Friday August 21 and Saturday August 22, 2015 Previous Post:
Lewis Mountain Campground Rachel Carson is Right
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
The Appalachian Trail goes around the edge of the campground at Lewis Mountain. I have hiked both directions from it after yesterday’s wonderful rainy day hike. But we have not hiked the short trail up Lewis Mountain so in the evening we walk up there. The AT crosses it.
Ahead I see another hiker. She’s looking at me. She looks, I look. She looks, I photograph. She looks, I start forward. She walks off.
After passing this two trunk twisted tree we arrive at the top of Lewis Mountain where the view isn’t obscured totally yet.
The view faces east. I wish it were less obscured since this is the direction away from the heavily developed Shenandoah Valley. From this direction you see nothing but wilderness.
We take an unsanctioned trail that we’re pretty sure will loop back to the maintained trail.
Through the trees we can see the orange ball of the sun setting. We move on up the path hoping to find an opening for a better view of the sunset.
This is the best we can do and the sun is dropping fast. So we decide to hot foot it back to the car and out to a nearby overlook on the Skyline Drive to see if we can catch it.
We’re too late for the sunset but we do get some lovely soft colors as the after glow.
And a wonderful waxing moon rising in the south.
Today we are hiking over Hightop Mountain. We start at Powell Gap and climb about 1100 feet in 3 miles.
We’re at about the two and half mile point when we reach Hightop Hut, built by the PACT for AT hikers to spend the night. We’ve been stopping at all the huts we go by, like today, usually for lunch. I’m ahead of David when I reach the post telling me to turn left.
I leave him a message just in case he has forgotten. Think he will miss it?
Inside the Hightop Hut is sleeping room on two levels for probably a max of 6. after that there are designated campsites around the hut.
I get the Hightop log out of its mouse/insect/bear proof metal box and sit down at the picnic table facing the fire pit to wait for David. The logs are always so much fun to read.
He does get the message and joins me for lunch. That’s his new giant preferred walking stick leaning up against the table.
All the huts have several bear poles for hanging your pack or your food. We read in the log that a local past thru hiker had come up and strung some oranges up for anyone to have. David takes a look and sure enough, another example of trail magic. Just imagine how good a fresh orange would taste after a long day on the trail or a long few days.
We head back to the AT where we find again a variety of mushrooms.
Up ahead is another trail post but this one is labeled spring.
The gold band warns hikers not to use their filtration devices as this is an open water source.
We walk down and take a look. Sure enough it’s open but it has a pretty serious lid and we wonder who created this spring and its lid and why the lid is no longer used. There are always so many questions.
We reach the crest of Hightop Mountain at 3587 feet and are happy to see there are some unobstructed views.
In both of these pictures, we wonder what is the smoke? Too much for a fire place and besides no one needs indoor heat today. Clearly it’s not a big fire. Too many trees for the camera or binoculars to answer the question.
David takes one last shot, the panorama, and then down we go.
Not much blooming on the trail today but there are still an amazing number of mushrooms and fungi.
This one was impossible to miss due to both its color and its size.
Where does nature get these loud orange colors and interesting shapes.
Notice the toe of my boot next to this white heart mushroom.
Beyond the summit, the trail turns very rocky.
With no glaciers to move these here, are they just the result of mountain erosion? They are huge!
Not sure there is a trail or even a section of a trail in this National Park without big trees to hug.
I can’t find an ID on this anywhere but it’s so neat looking. The bees love it and it grows in interesting shapes and trios.
We come to our third crossing of the Skyline Drive. We have about a mile and a third to go.
When we get back to the car, I check the miles and time. We have parked along the road at the Swift Run Gap entrance and right next to us is a butterfly convention being held on the blooming thistle. No goldfinches this time, bees instead.
Another lovely section of the Appalachian Trail in Shenandoah National Park completed.