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

Henry David Thoreau

Dark Hollow and Rose River Falls

Friday May 25, 2018                                                                       Most Recent Posts:
Lewis Mountain Campground
Lewis Mountain Top
Shenandoah National Park                                                               More Wonder Headed North

The Dark Hollow Falls Trail begins on the Skyline Drive near Big Meadows and follows Hogcamp Branch, on my right,  down hill.


I prefer to hike my waterfalls coming up so I can enjoy all the cascades without having to turn around.  But that means I have to get to the bottom to come back up.  There are several ways to do that including just hiking Dark Hollow down and then back out.  Today I’ve decided to hike Dark Hollow down and the longer Rose River Falls Trail back up to Skyline Drive.


The music of the branch is lovely and it is wonderful to have it so near that I can look over and see the cascades and little fallettes.   Can I make up a new word?


There are several pools that would make for great swimming on a hot day.  Today is not one of those and this water is COLD.

I reach the top of the falls where I can see the Hogcamp Branch going over for the upper falls.


Usually the falls are  not so full and I can walk out on the rocks in order to get a picture of the entire fall from very top where one big fall divides into two and then all the way down but it’s too deep, too strong and too slippery today.


Here’s a different angle from below the pool so I can see the very top.


This is a zoom of the very top.  LOTS of water coming over.


There are more fallettes and at least one more pool before I reach the bottom of the Dark Hollow Trail and the lower falls.


Some people turned around at the upper falls and hiked back up.  The ones who came all the way down either turn around or take the Rose River Fire Road back up to the Skyline Drive but they’ll be about 2 miles north of where they parked their cars.  OR they take the Rose River Falls trail up to that same spot which is what I’m doing today.


I follow the Rose River up

It’s a rugged path and the wet areas are slippery.  In these situations, I’d much rather be climbing up than coming down.  At least I don’t slip as much going up.    This section goes down to the river, then walks along it, crosses over  and then climbs back up to the falls.  So there  is a bit of slipping going on here and fewer pictures.  See the trail, see the river way down there on the left.


It’s just one  cascade after another.


Wonderfully close to the trail eventually.



I can see ahead the very nice metal bridge to take hikers to the other side of the river.


Is that picturesque or what?


On the other side the climb is all up.



Many parks all over the country seem to have one of these perched on top rocks that people like to try to push off.  Here it can’t be a glacial erratic since the ice sheet stopped in Pennsylvania. So I have no idea how such a round rock came to be or got there.  Glad no one is trying to push it today or it would roll right over me.


Zoomed in it looks like a composite.  Can you help me out Sue Malone?


From the very rocky path I can see the falls in the distance.


Better though blocked views the closer I get.  Clearly there is A LOT of water pouring down.


I wander around taking pictures from every angle.  Can’t decide what I like best.  Straight on in the middle of the river would be nice.  HA!


I find a place where it is possible to climb down onto the rocks beside the pool.


Ok I’ve found the spot.  Despite the photo bombing branch, it’s a decent look at the Rose River Falls.


Here’s the tricky trail I take to get up to the top.  All part of the Rose River Trail.  Don’t try this one in flip flops.

Standing on top I’m very happy that the park has decided not to put up barriers and rails.


The Rose River flows down, picks up Hogspen Branch at the bottom of the falls trail, flows a total of 8.8 miles and out of the park where it joins up with the Robinson River and ultimately all 3 combined join the Rapidan River.


Leaving the falls, I’m still walking up stream following the river which rises from a spring, I assume,  south of Hawksbill Mountain.



At this point I reach one of the wonderful cement markers that are unique to Shenandoah but should not be.  Every park should have these, their metal bands tell what’s in every direction.  They tell me I have 9/10ths of a mile to go to reach Skyline Drive. 


It continues to be a steady though easier climb up for my last stretch but now the question becomes, when I reach the drive, then what?  Do I add 2 miles onto my hike by taking the AT back to Ruby.   Or can I hitch a ride with someone going back to Big Meadows.


And the answer is that shortly after I reach the parking lot, a father and grown son pair, that I spoke to on the trail come out of the woods.  I say hello again and ask if they happen to be going to Big Meadows.  They are and would bbe happy to give me a ride to the Dark Hollow Falls parking on their way.   So I am happily chauffeured in a snazy BMW.    Wonderful ending to a fabulous waterfall day!!

Lewis Mountain Top

Wedesday May 23, 2018                                                             Most Recent Posts:
Lewis Mountain Campground                                                        More Wonder Headed North
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia                                             Celia Turns Two

At the exact spot where the AT comes to the campground there are actually 3 directions you can go.  I’ve gone to the right *south”, to the left “north” and now I’m going straight ahead and UP.  I’m going to the top of Lewis Mountain for which the campground is named.


In one section, wild azalea lines the path



Seeing such bright pink in the midst of all the green is always such a great surprise.



When I reach the top I know this first view is not the only one but you’d really have to know that since the path between them is well grown over.


The second view is my favorite.     Love those rolling Blue Ridges.

I’m looking East toward Madison County Virginia.


It’s a lovely spot to stay a while and I do.  It’s an easy 1 mile hike from the campground which I do nearly every day either in the morning or the evening.


This is not a loop hike.  It’s an  out and back retracing the same way I came up.  Many folks prefer loops.  They don’t want to travel the same route back.  I’ve always been convinced that it’s not the same trail if you are going a different direction and today really proves me right in spades.

Coming up I did not see these lovely yellow lady slippers but they jump right out at me on my way back.



I’m back at the bottom now and headed for another section of the AT between Bearfence Mountain and Bootens Gap.


I find a nice big tree to hug.

Some lovely little white and purple violets with more road markers pointing the way.


With all the rain we’ve had, everything is green and wild looking.  If it weren’t for all the feet the trail would be over grown as it gets narrower and narrower from the overgrowth.


I think these may be wood poppies.


But what interested me most was this close up shot of the over reaching Daddy Long Legs.  Wonder what he’s reaching for?  Can you see his thread thin legs?

The wildflower of this hike was the False Solomon Seal.  In a previous post I showed the Solomon Seal.  Both have long arching stems and look almost identical.  But the Solomon Seal has bell shapped flowers that hang down from the stem underneath.  The False Solomon Seal has one cluster at the end of the long stem.



Today I see them everywhere and their clusters are all different.


Pretty hard to tell them apart when their flowers are gone.  At least for me.


Not sure why millipedes always make me laugh.  Maybe it’s the visual of all those little feet marching in a row.  Of course they don’t have 1000 feet but still it’s a funny image.  Apparently there a many many types of milipedes in different colors and they’ve been around for thousands of years.  Who knew?


There are often giant rocks along the way.  I know they aren’t glacial eratics, the glaciers didn’t reach here so I suppose they are simply the bones of Mother Earth weathered into view.


I also showed a picture of the dark brown Squaw Root in a previous post.  Today I come upon the lighter colored one.


It doesn’t produce chlorophyll.  It is parasitic on trees, mainly oaks for its nutrition.


IMG_3847The Appalachian Trail is a simply beautiful trail wherever I hike it.

Once upon a time I wanted to through hike the AT from Georgia to Maine and read all the through hiker journals I could get my hands on,  really researched it and started making a plan.  But then I realized that push hiking just isn’t my style and I’d feel like I was missing a lot having to make a certain number of miles each day.  I am seldom after the “goal” but rather just what I can find along the way.

So now I just wander the trail to my heart’s content.  Although I admit, I’m still looking for my first black bear this visit.   In 2015 I saw quite a few but we were here longer than we’ll be this year.  Still, I keep looking.  One day soon, I’ll be lucky.