Wednesday June 3, 2015
Stony Fork Campground
It rained yesterday after Bill and Nancy left lucky for them. It is predicted to rain today too but I want to hike at least half of the Seven Sisters Trail before it does. The trail is 5 miles long and goes over the mountain and down to the Seven Sisters picnic and Day use area on VA 717 which is the road that leads to the campground. If you hike over the mountain, you either have to come back over or hike back to the campground down the road. Either way it’s a 10 mile hike. Given the rain we think 5 miles is enough so our plan is to hike to the top, turn around and come back.
You have to take the Nature Trail to get to Seven Sisters. The nature trail is conveniently near our site. As we start out, things are still very wet, it’s foggy, the air is thick with moisture. Foggy pictures are sometimes not the best but I actually love pictures of people moving off in the distance into the fog.
The turn to the Seven Sisters trail is about half a mile up the Nature trail. I guess that really makes it a 6 mile trail up and back. It isn’t long until we begin to see the Mountain Laurel. It’s just lovely and we are here at its peak. Spring and early summer in the Blue Ridge Mountains are hard to beat for beauty.
Some of the Laurel is white and others are pink.
We see all of this on the Nature Trail before we even get to the Seven Sisters cut off.
The Mountain Laurel seems to get better and better, thicker and thicker, the higher we go.
I have my raincoat around my waist. David chooses to carry an umbrella. Just in case the weather people have guessed wrong.
The 7 sisters sign is clearly pretty old. Half of it is on the ground. David holds it up so we can read it. Sort of.
The mountain Laurel continues up the Seven Sisters Trail. We find a few rhododendron blossoms but it’s clear we have just missed it. Darn!
The trail becomes steeper here. It is up all the way to the top obviously and less and less gradually as we go.
Anyone know who this is? He was actually all green, the light makes him look white on one side I hope he isn’t someone bad since after watching him for a while I let him pass on his way.
There are very few openings from the trail to views. I’m not expecting one at the top either but it’s the journey not the destination and the trail itself is lovely.
As you can see in this picture, the trail is level side to side but we are walking up the side of the mountain. Opps if you step too far to the right.
There are lots of oak trees so I’m not surprised to see squaw root.
I just wonder how these big trees cling on to the side of this mountain and then grow straight up. It’s a long reach for me.
We find a few more isolated rhododendron and lots of evidence on the ground that we have just missed the big show. The heavy rains of the last few days have striped most of the flowers. I’m really sorry to have missed most of the rhododendron. They are a spectacular Appalachian mountain flower.
David’s low blood counts make him winded as he walks but he soldiers on. He does takes a break on a short flat spot before continuing on through a section of rock strewn path. I wonder how all these pieces of rock, I assume sandstone, got here. This is the only place on the trail we see them.
We come to a section of blueberries almost closing the path. In August you might find some black bears here. The flowers have just gone and the berries beginning to form.
Mountain Laurel all the way.
David and I agree we will turn around at 1:15 to try to beat the rain. So I move on ahead since I know we are close and take this photo to prove I made it. By the time I reach the top, at 3310 feet, the rain clouds are all around. Clearly they need new signs on this trail
Up here on the top it is nice and flat. I’d like to walk around and check for views but it’s time to do the down hill. David’s waiting and my time is up.
I do find David waiting and on the way down he gives one of the big oaks a hug and thanks for holding the mountain in place.
I actually love doing a trail out and back since I always see things going back that I didn’t see coming in, like the moss lining the paths.
Just before we reach the campground I notice this huge furry poison ivy vine on this tree. It almost looks like a lightning strike. I’m glad it’s not right next to the trail with its vines growing out over in an attempt to grab a bald head without a hat.
It sprinkles some on our way back but we make it before the real rain. It’s a really lovely invigorating hike. One of these times I’d like to go all the way down the other side too. Great way to spend a break in the rains.