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Evening on Lewis Mountain – Hightop the Next Day

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.


  1. I am so envious of anyone who can be on the trails in the Shenandoah this time of year. Hard to say how many hikers the shelter was built to hold, but as I've said before, "the shelter is full when everybody is in". You'd be amazed how cozy it can get, especially on a snowy, cold night when nobody wants to camp outside the shelter.

  2. Nice fungi!

    Those rocks may have been moved by the glaciers of the last ice age over 10,000 years ago.

  3. I thought your pictures of the setting sun through the trees was magical. Not something I've seen before. :c)

    Amazing how those huge rocks get balanced on each other, makes you wonder what forces there were to place them that way. Nature always is amazing!

  4. Yes indeed, another lovely section! It's terrific that you have so many hiking trails within reach of the medical care you need to be close to at this time. Beautiful!

  5. That deer certainly was well aware of you!

  6. Another great view from the top. It dawned on me how much earlier the sun is setting already. It sort of sneaks up on you!

  7. Sweet deer face. I'm thinking David's walking stick is not nearly as giant for him as it is to you :-))) Love the sun captured in the fork of the tree and David standing close enough to reach out and touch it! Hope the little smoke wasn't the start of something bigger. So many fires burning here in WA right now that any smoke is cause for alarm :-( Love the fuzzy long flowers and the butterflies on the thistle. Your hikes are just wonderful!

  8. I love the sunset sky. I believe you got there at the right time:)

    Boy, the orange fungi sure brightens up the trail. Such a pretty orange. Glad there was a beautiful view at the top on Saturday:)

  9. Love the Sunset, Moonrise and Butterfly photos!!! Always such amazing nature to be found up there:o))

  10. Your sunset shot is so beautiful -- and the moon, as well. Great message to David on the trail! He must have known that you would leave him directions. :-)

  11. That is a cool way of signaling David. In our case, since Im always behind and when faced with a fork on the trail our agreement is always follow the trail to the right. This has been very helpful in our hikes as Steve walks so fast.
    I enjoyed all the fungi adding color to your trail.
    That sunset shot is actually beautiful, and so is the waxing moon.

  12. I am amazed by all the fungi and mushrooms, definitely a bonus in the park. The peek-a-boo sunset was stunning. Sometimes the limited views give surprise settings. Glad you have been finding more to see and do.

  13. I love the story about the oranges. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Beautiful hike. I like the sun, the oranges, the mushrooms, the boulders, and the butterflies. Beautiful moon picture too.

  15. That two-trunk tree appears to be dancing. I get leaving food for the hikers but don't the birds get to it? You make me long to go shrooming.

  16. What a beautiful sunset! The orange mushrooms are cool and love the deer watching you. What a pretty face she has. I have seen a bunch of deer around here lately. xxxooo


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