Notice there may be quite a few photos in this post and well remember you can get a big view of the photo by clicking on it.
Up to the weekend the weather forecast didn't sound too good. Rain starting Friday and continuing over the weekend.
But to my luck it cleared up overnight from Friday and left Saturday full of sun and not a drop of rain in sight (well until evening anyway).
Soo I fired up the truck and headed west (sounds dramatic doesn't it). Anyway I went back to the mountains and Shenandoah national park (http://www.nps.gov/shen).
Usually I head for waterfalls of one kind or the other (got 2 out of 9 so far. Dark hollow falls and White oak). This time due to the time of year and recommendation from the park ranger I was looking for something with higher elevation.
I ended up choosing Stony man mountain where I have seen people standing but never been there. So I got to the parking lot and here is the trail map with info.
It's a walk alright. May not sound like much but it's all uphill and well it's a nature trail so the rolling sidewalks and conveniences like that isn't present.
Going up the trail I was on the Appalachian trail for a bit and got to the highest point where it intersects with another trail 3837ft but that's not high enough so up we go :-)
It seemed like the higher the elevation the more animals were around. Plenty of squirrels and white tale deers which I got some photos of. I did see a falcon zooming through the trees but those ones are fast and hard to get a photo of. So squirrels and white tales it is :-)
Getting to the first stop I found that there was quite a drop off the cliff. This first stop is Little Stony Man Cliffs which has a great view and well I found that I am not all that comfortable around heights and there seemed to be a long way down.
Notice how even in this terrain there is plants growing to the edge in nothing but solid rock (well kind of seems like it).
Now sort of getting over the awe of the height from Little Stony Man Cliffs I ventured on to the next spot. Not thinking that I was only about half way there and there would be some more uphill ahead but going through the woods and it's just ooh so quite (not counting all the animal noise) it's actually pretty cool and best of all relaxing.
Fast forwarding through the woods (got some more from going downhill) I got to Stony Man mountain. Now this is at 4010ft so yeah it was uphill but all worth it. If I had thought Little Stony Man Cliffs was high getting here kind of blew me away...
These truly are the blue mountains and usually there is always a haze in the distance. But then again the distance is quite a bit further away than usually. I am not sure the photos here can give you the full feel for the distance but it feels amazing standing up there looking out.
The next couple of photos are interesting in more than one way. Since Stony Man mountain is that high you have a pretty good look down at skyline drive which in itself is pretty cool. But I didn't realize that these photos are take from the same location and pointing in the same direction as the photo on the cover of the official map until I got home.
Sure the one on the official map has green leaves and all that... but still pretty cool huh?
Here is two zoom levels of Little Stony Man Cliffs seen from Stony Man mountain. This by the way is where I stopped first time and notice there is people standing down there (the location I thought was sooo high at first).
After sitting down drinking about a full bottle of water and just taking it in for a few I started back down the trail (trying to remember where to turn and all that). Turns out I did remember the way to go and well yeah I did take the long trail to get there but that's ok. These are the ones I ran into taking the longer less traveled trail. And btw. the white tails where close to the trail and not as jumpy as they get later in the season.
And no you are right I can't really leave you hanging without the squirrel ;-)
After getting an extra snack trail gating a little by myself I started back down sky line drive and stopped at one overlook to get a view of the "flat-lands".
Even though it isn't summer and it's not too warm yet it's a perfect time to go to the mountains and just take a walk. Shenandoah national park is great since there is a great variety in the length and difficulty of the walks you can take.
Most of them however offers great rewards with regards to views and animals. Later on there will be some great plant life to observe as well. I would guess early May sometime, most likely May 10th would be the weekend to start seeing things starting to bloom or start shooting.
Hope you enjoyed the photos. I know I sure enjoyed getting them :-)