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

Henry David Thoreau

He has No Idea how He Made My Day

Tuesday August 11, 2015                                                                                  Most Recent Post:
Big Meadows Campground                                                                                Great Finds on the Trail to Compton Gap and Beyond
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia


On yesterday’s post Grammy asked what we take for lunch on our hikes.  The answer is that depends on how long it is.  If we are out early and the hike will get us back by 1:00 or so, we take snacks, usually pretzels and fruit.  If it’s a longer hike we take those two plus a sandwich, usually hummus with spinach and tomato on whole grained bread.  Lunch is the meal where we don’t try to be very creative.  We like those 3 things and they are easy to pack and carry.



Today we begin our hike at Panorama Parking where we left off hiking on August 6th.  That post on our hike from Jewell Gap to Panorama including up and over Mary’s Rock and rain showers is here if you’d like to read it to see what leads up to today’s hike.

We’re headed north this time into the northern third of the park.  The trail crosses highway 211, the first major highway we’ve had to cross in hiking the AT through the park and probably the only one.  It’s a 4 lane highway heading down to Luray so you have to be careful to look both ways.  The highway department has a neat sign along the road just before the marked crosswalk between the two sections of the trail. 









Across the road we walk on a fire road and then the trail takes a left turn and we are back in the intimate woods.




One of the things I love about the AT in Virginia is that it is both  green and colorful in every section.  Really wonderful to walk.  Even during the height of the summer I can have a wonderful solo experience on this trail.  It is not one of the big traffic trails in this National Park that had 1.14 million visitors in 2013.  Of course a huge number of those never leave the overlooks and restaurants.  But as I’ve shown in previous posts, the trail head parking is packed in August.  So these AT section hikes are wonderfully peaceful and beautiful  alternatives.













We come across two section hikers.  The veteran hiker tells us that she’s done a thru hike but her friend has never been on the AT so they are out to walk the 105 miles in Shenandoah National park to give her a taste of it.   Look at their feet and tell me which one is the thru hiker.



If you guessed the one wearing these shoes, you are right.  I was slack jawed that she could or would hike the entire AT in these shoes.  I asked her about it and she says she doesn’t like shoes so she just wants something on the bottom of her feet.  You can imagine that I had visions of broken ankles.   The amazing things you see and learn on the AT.



When we come to a nice rocky over look, we decide it’s the perfect place for lunch.




David checks for a good flat spot to sit and I set up the timer for the lunch shot. 



These serve to remind us what we looked like on this day in this place.



Since I couldn’t take the lunch shot from behind with both of us in it to get the view, this one of David will show it.




The terrain on each hike is quite varied -  the ups, the flats, the downs, the rocky, the pine needle covered, the soft humus paths. 









I’m walking along the this section of the trail when I hear a snap.  I look up and the highlight of the day is right there.  I stop instantly, dead in my tracks.  He looks up.  I take pictures.  He looks down, he looks up, he wanders off slowly.  I just LOVE that they live here and I can walk in their neighborhood and perhaps be lucky enough to see them.






Isn’t he just GRAND!





The bad part of this is that David was enough behind me that he didn’t get here in time to see the bear.  I thought if I stood still long enough, the bear might stay and David might walk up although that probably would have been enough to send the bear hurrying off. 

Bears see as well as we do but they are nearsighted like  me.  That’s probably why the bear and I stood for a bit and looked at each other until he thought there wasn’t anything there or he got bored with me.  So it’s important not to move when you do see them and not to make noise or hike too fast if you want to see them.  David was hiking just a little too slowly.


It’s pretty hard for anything to fully engage my attention on the rest of the hike.   The rocks are huge and incredible.



We meet another hiker who is out on a section hike from Pennsylvania.  She and her husband were section hiking up from Springer to Harper’s Ferry this year when “his back went out” as she put it.  So they went home so he could have medical attention and it’s turned out that he cannot carry a pack anymore.  So he is her trail angel.  He brings her to a drop off point and comes back some time later, neither David nor I can remember how many days she’s out before he picks her up.  She wants to finish their hike but she seemed very happy, almost eager, to stop and chat with us.




The reindeer grayish Thorn Antler Lichen is lovely there above the bright green moss.






An abundance of mushrooms line the paths growing  in interesting combinations and places.  There is one with a slug walking around on top which isn’t surprising given all the rain we’ve had.  There is even one that looks like  the skull from the pirates’ skull and crossbones.  At least it does to me.










But even with all these wonderful things to attract my attention on the rest of the hike, that bear is still taking up nearly all the space in my mind and is responsible for the giant grin on my face. 

