Monday, October 12, 2015

Goodbye Shenandoah

It is funny – every morning we start out on our daily hike and I get out there and look around me and the air is fresh, the scenery is incredible, I feel invincible. Who would believe, ol' sedentary me - loving this outdoor life. Of course after I've been hiking for about three or four hours, I'm thinking – what the hell – you've seen one tree, you've seen them all – enough of this outdoor experience. But then the next morning I am ready to get out there again and start all over.
Today's View

Today I drive about ten miles north from the campground to South River Falls. My plan is just to do the short loop – see the top of the falls and then head back. Again – a lovely day. The hike goes downhill and then wanders along a creek that feeds the falls. I get to the observation post and you hardly see the falls because of the trees. So, I decide to go another couple of miles down to get to the base of the falls. Down, down, down I go and I get to what I think is the base which is just sort of a small cascade into a pool. What a disappointment. Then I see that there is a little path off on the side, a rocky steep little trail. Miko really has to scramble over the rocks to get down the trail. And then we saw the base of the falls. Best falls of the park so far. I almost wish it could have been a hot August day so we could have played in the water.


Top of the Falls

The Bottom of the Falls

Sat down next to a ranger and ate some lunch, just watching the water cascading. There was a boy scout troop at the base of the falls and they were scrambling around on the rocks, probably falling into the water more than they were staying dry.

Because I felt so good, I decided to take the long way back. Probably should have remembered how I felt about long hikes. As I'm slowly making my way up, up, up the trail, the ranger passes me by. She is probably thirty years younger than me and a hiker. I start talking to her which means I have to step up my game and keep up with her. After a while, she took pity on me and stopped to rest. I am dripping sweat – no glowing – whoa – it was intense. I'm so glad that she was there – I really got pushed to my edge.

But enough of this hiking. I think it is finally time to come down off of the mountain. I had four wonderful hikes in the Central part of Shenandoah, when I come back I will do the southern and northern parts. That is the joy of this lifestyle, I can always come back.

Coming down the mountain is a little hairy. The first three miles is at an 8-9% grade, followed by another three miles of a 6% grade – we are talking a long steep drop. My mentors have told me, take it slow, do not sit on the brakes. Put the RV in a lower gear, let the engine help hold you back. If you need to use the brakes, stab them – get down to a low speed and then get off of the brakes so they don't burn up. It is a single lane road, cars are piling up behind me, but I'm taking it slow. The road goes on and on and I'm being really concious of what I'm supposed to do. Then I smell something - not exactly a burning smell, but sort of an acrid type smell. What is this? Luckily, there was the one and only (besides the runaway truck ramp) place to pull over. I pull over and try to figure out what happened. Not a clue – I know I wasn't hanging on the brakes at all – maybe something wrong with the transmission. When the smell lessons, I continue on. I made it to the bottom of the hill, but that smell stayed with me for a couple of hours. I still don't know what it was.

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