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

Henry David Thoreau

Weekend in Shenandoah National Park

Friday June 2, 2017                                                                                              Most Recent Posts:
Big Meadows                                                                                                          Long Time No Post
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia                                                            Happy First Birthday Celia Claire


Thanks to you all for such great comments.  They really are wonderful to read and motivating.  With that incentive, I went to work on this post about this past week-end.

The Shenandoah National Park Association sponsored a workshop on Nature Journaling.  It started Friday afternoon and ran through Saturday.  Since I’ve kept a daily handwritten journal for over 40 years, I guess I could say I’m interested in journaling.  I’m also very interested in illustrated journals.  I have always wanted to be able to draw but after taking several art classes in the past, I have found that on my own I really don’t “see”.  With my instructor right there to point out why what I’m drawing doesn’t look like what I”m seeing, I can correct myself and in this manner have done several watercolors with which I’m at least satisfied. 


IMG_3205I normally lay low on weekends in parks, but hope, spring eternal so I signed up for this class and I’m glad I did.   The class begins today at 3:00 and extends into tomorrow all day long.  Many national parks have workshops and seminars you can attend for a fee.  Usually they are sponsored by the park’s “friends” group or “association”.  Google the next National Park you are visiting and see what interesting things you might find.

I drive up to the park on Friday with my backpacking tent since taking Winnona would be nearly a 100 mile round trip and seemed unnecessary.   I pick a spot in the Big Meadows Campground near the spur trail that leads to the AT.  This turns out to be a very popular spot but more on that later.

It’s only about noon when I get set up since I’d planned to hike some of the AT before the workshop starts.  On my way I walk by these two Tent Cots.  They are the cutest things I’ve seen and all I’d need for this week-end and I wouldn’t be sleeping on the ground which is a first for me in a long time.



I start out on the spur to the AT from the campground and right away come across wildflowers including these jack-in-the-pulpit.







I am so bad at selfies especially with the canon.





The hay scented fern is in profusion on both sides of the trail.





I arrive at the junction to the AT and see the familiar cement sign post.










It isn’t long before I come to the first views west toward the rest of the Blue Ridge Range.




Big rock with a view though not a comfy sitting spot.





The Blue Ridge is definitely living up to its name today.





From this vantage point I can look to my right (north) and see the Skyline Drive curving through the gentle Appalachian Mountains.




Beautiful mountains as far as I can see.  That little spot on the ridge is the Skyline Drive from the above zoomed in picture.





Back on the AT, I’m being watched.





These may not be the Rocky mountains but the trails are often very rocky.




Another view, this time out over the Shenandoah Valley also to the west.   I stay back to allow these folks their time in this beautiful spot and then I have it all to myself.









We moved to these mountains in 1978.  Back then the “Valley” was a patchwork of farms and small or tiny towns.  It’s astounding how much it has grown and developed away from farming.





At this point I sadly have to turn around and head back to the shorter spur trail that leads to the Big Meadows Lodge.




I hike up to the lodge to see how they are doing on the new roof.  They’ve had to move the dining room into what is normally a lounge with comfortable chairs and sofas and a wall of windows to the west.


The construction is taking place just off to the left out of the view of this picture.




From here  I take the paved “trail” that connects the Lodge and the Visitor Center along the road.  But I take only a section of it because having spent so much time in this park, I know just where to cut off and pick up the “Nature Trail” which will allow me to walk through the forest to the Visitor’s Center where the workshop will begin at 3:00.




This section of the forested trail actually is an old apple orchard.   I’m sorry the trees have been left unpruned.  The apples would be wonderful fruit for me and the animals but I guess even the small amount of time to prune a dozen or so trees isn’t in the “mission” statement of the National Park.






It’s a lovely trail and crosses two bridges before heading up to the visitor center, the practical and the picturesque.






I love that the park has an electric car charging station.  They are in the forefront of concern for the environment if allowed and funded to do so by the government.


In front of the Visitor Center the CCC Boy stands.  He’s a regular statue in every park in which the Civilian Conservation Corps was largely responsible for much of the infrastructure.



I just take a peek inside.  But I’ll come back.  I do see one of the original posters from the early days of the 30’s and 40’s in the park.  I really love them and have looked for them in all the National Parks we have visited.


And then it’s 3:00.  We get checked in by our leaders  Betty Gatewood and Rhonda Roebuck.  We get a royal ranger welcome to the park and the workshop begins.   But that’s for my next post.



