Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Last Post from Shenandoah

Sunday June 17-Friday June 22, 2018                                           Most Recent Posts:
Lewis Mountain Campground                                                           A Couple of Bear Days
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia                                                Celia Puts Her Hiking Boots On



This post is picture heavy as I try to catch up to the present by covering my last 6 days in Shenandoah


Sunday morning, Kathy packs up her tent and belongings to head back out on the AT headed south.


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I walk her up to the AT and send her on her way.  It was great getting to know her.  It’s easy to chat with through hikers in Shenandoah National park in June.

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When Kathy leaves I get packed up and head back to the Millprong Trail Head for another attempt to hike to Rapidan Camp.  Like most hikes, I have tons of pictures from this one but am going to skim if I can.  I’ve hiked this trail and the other that leads to Rapidan many times.
If you want to see or learn more, you can pull up
one of the previous blogs I did on this hike

Like every trail in Shenandoah this one  was DOWN with plenty of stream crossings.



The horse trail from Skyland to Big Meadows crosses the trail and they are allowed to ride on it to the hitching post just outside the camp.   I met them on their way.


The camp is positioned at the junction of Mill Prong and Laural Prong streams which there form the headwaters of the Rapidan River.  So much of the way one or the other of them is singing and cascading along side the trail.  If you do the loop hike as I had originally intended, you can go down one and back up the other.  And the streams are not the only music I hear on the trail.  This video is of a very ordinary spot but take a LISTEN at what I hear.


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IMG_5221After a lovely hike of  3.7 miles, I arrive at the complex.  If you are the volunteer who does tours, you can live in one of the three remaining of the thirteen original buildings.  That’s it on the left.  Pretty sweet.  When the area closes you are the only one there.  But then, you have no electricity, no cell or internet.

President Hoover wanted to get out of the heat of Washington and have a “summer white house”.  This spot was pitched pretty heavily by Virginia as they wanted to win the race for 2nd National park east of the Mississippi.  Hoover loved to fish for trout so the house was located where as he requested, he could hear the sounds of water from every open window. .Lou Henry Hoover designed and furnished all the buildings and  no tree was to be cut without her authorization.

It’s a very modest house fitting quietly into its surroundings.

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They named it The Brown House.

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The above picture shows the large front deck and the three steps up to the back deck which runs the entire length of the house  and overlooks the water.

This back entrance is now used for admitting the public for tours.  The tours are given by the resident volunteer or by a knowledgable ranger who brings a van full of people who have signed up for the trip.  This trip is 2 or 3 times a week in summer.  Not sure of times for the rest of the year.

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I had tried to time my arrival for the Sunday afternoon tour but just missed it.  They were coming out as I got to the door but the newly hired volunteer offered to take me through.  I have been here many times so her job was pretty easy.  The only room they allow you to photogrpah is what was the screened porch overlooking the back deck but was turned into her office by Mrs. Hoover.  It is the room the back door opens in to.


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Before I came inside, I noticed a visitor by the steps on which people sometimes sit.  He’s not poisonous and wasn’t bothering anyone but when I came out from my short tour, he was gone. 

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Back outside I leave the deck and head down to the bridge over Mill Prong.

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The trail beyond the bridge leads out to the only road to the camp which brough the officials and statesmen who visited Hoover here. I walk out there and coming back over the bridge I see the back steps leading to the end of the cabin where there is a door to the President’s bed room so that when he had emergency telegrams or meetings, they could awaken him without waking his wife.   Really thoughtful.  He had a section of the wrap around deck enclosed and a separate bathroom put in part of the room so he would not disturb her.


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Below shows their original bedroom and the one he had added on to the back.


There is one other original building still standing and it has an excellent display of information and photographs of life at Brown House during the summer.  It was a working summer white house and there were many buildings housing staff and visiting dignitaries.  There is more information on all of this in my previous blogs.  The link to one is above in the text.

I have to say that I wasn’t much of a Hoover fan until I read more about him and came to feel that he’d gotten a rather bad wrap being blamed for the depression. I can see that he was a true public servent and  I certainly admire his summer white house in comparison with those who came after him from Roosevelt to Trump.

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I retraced my steps on the way back climbing up beside the wonderful stream.  On my way, I was watched.  Love the little velvet antlers.

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Apparently I was  listened to as well.  Ears are definitely up and scooping the sounds.

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On Monday my friend Laurie comes up to visit me.  We haven’t seen each other in a long time so it is wonderful catching up.

In the afternoon we take a stroll on the AT headed north.


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Laurie spies some American Chestnut trying hard to make a comback after being descimated in these forests at the turn of the century by an oriental blight.  One of the bad things of free trade.  The trees are still coming back 100 years later but the blight gets them before they gain more than 5 or 6 feet in height.  So sad.  It’s distinctive leaves look so healthy here.



Apparently butterflies like Cow Parsnip. 

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Just checking to see if Mountain Laurel has a fragrence.  The verdict is yes.

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We decide we’ll go out to dinner at Big Meadows.  We check out the Wayside where Kathy chose to eat on Saturday.  We love the backpacks decorating the outside wall but decide to go on up to the lodge for our dinner.

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They can’t all be AT through hikers can they?

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At the lodge, Laurie takes my picture with the one black bear I’m willing to get this close to.  He wlecomes you to the lodge. 

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I totally forget to get a picture of our dinners and at this point don’t even remember what we had to eat but I do remember the delicious triple chocolate cake Laurie ordered for dessert.

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On Tuesday I take a hike north on the AT from Fishers Gap.  The views at the beginning are wonderful. 


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It’s a Blue Ridge all right.

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Into the woods I go right beside big rocks which signal what the trail will be like.

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It’s up hill  and mostly rocky.  First just on the edges.

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But soon the trail is a little path between hillsides of rocks on one side and falling straight down the mountain on the other.   Watch your step!

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There are some pretty wild roses along the way in all shades  of pink and red.  Rose hips are in someone’s future.

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There are a few overlook rocks just off the trail.

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Wild columbine is blossoming along the path as it moves into the sunlight.

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Puffy white clouds have appeared in the blue sky by the time I return and the views are even better.

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The AT really is a great trail wherever you hike it.



Wednesday morning I took my camera with me this time for my morning hike up to the top of Lewis Mountain to see if anyone was up there, like the bear or the little fawn.


This is a wonderful trail to hike each morning from the campground.  Gets your heart pumping as you climb up hill a half mile.   First I find the trail lined with Mountain Laurel in full bloom.

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I have a dozen pictures of the lined trail but . . . .


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When I get to the top, to my first stop, there is no view.  Too foggy out there.  Mountain obscured.

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I move over to my second and better view and find the clouds moving.  I sit and watch them move for a while until they obliterate the mountain I was looking at.


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Time to go,  no mountain.

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The fog is coming for  me on my way back.

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I see this interesting plant which I think is in bloom.  Strange looking “flowers”.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen it before.  Can anyone identify it?

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Later, I take a hike from the campground on the AT again.  You justnever know what you’ll see and I’m not in the mood to drive to a trailhead today even though I do want to do some hiking.



What I see is a lot of mushrooms.  Here are a few.

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Who needs more dirt than can be found in the bark of a tree?

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It appears the butterflies like  my mystery flower.

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The fog comes to get me and send me home.

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Thursday was the Summer Solstice and I had a marveous day which I blogged about on the day itself inserting it into my far behind sequence.  If you’d  like to know what I did, here’s the  link to that post.


Friday ended my week with the promise of all that fog from yesterday.  We were fogged and rianed in all day long.


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I’ll be leaving tomorrow so this wraps up my time here in Shenandoah National Park.  I know it well and love it a lot.