Doyle’s River Falls Hike

My husband and I went hiking yesterday. I think this is the activity for this area – there are so many trails.  With the Shenandoah National Park, Appalachian Trail and Skyline Drive just minutes away, we can get to vistas and views any weekend.

We opted for a 3 mile round trip hike to the bottom of Doyle’s River waterfalls. Beautiful! There was a spring along the way, lovely flowers, a deer munching greens just off the trail. The light dappled between the leaves to the forest floor. After a bit, we were walking along the stream, and the sounds of the water over the rocks was almost dainty and musical. Except for boisterous groups of hikers running down the trail (we let them pass us), the woods had only woods-sounds.  The temperature was perfect, and there was a slight breeze. Ideal.

I should have known I’d be in trouble when on the way down, my legs began to shake as I had to step over big rocks. But I reasoned that walking down a steep hill wasn’t something my legs were used to, so of course I was working unfamiliar muscles. I didn’t really consider how incredibly steep this path was. I didn’t think about how out of practice I was – how many years it has been since I hiked a steep one like this.

We stood at the bottom of the Upper and Lower Falls and watched those who’d gone ahead of us scramble all over the wet rocks. They were barefoot and sure-footed, and squealing with delight at the cold water. There were hikers with wet dogs at the bottom – one dog got to the edge of the pool and just plopped down.  Another watched faithfully as his owner ate beef jerky, hoping for a morsel. My husband climbed down and dipped his hat in the clear water – a sure way to cool off from the descent.

The hike was 3 miles round-trip, but I think that is an absolute value, because I’m sure it was 1 mile in and 4 miles out. At least, that’s what it seemed like on the climb back up. Towards the middle of the hike, and the rest of the way up, I could take about 20 steps at a time and then had to rest.  I knew I was out of shape, but really….!

Round is a shape.

My problem wasn’t my legs, but my heart rate – I couldn’t keep it down.  So as I would hike up the hill, I would get about 15 feet and then have to stop to breathe deeply and get the oxygen to my head and muscles. A couple of times when we stopped, I actually “grayed around the edges” as I got dizzy. I prayed that God would help me not pass out!

I got discouraged a couple of times, and assumed that it must have been taking us several hours to hike up, but it was probably more like an hour. I don’t feel too badly about that! In fact, I’m only mildly embarrassed at the many stops I had to make. I’m proud of myself for doing it (what choice did I have?) and for taking my time so that I did it safely. And I’m grateful to my husband who supported me when I felt fuzzy, stopped me from going too fast, and shared all the water with me. He encouraged me every step – I mean every step in a few sections – of the climb back up.

Lessons learned:

  • If I want to live around here and enjoy the sights, I need to be able to get off-road and on-trail. Which means I need to be in better physical – aerobic – condition.
  • It’s great fun to share adventures with my husband. And he will always encourage me.
  • God climbed with me, and gave me the strength when I didn’t have any. It’s amazing the reserves He’ll pull from. (I think there’s a larger lesson there.)
  • Take more water. And snacks. (Man, that trail mix at the top of the climb tasted good!)
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Big Meadows

My husband and I hiked in Shenandoah National Park yesterday – in a place called Big Meadows. A deer popped up from the grasses when we startled it with our noisy steps. We walked across the huge field to some trees, and traipsed around along the edge of the woods for a little bit. An earlier rain storm had wet the soil in the meadow, and it was muddy in some places as we hiked back, but my boots kept my feet dry.

IMG_2670It was beautiful!

When we finished our walk, we drove along Skyline Drive, and enjoyed amazing views at different pullouts, and stepped onto the Appalachian Trail.  The Park is stunning, and there are lots of places to pause and soak in God’s creation.

We bought an annual pass – I think we’ll be using it regularly!

Playing with sunlight

Today’s Photo101 assignment has to do with warmth and light, particularly natural light. So I browsed through my photo albums and picked these.

I like the way the sun lights only the tops of the trees in one photo, but splashes onto the path in the other photo from that same hike.

 

The Path to Solitude

Across gravel drive, across gravel road,
Up second drive to
Grass freshly mowed.

Blue sky above, green hill to climb,
White puffy clouds,
The hike is sublime.

Top of the hill, fields on both sides –
Ragweed and wildflowers
And tall grasses to hide.

Trees to the right, dark up ahead.
Temperature drops;
No hat on my head.

Shade of the rock steals the heat of the sun.
Keep walking on,
See and hear no one.

The path just got muddy; think I’ll turn around.
Walk back to the grass and
Sit on the ground.

An effort at mindfulness, be quiet, be still.
Be here in this moment
As I sit on this hill.

Focus, breathe, count to four, start again.
But what is that noise?
Close your eyes, now open.

Sit still and listen, it’s close to me.
Look around slowly, it’s the
Sound of this tree!

The wind blows and bark flaps, that’s what I hear.
The aspen is peeling on
This tree that is near.

Notice the ant army as they march down their hole.
Does the leader shout orders so they know
Where to go?

A feeling of peace as I rest in the sun.
A short nap; I awake.
This walk has been fun.

Writing201 Poetry: map (topic), ode (poetic firm), metaphor (literary device)