He has no idea how happy he made me just by being out there doing what he does on this Tuesday in August.  You just never know what you’ll see following those white blazes on the Appalachian Trail.




  1. Lucky you and to get a great picture as well. Thanks for sharing!

  2. yes. . .the bear is just grand. . .great pic!

  3. I grew up in the forests, hills, and mountains of Pennsylvania. Live in Texas now and have hiked the trails here in the state parks, from Huntsville SP to the Davis Mountains State Park. I love to hike and get up close and personal with nature.

  4. Nice bear. I have never had a bear run from me. That old saying about them being more afraid of you than you are of them isn't necessarily true. In 35 years hiking alone in the woods for my work I had many bear encounters. Most of them weren't too worried about me, but I was worried about them, believe me! Too many bear stories here in the northwest from fellow workers. Sigh. But the only trouble I ever had working alone in the woods was with humans, not animals, and with pack mentality dogs. Dogs are way more scary than bears, cougars, coyotes, or wolves by far.

  5. Nice pictures of the bear. Glad he didn't come close to you to complain about you eating all his berries... ;c)

  6. Wow!! The bear was spectacular!! Super photos! I am just glad he went the opposite way. Hope you carry bear spray:) All the fungi is gorgeous. I can't imagine hiking with any type open shoes. I am always getting things stuck under my feet. All I can think is pain!

  7. There are AT hikers out there with all sorts of novel clothing and equipment. I sure wouldn't want to walk on any trail in that kind of sandal although I've known people who do. I love seeing bears - unfortunately when I lived in NC they usually ran when I came out because they were raiding my bird feeders or the trash cans. Bad bears!

  8. How lucky you were to see that bear but too bad David missed him. I would have been smiling all day, too!

  9. Wow, you were lucky! We have always wanted to see a bear on our hikes but from a distance, we don't want to surprise the bear or anything. You managed to get a really nice shot of it, too bad that David didn't get to see it too.


  10. Another beautiful hike and ANOTHER bear...lucky, lucky you!! Like the rattlesnake, I have never seen a bear while hiking only from the car. However, I would much rather see the bear than the rattlesnake;-))

  11. YAY, bear sighting! How cool is that!!! I totally get your fascination and day-long grin! We are in serious bear country now...gotta be on the lookout for both black and grizzlies...a little nervous...

  12. I can see why he would have made your day. You wouldn't believe how many hikers we saw in NZ who were hiking barefoot ... and on rocky, pebbly trails that we would have found incredibly painful. Don't like shoes was a common response ... must be the Kiwi Way was our response.

  13. Nice to find a peaceful trail in our National Parks. And what a bonus to see the bear.

  14. Lucky you to see such a beautiful bear so close to the trail. I have seen bare foot hikers in the desert.

  15. Not sure I could have gotten that nice shot of the bear. I would have been shaking like a leaf!

  16. What a cool experience to see that gorgeous creature! Do you ever get nervous? It would be exhilarating and scary at the same time!

  17. How very cool, all of it but of course the bear!! And, beautiful.

  18. I wouldn't have known which of them was the through hiker either.

    If one must have a face to face with a bear, it's a good time of year. They're well fed at the moment, and consequently in a good mood.

  19. My head was filled with visions of hummus sandwiches until I saw your picture of Mr. Bear! Nice shot.

  20. I'm so appreciative that you've been sharing your experience of "section hiking" the Appalachian Trail. It's far more beautiful than I realized. And it's amazing how uncrowded the trail is. You do encounter some interesting people, and even better, interesting wildlife. How cool that you saw a bear!

  21. Well, you filled the log with lots of interesting g photos but I so agree the bear was the very best. It was a big bear too. We saw a bear too just before leaving the park. But it was just a week one.

  22. Love the fungi and that cool little three-step rock at the beginning. Your trail buddies were interesting with both of them doing part of the trail for someone else - one in his place and one showing her the "ropes". Nice slice of humanity. Mr Bear is very cool, can only imagine you two focusing on each other and deciding to go your separate ways. He was probably grinning all day too :-))))

  23. Nice views and mushrooms (yes that one orange one does look like a pirate or skull and crossbones but THE BEAR!!!!! How absolutely cool is that?!@#@! I guess everything else on the hike would pale by comparison. Sandals for hiking? I would stub every one of my toes AND fall down and break something.....


  24. A bear sighting! That is quite exciting indeed! Definite highlight :) I've seen folks trail run barefoot - some people's bodies allow it - but, I'm with you, I would fear the worst. Even with boots or tennis shoes after awhile the bottoms of my feet get sore - those sandals really had no padding to speak of - each to her own, I suppose. Nice lunch spot and mushrooms.


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