Shenandoah National Park

DSC01894 (2)For July 4, Marc and I originally had plans with friends that fell through. So we decided to go camping in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. (As I am writing this and drinking my morning coffee at our campsite, this camouflaging leaf bug comes crawling on me! It’s exciting to see insects and animals in the zoo in their natural habitat… Even if that is on my leg.) This decision to go camping was pretty last minute for east coast standards- three weeks from the actually holiday weekend- and there were no campsites available for reservation. We figured we’d take our chances with first come first serve.

July 4 is on a Monday this year and of course most people leave for the holiday on Thursday or Friday. Marc and I ended up being too hungover Friday to head out and left early Saturday morning. We didn’t get to Shenandoah until 4pm and by then, all the campsites and lodges were full. Go figure.  The park ranger suggested we check out campsites nearby. Luckily we found The Country Place.

It wasn’t the most ideal camp space but it was something. We called before we got there and the owner did give us the heads up that all the best spots were taken. We were pretty desperate so it worked out. Great amenities- it had a fully equipped kitchen! The only downside to the camp was really just the crazy spiders we encountered.

Before all this though, the first thing we did when we arrived was explore Shenandoah. Good thing we did because the weather was perfect on our first day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. You could see the endless Blue Ridge mountain range Shenandoah is known for. It was spectacular! The next two days were cloudy, rainy, foggy, and humid- also what the park is known for. It was kind of cool seeing the park’s various climates. (Although scary to drive through.)

On day 2, Marc and I did the 8.2 mile Cedar Run/Whiteoak circuit hike starting from mile 45.6 (described as: very strenuous 8.2-mile circuit hike. From Hawksbill Gap, take Cedar Run-Link-Whiteoak-Whiteoak Fire Road-Horse Trail. Multiple waterfalls and cascades. Be sure to bring water.) We picked up a map from the park services center who recommended this hike to see the park’s  waterfalls. This worked out well since the skies were really foggy and cloudy this day. It was certainly a strenuous hike! This was partially due to the humidity and partially due to the fact that our GPS watch lost service and thought we were two miles head of where we actually were. It was pretty misleading but we kept going. It’s a good hike though! I got to take a bunch of cool waterfall photos! And the falls were the best I’ve seen on the east coast.

On day 3, Marc got a speeding ticket (we assume it’s because of our Out of state license) on our way to the park. This day was foggier than the prior. We drove north to head back home and we got lucky enough to see a few great views. The 50+ miles was mostly foggy though. Sadly, we never saw a bear!

I don’t know how I really feel about this weekend. The hike and day 1 views were amazing  but the speeding ticket, the creepy critters on our campgrounds, the lack of planning, and the fog/rain/clouds were really kind of a bummer. Nonetheless, I’m glad we got to see the park.

Now I just need to find my National Park Pass…I hope I didn’t lose this $80 “passport”…

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