Big Meadows Campground Hiking Up and Out to the Final SurpriseShenandoah National Park
I have to admit up front that I did a lousy job of wielding the camera for Carrie and Matthew’s first visit to see us since they returned from their honeymoon. I was just too busy enjoying them to remember to take pictures.
They arrive early enough for breakfast this morning after a 2.5 hour drive. They are staying at the lodge for the night. The weather is nice enough to have breakfast outside (notice the long sleeves on some of the breakfasters) but then the clouds drop down and the sprinkles begin.
Good sports that they are, Carrie and Matthew agree to hike down to the Visitor Center rather than drive. We loan them raincoats which fit, more or less. Matthew is a much bigger guy than David. The rain lightens up quickly and we don’t need the raincoats for most of the walk.
The campground committee is out to see us off.
Somehow I didn’t take any pictures of us on the walk or at the Visitor Center where we took in the very well done exhibits and saw the excellent film on the CCC in Shenandoah. Afterwards they check into their room and we go over to give it a look see.
The rooms are basic, rustic and with their knotty pine walls seem right for the area although I think the cabins rather than these semi-motel rooms would have been better. We all felt these rooms were too expensive at over $170 a night with taxes for such simple accommodations in a motel like building.
A short hike to the Blackrock Overlook is right behind the lodge so while we wait for them to open the dining room for dinner, we walk up there. Matthew checks out the map and is out in front leading us up the trail.
So far in front, you can’t see him in this picture. ;-)
Of course we have to get everyone’s picture with the view in the background. It’s pretty hazy right now and the near ground view from here is overlooking Stanley Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley.
Time for dinner at the lodge restaurant. Matthew orders delicious sweet potato fries as an appetizer and the guys have a beer while we wait for our entrees.
Again I am remiss in not taking even one picture of Matthew’s turkey dinner or the pot roast dinners the other 3 of us had. Can’t say I’d rave about the food but it’s good down home cooking if nothing special.
Of course I did get pictures of the desserts, blackberry ice cream pie for Matthew and for Carrie and David to split. The slice was huge so it wasn’t a problem to split it. Matthew gave the last part of his to Carrie which of course ended up with David who has always been the family plate cleaner.
I’m the only one who had the blackberry cobbler with whipped cream AND a scoop of blackberry ice cream. The cobbler has a graham cracker crust which I didn’t think went as well with the tart cobbler as another kind of crust might have.
But as you can see there were smiles all around, even David with the window shades putting stripes on his face. I was wedged between the window and the table, clearly standing too close to Matthew, when I took this picture. My other alternative was taking into the window and I know that doesn’t work.
We finish the evening with a few rounds of Mexican Train and beer for everyone but me. The big winner is Matthew who relaxes on the sofa after his success. Bill and Nancy will not be surprised to find that I was the big loser.
Now where did that beer go?
This morning we head out to hike one of the prettiest trails in this area, the Rose River Trail, and catch the Dark Hollow Falls at the end. I’ve put up a very thorough post on this beautiful loop hike which you can find here. When we arrive at the trail head I am flabbergasted to find that I have left my camera back in Winnona. I set it down to do something on my way out the door and forgot to pick it back up again. Distracted by the wonderful company I guess. Or my forgetfulness is becoming of epic proportions.
Thus, the hike part of this post relies totally on pictures from Carrie and David. Carrie’s posts are attributed. David’s are not since he took some of them and I took others with his camera.
Matthew is off down the trail as I check the trailhead post mileages.
Of course the trail is down hill at the start and up hill at the end. Aren’t they all?
Soon the trail is running along side the Rose River and we follow it to where the Hogcamp Branch joins the Rose. The Rose River then continues on down while we turn and go back up along the Hogcamp.
As those of you who have read my previous blog about the Rose River know, there are cascades all the way down the river. Matthew, it turns out, is a rock hopper around the water.
For now Carrie sticks to the trails. I think she’s torn between her parents slow ‘turn over every stone’ approach to hiking and Matthew’s wild explorations.
But the slow and steady does reveal the treasures like this American Toad.
One of today’s two photographers at work.
