perfect campsite, a bar of soft dry sand with plenty of driftwood for a fire.  It was clear that we weren’t the first people to have camped there, and we were very thankful to find it.  Fortunately, there was a full moon, so we had no problem making camp and cooking dinner at night.

The next morning, after a sandy night of drifting in and out of sleep, I got up soon after dawn to the sight of mist rising off of the river, and the delightful knowledge that we had a full day of paddling ahead of us.  Image

With a bit more light, I took a few photos of our fortuitous campsite.Image

The tent wasn’t entirely necessary, as it didn’t rain, but it kept the bugs out while we slept.Image

The sandbar provided plenty of space for sleeping and morning meditation.  I’m not sure what the ground cover plant was– it looked like cucumber plants, and had scratchy stems that would catch at your skin or clothes, but wasn’t actually thorny.Image

This is my preferred morning meditation– delicious sausages roasting over an open fire, could any breakfast be better?!?Image

And then we were back on the river.  Most of the time, both banks were forested, with occasional fields and even more occasional houses, ridiculous mansions spread out over acres of lawn.  For most of the way, the banks were pretty low on both sides, but occasionally (as in the photo below) one side or the other would rise in wooded hillsides.Image

Along those sections, the banks of the river were often steep, with rocky, ivy-covered bluffs.Image

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I think this is the most massive chunk of white quartz I’ve ever seen.Image

The day passed as through in a dream, lovely and warm.  During the middle of the day, it was hot enough to enjoy frequent dips in the river, but never so hot that paddling was uncomfortable.  Puffy clouds alternated sun and shade, and a gentle breeze stirred the air, making for near-perfect canoeing conditions.  By the middle of the day we had all achieved a state of complete relaxation and contentment.Image

We saw plenty of critters, mostly birds.  There were a surprising lot of raptors along the river, hawks, eagles, and what I believe to be osprey.  Several times we saw the flash of white feathers that made me think we were seeing bald eagles.  Then we came across this individual in a treetop, its unmistakable profile confirming that we were indeed seeing bald eagles.  It was hard to tell when we were seeing different individuals, or the same one flying up and down the river, but it seemed like we were seeing lots of different hawks and eagles; for much of the trip we were coming across one or more of them at nearly every bend of the river.   Image

On several occasions, we saw birds diving from the trees to catch fish, and came upon one successful hunter with a large fish in its talons.  As we drifted closer, I tried to take a photo, only the zoom on my camera could only do so much.  This bird looked like an osprey to me, it definitely wasn’t a bald eagle (wrong profile, too small), and it was quite pleased with itself.Image

Here’s another picture, which I took from almost directly underneath the bird.Image

Other animal encounters on the river included many many dozen turtles, sunning themselves on logs.  Some of them were quite big, and we also saw a number of cute baby turtles, no bigger than a silver dollar, sometimes perched on the backs of the bigger ones.Image

And a family of geese, which for the better part of the day stayed just downstream from us.  They would float on the river until we had almost caught up, then loudly fly away for a half mile or so, then start floating again until we were nearby.   They repeated this for most of the day, then just before our pull-out point, they gave up on the game and calmly let us pass them.Image

The pull-out point at Palmyra came all too soon, and I was sad to see the boat ramp.  In total, it was about 25 miles on the river, from Darden Towe park to Palmyra.  There’s already talk about doing a day trip this fall on the remaining 17 miles of the Rivanna to where it empties into the James river.  Hopefully, I’ll be part of that trip.  I’m pretty convinced that observations of Virginia nature and wildlife, when done from a canoe floating gently down the river, are the most pleasant observations of all!Image

July 28-30 – stayin’ cool and headin’ south

Back at home now, after my week long trip up to the big city and back.  Before going up to NY, I wasn’t quite sure if I there would be much in the way of nature observing opportunities.  It’s true that “nature” is everywhere, even in the city there are birds, bugs, atmospheric conditions.  But New York is certainly a place where the built, human, environment so overwhelms the natural one that it’s hard, outside of the changes in weather, to get a sense of “nature.”  In the winter it’s cold and bleak, in the summer it’s hot; the parks are green and the trees have leaves.  But, even in the parks, any greenery you see is tended and landscaped, only in the vacant lots and wastelands is “nature” (mostly in the form of non-native weeds) allowed to do its thing.  I did have some nice outdoor experiences while up there, primarily a Saturday trip to Governor’s Island, an awesome new park in the middle of New York Harbor, at the confluence of the Hudson and East rivers.  Beautiful views of the city, and a spectacular pleasant summer day.

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I was excited about our trip home, as we had been planning on taking our time, meandering through the mountains a bit, and camping along the way.  It didn’t take long to feel like I was back in a more natural environment.  In Clinton, NJ, just about an hour out of the city, we stopped for lunch, and discovered a lovely picnic area just behind the parking lot of a deli.  There was a surprisingly clean-looking creek flowing nearby, with a sign saying that it had been stocked with trout.  What a difference a few miles makes!

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Another hour’s drive into Pennsylvania, and we decided to call it a day at Blue Rocks Family Campground.  The primary natural feature of this location is the blue rocks boulder field, a mile-long stretch of rocks and rubble, upon which the boys and I had an excellent time climbing and exploring.

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Later, I was able to get some kid-free time and set off hiking for a couple of hours.  The campground was just a mile off of the Appalachian Trail (one of the reasons we chose it), and there was a spur trail that left the camp heading uphill.  The region had received some rain recently (indeed, it was storming just an hour before we pulled into the campground), so the ground was pretty wet and squishy, with numerous streams crossing over.  I was so glad to be free of the city that I walked barefoot, although I was aware of Pennsylvania’s AT reputation as an endless rockfield.  Muddy bits like this on the trail made me glad of my decision.Image

It only took a short while to climb up to the white-blazed Appalachian trail.  By the looks of the wide, heavily traveled treadway, this section gets plenty of use.