  1. Beautiful views in the Shenandoah. I have been thinking a lot about the Smoky Mountains lately, and those two parks are the best in the east in my opinion. And I have to say, "No, no, no pruning of apple trees or anything else on the trails." Let those old apple trees be a reminder of the people whose farms were confiscated to create this park.

  2. We really need to communicate a little better...we couldn't have missed each other by much at Big Meadows;o(( I am surprised you couldn't see Baby from your beautiful spot looking over the Shenandoah Valley to the west;o)) Wasn't it a spectacular Day!! See you soon...

  3. Sounds like a fun workshop. Love those tent cots! Smart idea! You certainly has a beautiful hike. Glad you had such expansive views:)

  4. What fun it will be for your daughter and granddaughter to read your blog together years from now. Blog for them. Blog for yourself so when your traveling days are over, you and David can look back and remember, together. How lucky you are. That's where the value of blogging is, not so much in comments.

    1. Didn't mean this to sound as negative as it did when I re-read it. I've camped in Shenandoah and it is a beautiful part of the country. I'm going to have to rely on blogs like yours to travel from now on. Your pictures and descriptions really take your readers to where you are and how you feel. Regards to David.

  5. I tried watercolor painting and got more paint on me than the canvas. ;c)

    Looking at your pictures made me a little homesick for our (sold) Virginia home. Spent many happy days up in the Skyline Drive and the Valley.

  6. Gorgeous views of the Shenandoah. One of the photobloggers I follow often goes up into the park.

  7. What a beautiful spot. Makes me feel at home. Thank you!

  8. We have spent a little time in the Blue Ridge Mountains but not much so I am enjoying your wonderful hike and beautiful pictures. One day I would love to do a through hike of the AT but not sure that will ever really happen.


  9. I too journaled most of my writing age life. I've stopped it since doing the blog on the road, but I'm thinking about starting again. I look forward to hearing about your workshop. Those tent beds are so cool! Love the trail pics and seeing the stunning views of the mountains.

  10. Oh, I would so love that workshop!! I've taken some nature journaling workshops in the past, and they always inspire me. I also kept a journal for many years, but like Jodee said, I stopped journaling when I started our travel blog four years ago. But I picked up my watercolors and brushes when we were home in Ashland, thinking once again that I might want to start an illustrated travel journal. We'll see how far I get with it, haha! I hope you'll show us your paintings. :-)) Your photos of the mountains and flowers are beautiful. Oh, and I want one of those tent beds, too!

  11. It looks so beautiful there. Thanks for the photos.

  12. Ah Shenandoah...so beautiful and like 'home'. What cute tents!!! :)

  13. Love attending workshops in our parks. Journaling was such a big part of my life before the blog. Would also like one of those tent cots if I didn't have the camper along. I haven't seen Jack-in-the-Pulpits in forever. I am happily surprised to see the electric car plugins. Almost had to be put in by a friends group rather the the Park Service. We barely have room to park all the regular cars. Look forward to reading about the workshop.

  14. Those tent cots really are interesting. I'll have to check into those. Thanks for the pics. Yes, our "home" park.

  15. You make me homesick for my home state of Virginia! Love the cot tents!!

  16. Just beautiful. Thanks for all the pictures. Makes me feel like I am there. Safe travels.

  17. Just loving the spring wildflowers. The California poppies are blooming like crazy here in California. Looking forward to your next post! Oh, my Mom journals as well. She has journals going back decades, it will take me a long time reading them :)

  18. Hi, I enjoyed seeing the Blue Ridge through your eyes! I feel like I have been on a hike with you! It was great to meet you, Sherry, and hope we cross paths again.

  19. I love it when you write about your hikes. Looking forward to hearing about the workshop!

  20. So happy you had this opportunity and the wisdom to take it!! Wish I could have been there too. I have had to substitute snapshots for sketching due to my seemingly endless "to do" list. Patience may be an obstacle too to my drawing more. If I ever become confined, maybe then I will sketch. Loved tour pictures & story.

  21. Hey, speaking of the nostalgic poster of the parks, I found instructions on how to make them and made one myself of the National Lakeshore up in Munising. You need Adobe Lightroom I think it was to do it, I had a free trial and since then haven't had time. Sigh. I do intend to fork out the dough for the program when I have time to create a few more the posters and hang them around the house. If you want the instructions let me know and I will forward them on to you via email. As for the tent cots, I don't know if you remember but I started out using one years ago and while it was comfortable a smaller tent is just as easy to set up and the tent cot was HEAVY and it got moldy and I had to throw it away.


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