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

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A Surprise Visit and Nectar Seekers Abound on the Way TO Jewell

Friday August 7 and Saturday August 8, 2015                                                      Most Recent Post:
Big Meadows Campground                                                                                   Jewell Hollow to Panorama
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia




Yesterday evening as we driving down the campground road to Winnona returning from our TO Jewell Hollow over Pinnacles and Mary’s Rock hike (see Most Recent Post Above), I noticed a van backing into a spot two up from us and was just as surprised as I’ve ever been to see Karen and Hailey Of The Back Porch View.   They have been traveling in the east from Washington State this year and were headed back home from DC when they decided to stop here and surprise us.  And a surprise it was.




Today was a foggy rainy mountain day unfortunately for them but they made the best of it by spending some time with us and at the Visitor Center. 








David took this picture of us as we during the day while it rained.  I suggested to Karen that she and Hailey might like the hike to Dark Hollow Falls and or the Ranger led tour of the Rapidan Camp, Hoover’s Summer White House.

When we got back together in the evening, I found out that the only fly in the ointment today was that Karen misplaced her purse when they went to the lodge for dinner.  She wasn’t as panicked as I would be since she was sure it was somewhere in the van.





It was touch and go this morning as I drove Karen up to the lodge to check on her purse so she wouldn’t have to wake Hailey to drive up.  Karen had torn the van apart and said she just could not understand how she could lose her small purse.  You can see it in the picture above.  She always keeps it around her neck and over one arm.  First the person at the desk said
they didn’t have it and she was crushed.  My heart dropped into the pit of my stomach.  You know what it means to lose your wallet.  But as she was sitting on a bench calling her bank, a second person came and said she had checked the safe and asked if this was Karen’s purse.  You have never seen anyone’s face light up like Karen’s.  Some very kind and honest person had turned it in.  I just wish that person had left their name so Karen could have let them know how grateful she was.



Tragedy averted, unfortunately Karen and Hailey have to get on the road today.  They need to be back for Hailey’s sophomore year in high school so Karen went down to make reservations for the ranger tour and then they packed up and headed out.   But not before I got some pictures of THE perfect van to take to Alaska or anywhere else for that matter.   I was so sorry I never got to see Lolita but this little number has everything you need in space you could parallel park on the street.

Roadtrek is an upscale Class B RV where they have seriously thought of everything.  I was just amazed at all the details in this 1996 model.



There is pretty much everything you’d find in any RV: a refrig, sink, stove, bathroom, two twin beds in the back, dining chairs and table and something we only have in the bathroom - skylights!   Obviously it has enough room for two people and their necessary “stuff”.



This model even comes complete with cats to keep your bed warm.



This is our last picture of Karen and her lucky Granddaughter Hailey.  I would have thought my grandmother was absolutely the cats pajamas if she’d had a van and took me all over camping every summer.  




Safe travels to you both.  Have a wonderful school year Hailey.  



Because of her previous vintage trailer Lolita, Karen is a member of the group Sisters on the Fly.  They describe themselves as “an outdoor adventure group”.  Their motto is “We have more fun than anyone”.  Both very appropriate for both of these girls as they fly down the road toward Hoover’s Brown House and then Nashville.   Thanks so much for stopping by to see us!!
Ya’ll come back now, ya’heah!



I wish they could have stayed and come with us on our AT section hike from Little Stony Man to Jewell Hollow.  I’ve posted about both the hike to Little Stony Man parking in The Stony Men post (link here)  and the hike from Jewell Hollow to Panorama in yesterday’s post (link the top of this page).   So we’re filling in.  Don’t ask me how I decide what order we’re doing these in because I don’t think I could tell you.



One of the things I’m not so crazy about at Shenandoah is that if you do not wish to backpack, or can’t for whatever reason, you must drive everywhere you want to hike.  this reminds me of Acadia although they have a shuttle service that hits all the campgrounds and trial heads.  I think this would be an excellent idea here. 

As we are driving up to Little Stony Man I remark that I don’t think I have ever seen this park so jam packed with people.  Every trail head parking area we pass is full and dozens of cars are on the grass and roadside.  So when we get to the Little Stony Man parking I am not terribly surprised to see the same thing.   This is August and a Saturday.   It’s exactly why we did the Stony Men on a week day.  I’m SO glad we don’t have to do it today.  I love the freedom of our life to choose an AT hike, the path less traveled, on the week-ends.

On principle I don’t like parking along the road in the grass but we do out of necessity until we walk up to the parking lot and someone is pulling out of a real space.  No one is in line so David hustles back to Ruby and she’s now out of harm’s way.



Everyone else is going on the red trail up to the left.  We, luckily, are going on the brown trail to the right and off the page.  We are happy to get out of this mess and onto the trail .





Here’s a map of today’s hike.  Again we are hiking from south to north.  That’s a real advantage in being a short section hiker.  You can look at the topo map and decide which way you want to go.  We usually hike south to north but not always.  It really depends on the incline and what David thinks about his ability to do it.   We’ll be going from the bottom blue arrow to the top.  If I didn’t want to do all of the AT in Shenandoah, I might skip a few miles of this that have the AT right next to the Skyline drive.   Those miles don’t make it as easy to feel at one with the environment especially since motorcycles are a favorite mode of transportation on the drive.  We did see someone on a motorcycle pulled over  a day or so ago and given a ticket for speeding.  They sure are loud.  No offense Paul.



