Shenandoah National Park

7:23 p.m. on May 23, 2013 (EDT)
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After having my first kiddo and entering into the grad school application rat race, my wife finally kicked me out of the house for a few days.  So I went for a hike.  I couldn't afford more than a few days out, but I got to see some cool stuff, get soaked to the onions, and spend some nights out under the stars.

First day was entirely devoted to travel.  It's 12 hours from Grand Rapids, MI to Harrisonburg, VA.  Cool little town, home of James Madison University.  It reminds me a lot of Ann Arbor with a more Colonial feel to it.


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Next AM I was up before the sun.  After a quick breakfast at the Waffle House, I headed down 33 West into the park via the Swift Run Gap entrance station.


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It became pretty obvious to me over the next few days that the park gave "preferential treatment" to Skyline Drive and sort of fit the trails in around that.  No matter, there was still plenty of beauty to behold.  Leaving my car at Blackrock Gap and heading south on the AT:


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Rhododendrons not quite ready yet:


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Fantastic afternoon for a walk:
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Pretty, whatever the heck they are:
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Ditto:
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I reached the Riprap trail and headed south along the AT for another hour before retracing my steps and taking the Riprap trail.  Here is the overlook.  I think that is Grottoes, VA below but I am not sure:


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Cool burl:
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Further along the Riprap trail:
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7:36 p.m. on May 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Lovely!

Flowers. Sigh. Looking forward to seeing them again. Are the pink ones azaleas? The purple ones are irises. (We're having a cold spring, won't see flowers for a couple of weeks at least, I bet.)

Congratulations on your sprog, and best wishes on the grad school applications!

7:45 p.m. on May 23, 2013 (EDT)
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More along Riprap:

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Shortly after this, I heard a thunderclap in the distance.  I took my pack off to put my pack cover on.  I figured I would wait to throw on my rain gear until I felt a few drops.  I didn't even have time to shoulder my pack again before I started getting some drops on me.  By the time I had my rain stuff on and hiked 50 yards, I was in a pretty serious rain.  Another 5 minutes after that, and I was in a downpour and getting peppered with small hail.  Obviously, the camera was tucked away for this portion of the hike.  Unfortunate, since the Riprap trail is a really nice stretch.  Drying out:


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The creek near my campsite:
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The next morning I put all my wet stuff back on and started hiking up the Wildcat Ridge trail back to the AT where I headed north:
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Another beautiful morning:
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Another cool plant that I am unfamiliar with.  My botany skills are sorely lacking:
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As above:
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Leaving the AT for a lunch break at the Blackrock Gap AT shelter:
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Back in the saddle, heading up to the Blackrock summit:
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Talus slope @ Blackrock summit:
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The views were fantastic:

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Obligatory pack shot, duh:
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I sat on this talus slope for about an hour:
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I hiked to Brown's Gap before turning around and setting up camp for night 2, not far from the Blackrock AT shelter:
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A fire and some wine.  That's how to close out a day of hiking:
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Gotta do a self photo here.  I guess this is the hiker's equivalent of the frat bro's shirtless-guzzling-a-natty-ice-facebook shot:
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Crossing Skyline Drive again on the AT while heading back to the car:
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Short but sweet.  I will likely return again to the Central / Northern districts of the park as I hear they are even more scenic.  Thanks for looking!

9:04 p.m. on May 23, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip  report..Also a great time to be in the park...

10:17 a.m. on May 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Great report and pics, thanks for sharing the trip.

11:57 a.m. on May 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Lovely hike, Ghost! Spring in the Apps really is fantastic. The pink flowering shrubs in your photos are a native Azalea,  and the purple ones are Dwarf Bearded Iris. 

How do you like your little solo Eureka? 

3:28 p.m. on May 24, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes very cool trip!

 

Gonz,

 

That is interesting; I have never run into a pink azalea in the upper elevations around here. In Florida they were very common to see in a deep bright pink.  The orange flame azaleas seem much more common in TN.

7:43 a.m. on May 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Hey, thanks for the info on the flowers guys!  Gonzan, I am a huge fan of my Eureka.  It's under 3 lbs.  It can be had for $110 brand new online.  I got mine secondhand for $60 from someone off whiteblaze.  I am 6'0" even, however, and the only limitation I see is with someone who is taller than me when it gets colder out.  If you sleep on an air mattress (elevated a little) your feet will run into the sloping roof of the tent and compress the toe box of your bag, which can lead to cooler feet at night.

10:12 a.m. on May 25, 2013 (EDT)
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Awesome TR ghost. I love the selfie photo comment. Hahaha.

9:52 a.m. on May 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Really nice photos.

3:05 p.m. on May 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice TR. I think the leaves-only shot is a type of wild yam (Dioscorea spp.). I really like those side-entry Eureka tents.

4:55 p.m. on May 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Enjoyed your trail report.  Ditto on what Patman said.  Usually see the flame azaleas.  I do not believe I have seen pink before. 

August 28, 2014
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