Shenandoah National Park, VA: 12/3 – 12/5/19

We ended up leaving New Jersey two days later than planned due to the first snowstorm of the season.

We travelled from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Maryland to West Virginia and finally into Virginia (routes 80W to 95S to 78W to 81S to 211S).

Did you know that the tourism and travel slogan “Virginia Is For Lovers” was just an ad campaign from 1969 that stuck?

We set up camp on Site RV-2 at Outlanders River Camp, located on The Shenandoah River in the town of Luray.

There was only one other RV, without a car, in the campground and no evidence of people in it. The main office was closed, but they had left us information with our site number. It was a cool, windy night, but we did have a full hook up and a wide open view of the mountains.

The next morning we drove about 20 minutes to Shenandoah National Park. Its’ scenic roadway, Skyline Drive, follows the crest of the Blue Ridge mountains for 105 miles. At its’ southern end, it joins the Blue Ridge Parkway, which stretches 469 miles to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Our original plan was to take about four days, driving from the northern part of Skyline Drive all the way to the southern tip of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unfortunately, the loss of two days departing from New Jersey, coupled with the lack of campgrounds open at this time of year, made it impossible for us to do so.

We entered Shenandoah National Park at the Thornton Gap Entrance Station.

First, we hiked about to the summit of Mary’s Rock Trail from Meadow Spring.

This winding trail climbs up through the forest to a rock ledge. Spectacular view to the west, as far as the Allegheny Mountains.

After reaching Mary’s Rock summit, we followed the AT for awhile. We walked past a through hiker with a simple hello. He looked tired and we thought it was extremely late in the season to see a through hiker heading north. When we got back from our 6.2 mile hike, we saw the same hiker in the parking lot. Mike, a retired Veteran from Kentucky, was an Appalachian Trail “flip-flop” hiker. He was down to his last 81 miles to complete his seven month trek. A flip flop hiker completes the entire 2,170-mile AT trail from one end (Mt. Katahdan in Maine) to the other end (Georgia’s Springer Mountain) but not in succession. Sometimes, weather conditions will prevent a hiker from moving forward. Rather than quit, there is the option of rerouting. Mike’s last stretch was from where we saw him in Luray, Virginia to Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. He needed a ride into town to regroup before his last week on the trail. We were his “trail angels” and gave him a ride into town. He did agree, however, to take a short drive north on Skyline drive. We stopped to take in the views. The boys stayed in the car.

While getting ready to head out the next morning, Scott stumbled upon a black-widow spider. He told me that you can tell that it is a black widow by the red mark of its body. I did not know that little fact, and I also thought that they were much larger in size. You tell me.

We are off to Tennessee

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