Monday July 13 and Tuesday July 14, 2015 Previous Post:
Big Meadows Campground Summit of Hawksbill Mountain
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
Rained all night last night and most of the morning . It tapers off in the afternoon and actually quit for a while but most of the day the clouds are sitting on the mountains until it is too dark to see.
Just to get out, when it clears up a bit, I walk around the campground to see what other sites than the C loop might work for us and our criteria: relatively flat, long enough for Winnona and Ruby, not tooo close to the neighbors and good solar sun. Obviously with todays weather and in the late afternoon around 3, I’m not going to be able to judge the latter very well.
I walk over toward the D and E loops in the back of the campground nearest the wide open spaces.
Along the way the wildflowers are looking beautiful and I finally spy the Queen Anne’s Lace I’ve been keeping an eye out for. It’s delicate lacy blooms make it one of my summer favorites.
It actually looks like it is going to clear up when I leave the rig but I haven’t been out more than 10 minutes before the clouds just drop right back down on top of me. You can see them coming at me from behind this 5th wheel in a nice open spot on the D loop. Might have enough sun. Not sure it’s long enough.
I walk around through D and E but the fog is so thick that I really can’t see much. I check out a couple of the walk in campsites and think how much these would definitely have been our sites of choice in all those years when we were tent campers.
It never actually rains but the grasses have water droplets on them. Nothing seems to bother this little junco though.
Boy do I love loop E way in the back on the edge of the campground. But what I love about it is why I can’t be there. It’s fully shaded and when boondocking that doesn’t work well for the solar panels. Still I find the sites very attractive. They seem more secluded. The area seems quieter. If you are coming to Big Meadows and you don’t have solar, take a look at loops D and E.
TUESDAY JULY 14
Today we get out early (for David) and are on the trail at 9am to do a partial repeat hike. I’ve been to Dark Hollow Falls on my Rose River Falls Loop Hike from earlier in our stay here. I’d classify that hike as my favorite here so far so if you didn’t see that post and would like to, you can find it here.
We’re walking from Winnona down to the trailhead across from the Big Meadows Wayside on the Skyline Drive. It adds about another mile to the hike to leave the car here. Walking past our neighbors’ site we find this trio out for breakfast. They are on their way toward Winnona but we won’t be there. Too bad. Still, it’s just so much fun to have them in the campground and see them so often..
For those of you who are faithful consistent followers, and I love every one of you, I hope you won’t mind going back again. I promise there are things you didn’t see the last time.
Dark Hollow Falls is most commonly done as an in and out from the parking lot across from the Big Meadows Wayside. We are very pleased when we come out of the woods to see that the lot is EMPTY!
On the sign board, the trail is described as very so we don’t want David to try climbing back out on it. I came up to the falls from the Rose river hike so I haven’t seen this section of trial from the Skyline Drive down to the falls but I believe them because I did hike up to the falls from the Rose River Fire Road and know that though short, that was a steep climb.
Instead of in and out we hike down to the falls and then further down to the bottom and go out the more gently graded Rose River Fire Road as I did on my Loop hike. It worked out great until the end.
This is the route we would be going back up on an out and back. Nice steps but no thanks.
Almost immediately we are following the Hogcamp Branch. Where does a pretty little stream like this get such a name?
We can tell from all the steps that this is a well traveled hike.
The stream falls into several nice pools along the way. I am really glad I’m getting to see this section of the trail. Although the sun makes it difficult to see in the first picture. You probably could slide down this rock face into the pool if you wanted. Especially if you had an inner tube or small mat to sit on.
Notice who is which side of this sign. Who is obeying the rules and who is NOT.
We can definitely hear the falls growing louder and louder as we pass by this enormous rock outcropping.
And there it is and no one else is there! Whoopee!!
Our timed photos seem always to be shot from a rock at our feet.
Of course you know me, one or two or three pictures of a beautiful waterfall is never enough. Even though I’ve been here before my smile is about to break my face.
Eventually we follow the branch on down past other small falls and cascades.
At this one we come upon two serious photographers with tripods who insist on being in everyone’s picture so they can get theirs. We wait a bit for them to get it together and get what they want. Other people come, take pictures of them and go but they seem to be here for the duration.
So I zoom in beyond them.
AT the bottom of the Dark Hollow Falls Trail where it joins the Rose River Fire Road, we are greeted by the final long cascade. From here the Hogcamp Branch tumbles on down to the Rose River. That’s the way I came up from my last hike. We aren’t going on down there. We turn left and begin our reasonably gentle climb back to Skyline Drive.
We are definitely making better progress than this fellow. We stop to watch him for a while. He is really dragging that house. I guess he might be called a full timer too.
We enjoy the gentle woodsy walk with wildflowers and mushrooms along the trail’s edges.
Nobody is hallucinating here and no alteration was done to this purple mushroom. AMAZING!
When we arrive at the large patch of phlox on the side of the road I know the mowed path opposite it goes to the Cave Cemetery.
I can’t help but think that someone planted this lovely patch in just this spot.
David hasn’t seen this sweet resting place so we walk on up. I showed many pictures of it in the previous post about my time here so I’ll only add a few.
This Red Admiral appears to be sunning on Private Cave’s tombstone. He made it out of the Civil War and lived to be 69. Only a tad older than I am but over 100 years ago.
I am always taken with the plain field stones marking the passing of some loved one.
Another Confederate Soldier has a visitor today.
We both notice that the area seems to have been freshly mowed or cleaned by a weed eating machine. And then we notice that whoever it was seems to have done some serious damage to the mettle listing of those who were buried here prior to 1940 with no headstone. Notice the pole is tilting down and the glass cover of the frame is on the ground and broken. I find that very sad and hope they are going to come back and repair it so the plaque isn’t damaged by weather. Some of the Cave family obviously went to a lot of trouble to have this made and posted here.
That’s the sad part of this visit here but then I notice something that looks a bit odd and go over to take a look.
OK this is another one of those GIANT fungi. Aain it is at the back and base of a tree.
I hope you can tell by my hand how really large this one is. Not as big as the first one I saw a few days ago but bigger than anything else. What is it called I wonder. It has to be the Giant somethingorother.
And it’s filled with water in the center.
When we reach the top of the fire road we have to decide whether to walk back on the drive to the top of the Dark Hollow Falls Trail and back to the campground or to take the Horse Trail back though the woods. Having done this same thing on another trail, I thought we’d learned that these trails are not graded at all PERIOD. They are rough and rocky and I vote no. But David says he wants to walk through the woods so we do.
It turns out to be UP and UP and UP and then down and then UP and at probably as much of a strenuous slope as the Dark Hollow Falls Trail. It also turns out to rough, rocky and longer than the mile walking down the road. But David puts one foot in front of another slowly along and in the end says he’s still glad he did it. I definitely still do not agree. Sorry I didn’t take more pictures of the worst sections.
But I did get a kick out of this laughing mushroom on the way back.