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

Henry David Thoreau

A Visit from a Friend I’ve Never Met

Monday August 31 and Tuesday September 1, 2015                                               Most Recent Post:
Big Meadows Campground                                                                    
Carrie and Matthew Come to Visit
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia





Today is moving day again.  A friend I met through our  blogs is coming to visit for a few days and is staying at the Big Meadows lodge so we are moving up to Big Meadows Campground to be nearer to her.  Sharon has had a very rough year this year.  Her father died in February and in March her husband of 37 years lost a valiant 18 month battle to cancer.  To lose the two most important men in your life within a month of each other seems beyond sad to me.

It was the cancer connection that put us together.  David emailed Bill to encourage him through his treatments.  Sharon and I talked about caregiver concerns.

When she emailed to say she thought she might be ready to step back out into the world and would like to go hiking with us I was very happy.  We have never met.  David and I had several times hoped to stop and see them in their home in Knoxville and meet both Sharon and Bill.  But each time something got in the way, one year it was the opportunity to have solar put on the rig within a specific time frame which meant a beat feet trip from Florida.  Another was David’s cancer treatments meaning we had to move from one cancer center to another in less than a week.  No time to stop for anything.

We pack up Winnona and move her 7 miles north into our favorite spot for solar at Big Meadows, site C-137.   There’s a hay field in our yard when we arrive but in short order the mowers are buzzing around.







When I come out in the morning we again have back yard visitors. 





I drive up to the lodge to pick up Sharon for the trip to the Hazel Falls trail head.  When we were making plans for her visit, I asked how far she’d like to hike.  She answered that it had been months since she’d been able to go hiking so perhaps nothing more than 5 miles.   This is a short hike to Sharon who is an avid hiker and thinks nothing of doing 13 miles when she’s back in the groove.

David has been on the the hike I’ve chosen very recently and thinks perhaps he will skip the steep up hill section coming back. So it will be just Sharon and I today.

I have done this hike very recently and loved it and want to go back.  So off we go.   The sun is shining brightly on the Hazel Mountain Road sign as we enter the dark and deep woods.  The sunshine will no doubt give us beautiful dappled paths.


I’m suspicious of bears when I see, in the trail, these freshly broken branches with acorn caps but the acorns are gone.  I push them off to the side.  Sharon is not quite as anxious as I am to encounter bears.  She even wears a bear bell but in deference to me she has it fastened so it doesn’t ring.  Isn’t she thoughtful?





Beautiful shelf mushrooms along our way







We walk through the row of phlox which isn’t as full as it was just less than two weeks ago when David and I hiked this trail. Still Sharon looks happy to be among the flowers.  She matches their purple color.

I don’t take as many photographs this time as my first hike through here.  I’m busy enjoying the day, the company and the quiet.  If you’d like to see more of this trail, you can see my first post from August 13th here.




As we thought, the trail is beautifully dappled in sunlight.  My camera has a difficult time with dappling but it is wonderful to experience in person.




It’s a fairly easy trail although as usual down down which makes us at least think a tad about the up up later.   We reach the post indicating the really difficult 2/10th of a mile is to the right.



There are steps at first but it gets steeper and more precarious as we go.







Sharon insists I go first.  To see all the snakes she says.  But she forgets that my eyesight isn’t what it should be.




With patience, we make it down to the quiet hidden spot that I really do love.  No snakes seen.  No bears seen.






I do manage, with my 10 second camera timer, to get a fairly decent picture of us at the main falls.  Sharon is in the sun, I’m in the shade but it will do.




I have a couple of what I think are red spotted purple butterflies very interested in me and my gear.  I can only think that for some reason they are attracted to blue.  They wander all around all over.  Not sure what they are looking for as I watch them running their proboscises all over everything but it is fun taking pictures of them.











We have our lunch here and just enjoy the wonderful sights and sounds of this favorite place of mine.  It gives me great pleasure to share it with Sharon. 



Too soon, it is time to head back.



This will be the hard part especially for Sharon who has rheumatoid arthritis, most severely in her wrists and feet.  I wasn’t aware of this when I chose this hike and probably would not have chosen it had I been.  But she repeatedly tells me that she’s happy that I did.

She’s made me promise not to take any pictures from behind her so I can’t show how well she did the climb out.  She says she is out of shape in more ways than one.  But it’s not evident to me.   This is one tricky steep climb out.  I do think she’s pretty happy when she reaches the flat trail again.  Of course that’s before it too becomes up and up, though not quite so steeply. 




I find one curious thing on the way up and have no idea what it is.  It feels like a grape but has unusual markings on the outside and very different insides.  .   Can any of you naturalists identify it for me?




More  things at my feet attract my attention on the way back.  Plus the butterflies are at the phlox now.