The early sections of the trail are stony just like I would expect being so close to Little Stony Man.  But soon we’re eating David’s favorite bear food – with both hands










What turns out to be the highlight of this hike is all the critters in a nectar feeding frenzy.  All along the way the flowers are hosting their pollinators.





How about the velvety suit this fellow is wearing with his striped pants?




As usual the trail is lovely, there are some mushrooms










But the story of the day is the bees and butterflies.  The joe pye weed that frames our view is being given attention.








A swallowtail and a bee are sharing blossoms side by side on a bunch of Woodland Sunflower growing between two rocks.  Two bees share the same flower.  They all seem pretty intent on their purpose.











This thimbleberry eater is intent on his purpose as well.




This hike has views as well.  This one is looking down on the town of Luray Virginia.




Not sure why no one but me is interested in this queen anne’s lace.  It’s unusual to see it along the shade of the trail.  But we’re on the ridge top now where it can fin the sunshine it loves.   I love its delicate lacey flower.






In only a few steps we move back into the forest where rocky paths and mushrooms are more common than queen anne’s lace.








One more lovely overlook and a few ,more swallowtails bring us back into the woods where we see the double white blazes indicating we need to pay attention, something is ahead.







We don’t find whatever it is that we are supposed to pay attention to as indicated by the double trail marks unless it’s the increasingly rocky trail.











Not nearly as close as we would have expected to the double marks notice, we come to the Pinnacles Picnic area which is at the bottom of The Pinnacles.  We’re close to the end of our hike so we won’t be going up and over again.  We did that on our hike from Jewell Hollow to Panorama on Thursday.

I guess since I’m the one with the goal to hike all of it in the park, David has me pose with the sign suggesting that others from the picnic area hike a little way.   If they do they are starting out at 3400 feet. 



Karen asked in yesterday’s comments why we didn’t do multiple day hikes.  We have done backpacking in our past and really loved it but have gotten pretty attached to our comfy beds.  It’s a lot of preparation to get everything set for multiple nights on the trail. There is a lot of gear and food and………. We’ve talked about it but decided if we were going to do it, we’d like to pack a couple of days into a real wilderness are and then use that as a base camp for day hikes. 

The AT goes right through the picnic area.  Can you even see the one picnic table on the trail before you get to the main area and parking lot?  Nice for thru hikers to have a rest and use the restrooms if they wish.



We end our hike only 3/10th of a mile later enjoying those busy bees and butterflies along the way.




It was a relatively short five  fun miles and 11, 183 steps that completes my hike of the 20 miles of AT between Big Meadows and the Thornton Gap entrance to Skyline Drive.  I’ve done pieces of the trail South of Big Meadows and North of Thornton but this is the first complete section.  Back to fill in some more of those holes on another day.
I can never go wrong hiking any part of the Appalachian Trail.


  1. What a nice thing to have friends from all over, and to have them pop in for a visit like this!! So glad the purse was found!! Another beautiful spot and such nice pictures of the berries, bees and butterflies - and flowers! Thanks for sharing it all!

  2. Great photos of the bees and butterflies. I'm with you on overnight hikes. It's just too nice to do a long day hike and come back to our comfy home on wheels where we can shower, relax, sleep in our own bed, and not worry about the weather.

  3. Another beautiful day on the trail:) I enjoyed all the butterflies. How nice to have unexpected visitors:)

  4. thanks for ID'ing the silver spotted skipper, I had been meaning to pull the bug book out for that one and just hadn't yet

  5. How nice that you got to meet Karen and Hailey. It's quite an adventure they're on.

  6. I sure would love to find a trail full of berries like that! As we head towards Yellowstone we might encounter ripe berries...but I am afraid we'll be "sharing" them with bears!

  7. It does sound like they're in for a good trip! Cats are a nice companion to have along.

  8. So sweet to have a surprise visit from friends! What a great adventure for a grandmother and granddaughter. Love all of your wildflower photos -- I don't think I've ever seen Joe Pye weed in the wild, but I've grown it in my garden. It's one of my favorite late summer blooming flowers.

  9. I prefer the idea of a multiple-day backpacking hike, but don't know if I will ever be able to do it again. My knee still hasn't fully healed from my encounter with the New York rocks in May.

  10. Surprise visitors! How fun :) So glad Karen found her purse...and she has cats!! Cool :) Berries and flowers...Neat trail despite the cars along the drive.

  11. It is always nice to get surprise visitors! Not so sure I could stand the close quarters though :)

  12. A nice visit, you had a good time with Karen and her granddaughter. What things grandparents will do for their grandkids, very nice indeed. Love Roadtreks. There might be one in our future travels someday, have looked at them a lot.

    Now are we going to hear about all the starving bears in the park because you've been eating all their food? :cD

  13. Karen sure gave her grandaughter and early start in loving / enjoying nature and roughing it.
    All your flowers and butterflies photos are just great! I think Dave and I can get along a trail and start a race in berry eating.

  14. What a wonderful surprise visit! I know that feeling of getting a lost purse back :-) Don't think I've ever seen a bee and a butterfly sharing a bush, let alone the same flower, great pics! I especially love the tree spirit you captured in the photo after the mushrooms. It's great that you've been able to cover so much of the AT, and being able to enjoy the little details that thru hikers must miss by necessity gives you and David such a wonderful experience - and us too!

  15. That foggy day looks like the last four days in a row here in Argentia! Lovely butterflies.


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