Another spot where you can get close to the water.
Matthew is like a curious puppy. He gets out ahead exploring and then returns to see where we are in our slow hiking style.
Mr. Spy Berry strikes again and his near clone is right behind him. Too many berries on the trail is another reason we seem to take a long time.
I do manage to get a picture of the three of them together at the lovely bridge over Hogcamp Branch.
Just beyond the bridge is the easiest spot to get into either of the rivers so I take advantage to soak my head. It isn’t hot exactly at about 84 but it’s humid climbing up hill from Rose River Falls to Dark Hollow Falls.
I try to get some of them to join me, but no takers.
I am very tempted to take off the legs to these hiking pants and walk in the shorts into the water but it is pretty cold and I haven’t brought a towel to dry my feet off for putting them back in my boots. David is carrying a back pack so I’ll try to remember to stick a foot towel in there on any river hike in the future.
Well I had a great time even if they didn’t join me.
A look back at the bridge before heading on up.
Carrie joins Matthew in some minor rock hopping. She’s a bit more cautious than he.
I guess she has wisely decided that perhaps the rocks are too wet and thus too slippery so she’ll salute us from this spot rather than higher up.
Matthew did slip once but only got his shoe soaked. He did have to walk all the way out with a soaking shoe and wet sock. Not too much fun. His foot looked like a prune when we got back. No pictures of that. HA!
Just a short sit here to take in the beauty and get some of its energy. This is the sort of spot I could stay all day. But our puppy is off and running again. Thanks for the picture David, I think I may make it my desktop.
When I see the wooden steps up the steep incline, I know we are nearing the end. David is behind me, the “kids” are on ahead.
From having done this hike twice before, I also know that there are a series of beautiful cascades just before the trail ends at the Rose River Fire Road and the road bridge over Hogcamp Branch.
We make it to the bottom waterfall of the series known as Dark Hollow Falls. Now it’s up up past 2 more falls to the biggest one.
We arrive at the end of the Rose River Trail, turn onto the Rose River Fire Road and take the Dark Hollow Trail up past two more smaller falls to the big one. David decides he’s seen the main Dark Hollow falls recently enough that he’ll wait for us here in this serene spot at the 3rd falls. Matthew stays with him for a while as Carrie and I climb the rest of the way to the top.
Carrie and I don’t stay long at the top since the boys are waiting for us. But on the way back down, we find Matthew coming up to join us. Carrie turns around and goes back up with him to see Dark Hollow’s main falls. I continue on down to join David. I now wish I’d gone with them to get a picture of the two of them at the falls. DARN!
The beautiful Dark Hollow Falls.
A bit of the highest section is not well visible in this photo.
A bit of the highest section is not well visible in this photo.
The end of the hike is a gentle up hill to the Skyline Drive on the Rose River Fire Road. Climbing all the way up to the drive on the Dark Hollow Trail is a steep rocky wet climb so we choose the longer way around. I’m not in any hurry to finish.
As we are walking up the fire road this group is coming toward us on their way to Dark Hollow. Carrie takes a sneaky picture of their feet. We are trying not to laugh. I don’t think they have any idea, based on their footwear, that the trail isn’t wide and gentle all the way up to the falls. Not sure how they will do in these shoes on the wet slick rocks. While the fire road is sort of a stroll in the park especially down hill, the Dark Hollow Trail is rocky, steep, wet and slick.
Back at the coach we set out the dominos again. This time we play the straight Bill and Nancy Mills Rules and Carrie wins. Again I am the big loser.
David had one bad round in which he drew nearly every tile on the table before he could play. His rack was full and then some as you can see in the second picture although he’s smiling there. Not so much at the end of the round in the third picture. Matthew is smiling though. At that point, he is in the lead.
David has to draw nearly 30 tiles and his score for this round is over 200 when Matthew goes out.
You’d think by this picture that David was the big loser but nope, that would be me. You’d think Matthew was the winner but that would be Carrie. You just never can tell in this game.
Too soon they have to go home. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive back for them and they are still working people you know. We’re hoping they will come again next month and visit us in another of the campgrounds in Shenandoah National Park.