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On my way up, I saw the same unusual sight that I’ve seen in Virginia– there were lots of chanterelles growing in the compacted soil right in the middle of the trail, and not so many growing in the soft forest litter to the side.  Many of them had been trampled by unconscious hikers, and the ones that hadn’t been stepped on were all muddy and unappealing.

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Stone staircase near the top of the ridge.  This section of trail was in fact pretty rocky, but nothing my farm-toughened feet couldn’t handle!

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The hike to the Pulpit Rock lookout was about one and a half miles, and the view, while not spectacular by AT standards, was enjoyable enough.  The blue rocks boulder field is prominent on the right side of this photo.  Although I didn’t see anyone on the way up, there were a handful of folks at the lookout, some of whom had brought up several glass bottles of hard cider, which they generously passed around.Image

As I was exploring the immediate area around the lookout, I came across this copperhead curled up in a little crack in the rocks.  I’m so glad I saw it before stepping on it, for otherwise you would be reading a very different post right now!

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Just another random AT photo, taken on the way down.  The grassy plant along the edge of the trail is similar to the one growing along the logging trails at Twin Oaks Community.  It looks almost like some sort of tiny bamboo, and I’m guessing it’s some sort of invasive exotic.

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Not many mushrooms today.  Aside from the muddy chanterelles, I saw some overgrown platterfuls and a couple of withered flushes of oysters, long past edibility.  By far, the choice find of the day was this gorgeous chicken of the woods, which I discovered along the trail just a quarter mile or so from our campsite.

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It tasted as good as it looked– fried up in some butter, then simmered in tomato sauce for a while and served over noodles.  A treat for kids and adults alike!

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After dinner, further explorations in the boulder field with my son Sami.  I think the boys could have spent days just climbing around on the rocks.

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From where we were camped, the sunset was blocked by mountains, but the sky to the east, reflecting the colors of the sunset, was equally dramatic.  One of my favorite things about camping out is the opportunity to be outdoors in the mountains in the late afternoon and early morning, magical times that you always miss when only going out for day trips.  When you’re camping, you can just have your dinner, then sit out on a rock enjoying the slow transition from day to night…

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Day 2

My oh my what a night!  To start with, just before it got dark, we decided to change campsites in order to pitch our tent on a platform right at the edge of the boulder field (our designated campsite was kind of muddy and gravelly).  Although our tent was a little bit bigger than the platform, we figured it wouldn’t be a problem if it hung over a couple inches on each side.  Unfortunately, it was impossible to stake down the tent when it was set like this.  And during the night, when a sudden drenching thunderstorm blew in, the walls of the tent sagged down onto our faces, seriously compromising the “waterproof” nature of the tent.  The rainstorm was followed by a steadily increasing wind, blowing down across the boulder field, which had increased to gale force by dawn.  I couldn’t possibly sleep with a moist tent alternately flapping around all around me and slapping me in the face, so I got up in the pre-dawn light to explore the boulder field and surrounding forests.Image

Somehow, amazingly, the rest of the family was able to sleep in, even with gusts of wind that nearly lifted the tent clean off of the platform!Image

After breaking camp, we took a winding drive through the mountains of central Pennsylvania, making our way by early afternoon to Hancock, Maryland, a spot where just about two miles separates the Potomac River from the Mason/Dixon line.  After a picnic lunch along the river, I rented bikes for an hour and set off with the boys to explore the nearby rail trail.  Although the ground was dry (I don’t think they got any of the past couple days storms), the forests surrounding the old C&O Canal towpath were bright green. Image

In other places, the forest opened up, revealing views of the surrounding hills and mountains, also thickly forested.Image

A couple of miles up the trail, we came to this odd round brick building, which looked like it may have once been the chimney of a larger structure, most of which is now gone.  Image

unsurprisingly, we saw lots of deer in PA and MD.  Along the bike route, we saw several little fawns with their momma, and later on, this one fawn all alone.  So cute!Image

We ended the day camping at a little campground between the canal trail and the Potomac river itself.  Although it wasn’t an especially hot afternoon, it still felt nice to take a dip in the river, far enough upstream from the city so that the water looked and felt clean, and I didn’t have to worry too much about poisoning myself.Image

Here’s a spot where a side stream, flowing into the Potomac, crosses under the railroad line, through a small tunnel that must be at least 100 years old, or older.  I thought the twin reflections of the tunnel entrance and exit were especially interesting.Image

Day 3

The next morning, we made our way to Harper’s Ferry, where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers join forces.  I’m not sure why the joined river bears the name Potomac, as the Shenandoah definitely seems like the more voluminous of the two tributaries, and appears to be the primary upstream route.  But that’s history, I guess.

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The center of this little town, as anyone who’s been there knows, is quite scenic and historic.  I took some photos, mostly of the boys, that don’t seem quite appropriate for this journal, although I do like this view of the Virginia Mountains across the river, through the window of the old stone church.Image

We took a short hike along the AT as it heads out of town, on a trail that was quite dry and dusty, with a surprising lot of broken glass underfoot.  The glass looked kind of old, as though the trail was passing through an old dumping area from years ago.  We looped back along the canal, much of which was bright green with algae, and filled with wading birds and turtles.Image

I especially liked the color contrast between the green of the canal and the blue-gray plumage of this egret.Image

After spending an afternoon at Harper’s Ferry, we loaded back in the car and drove the final few hours back to Twin Oaks.  But that’s a story for a different post.