I am very surprised when my camera turns these purple flowers blue in my pictures.  They look lovely in blue  but that isn’t the color I am seeing in real time.  So when I prepare this post,  I use MS Picture manager to turn the last two back to the color they actually were.  If Erin is out there, or any other wonderful camera person like perhaps Al, can you tell me why this happens? 

They were all purple.  But my camera took them as blue like the first picture.






Sharon isn’t too fond of bears, snakes or millipedes either but we do watch a bit as these two seem to be having a wonderful time with each other on a log next to some lovely orange shelf mushroom.    I’ll leave it to you to determine what’s going on here.




We arrive back at the car having hiked 5.52 miles.  It’s a bit more than Sharon wanted but she seems to have done wonderfully and had a good time.  Last time I did this hike you will recall that it ended up being 3 miles longer than that due to my attempt to find the White Rocks.  We didn’t make that mistake today.


  1. Nature and the great outdoors do have a good effect on emotional wounds, I've found. A lovely day for a hike.

  2. Lovely that you found each other and the healing of nature to bring a new friendship into your life.

  3. Beautiful hike, especially those butterflies...I think it is wonderful that Sharon reached out and you welcomed her so warmly. I like that sun/shade picture of you both.

  4. When you love nature, it is especially wonderful to be able to share it with others that feel that way too. So glad you were able to take Sharon to a place you find so special!!! Beautiful day and photos.

  5. Those shelf mushrooms are pretty - as are the butterflies and flowers. I think the one enamored with you and your gear must be bringing good luck to both of you on this path... So nice that you had some time together in person.

  6. I'm new to reading your blogs and enjoy them very much. I was an intense backpacker for 22 years (~350 mi/yr) and went many places like those you are telling a out. Suddenly, one month i had to stop without any warning I was about to loose my passionate activity. I was diagnosed with Intersticial Lung Disease. My backpacking days, particularly to the jigh jps, was over.

    I have a complaint, already. Can you please fix an annoying bug in your blog? I subscribe by email. When I open the email, it shows the blog but runs all the way to the end at the last comment. I have to run it all the way back to the too. With your long posts, which Imlike, and the. any comments, this is a. other. Yous is the only blog that does this for me. Can you please ask someone to reverse the post's landing from end to start for that day? Thank you.

  7. I have had the same problem as Jerry Lewis.......it comes to my inbox at the end of the last comment too and I have to run it all the way up to the top. Thought it was maybe just me, but no other blog has this happening when coming to my inbox. But love your blog so much that I hate to mention it. One of the few blogs I read all the way through! Thanks.

  8. More friends to spend time with....you are becoming a celebrity. Such fun! Sure wish that we had time to do some hiking together. I love seeing the world through your eyes...so I know I would enjoy a guided tour! Keep on, keeping on my friend!

  9. what an interesting berry... wished you would have also taken pictures of the vegetation, reminds a bit of a gooseberry but it isn't... hope you find out!

  10. A very nice hike to take a new friend on!

  11. How nice that you finally had a chance to meet up.

  12. Lovely pictures of you both and all the treasures of the trek!

  13. After my falls on the New York Appalachian Trail rocks, the sight of yours makes me a little nervous. I know the next time I hike anywhere and there is a rock in my way I'm going to be very anxious.

  14. What fun you had! Those fungi and mushrooms make me wonder what colors they would dye my natural fibers. That is the fun part of those hikes. Dreaming.

  15. What a nice day for you and Sharon. I am sure she really enjoyed your company and didn't mind the longer hike:) Love the blue butterfly!!

  16. Delightful to share this special place and hike with a new friend. The butterflies are fabulous.

  17. So wonderful that you connected with a new friend in such a special way. As you well know, there's nothing more healing than being in nature.

  18. You know you have a good hiking partner when you enjoy the quiet as well as the company. Love the butterflies on your gear, I agree they were blessing you with a good day. Wonder what came first, the mushroom or the little stick through it, great shot! You both look so happy by the water :-))))

  19. The colour issue probably has to do with what light setting your camera is on. I don't know what you have but most with have a setting for shade, cloud, sun, floeescent, etc. Just scroll through settings and it should show image on LCD. When you find the one that matches what you are actually seeing just set it to that. Most of my outdoor shots are set to shade on my DSLR but to daylight on my iPhone app.

    I was thinking about Sharon and her snake concerns just yesterday and wondering how long until it's cool enough that they won't be out anymore!

  20. Sorry about the spelling I am bouncing around in the back of the truck on the interstate!

  21. Hiking with a new friend that share a common interest and undergoing similar situation is quite healing. Added to that are the small pleasures that nature provided. I hope Sharon had a great day as you did.
    Sherry thanks for the Flowbee response, I have never seen one like that before.
    Maybe those butterflies smelled something from your bag.


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