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

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Another AT Bear Day Despite the Fools: Jones Run to Rip Rap

Saturday September 19, 2015                                                                   Most Recent Post:
Lewis Mountain Campground                                                                     Hershey RV Show – the Biggest RV Show in America???
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia




There’s always a danger doing any hike on a week-end day that the trails and the parking will be packed.  When we get to the Rip Rap Parking area here’s what we found.   But someone must have thought the last spot near the handicapped one was also handicapped and left it open just for Ruby.  Amazing given the cars parked everywhere including up and down the road.  The Rip Rap trail is popular because it has several ways to do it from short, to long, to overnight backpack.  But we won’t be doing the Rip Rap at all.   We are dropping off Ruby, going up to the Jones Run access to the AT and hiking back. 

 We’ve already done the Jones Falls trail on another loop hike which included the Doyles River Falls.  It’s a water fall lovers dream.  Well worth doing (see post here).  This time we set out headed south on the AT.




Few things are prettier than a leafy trail in the fall.   What a wonderful season of warm days and cool nights.


We haven’t gone very far down the trail and I’m looking down at the lovely leafy path when I spy bear scat at my feet.   Well this gets my hopes up. A lot of seeds in there.  How do those bears put on so much weight eating berries that are mostly seed?





Then I spy what I think is a turkey feather. This reminds me of how surprised I am that we have seen no turkeys in all the months we have been in the park.  I think this is very unusual since I know they must be on these mountains and in these woods.   You can see how my mind just flits from one thing to another as I walk along. 



And THEN I spot a black thing ahead on the trail.  I stop dead, pull up my camera and start shooting as I hear a voice from the other direction yelling “Bear in the trail”.   Well DUH!   Why don’t you just stop, shut up and enjoy him?




But no these two just keep on walking in the direction of the poor bear who now sees us in front at a distance and the other two foolish ones closing in from the year shouting “HEY BEAR”.  



I get a few nice pictures just before he takes off into the woods.  Needless to say I’m not very pleased with the attitude of the AT hikers who don’t have a minute to let the bear decide what he wants to do.   You can see them clearly in the picture above.




Really wish I could have just stood on the trail and watched to see what he would do all on his own without any interference from the anthropocentric species pushing him out of the way in their hurry.  These were not thru hikers, just day trippers.  What IS your hurry?  Grrrrrrrrrrrrr




 That was the excitement for the day so if you want to quit reading now I’ll understand but it is a lovely 6 mile walk on the trail.  UP and down, UP and down, UP and down over 3 knobs and a peak with interesting people and stops.

We picked the AT for today as we always do for week-end days since usually there have been fewer people hiking it.  But today there were an unusual number.  We’ve found that since Labor Day, the numbers of people at the trailheads and on the trails has not decreased at all.  In fact we see more people on this section of the AT today than on any other one we’ve done.  

One of them is this rock scrambling dog that we met just before reaching Black Rock Summit which we have previously climbed (Black Rock Post Link).





The AT passes around the north, west and south sides of the summit and the views are lovely today.   We’ve already done the scramble so we just hike on stopping for these pictures.




















Much of the AT is up, down, repeat on a narrow path through green tunnels.  The fall wildflowers of the day are


Clasping Heart-Leaved Aster (aka Wavy Leaf Aster)


One of the 7 species of Goldenrod found in the park. 
The pollen of goldenrod is too heavy to cause allergies. 
It’s ragweed that is the villain.



White Snakeroot.  Very toxic. 
When cows eat it their milk is contaminated. 
Abraham Lincoln’s mother died from drinking tainted milk



Common Mullein. So Soft. 




Color is just beginning on the hillsides although up close we can see many red, yellow and orange leaves.




Not sure we have visited every PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) hut so far along our hikes but I think so.  In that spirit, we walk the steep 2/10th of a mile down to visit the Black Rocks Hut where we find 3 section hikers on their way to Harper’s Ferry from Springer have just come in for the day. 






I chat with them for a while about their plan to finish next year starting from Harper’s Ferry and going to Katahdin.  They tell me they are from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida. 

I check out the trail log and we leave them to get set up before the later comers arrive.  We see at least 6 of those further on the trail.  It will be a cozy night here. 

Sorry about cutting off the right hand side of the page for those of you who, like me, enjoy reading the log entries.  Looks like one thru hikers parents are doing the trail too.    One entry talks about over 25 miles in a day and another about over 30.   WOW is all I can say.  10 miles a day is more than enough for me.  But of course I don’t have their conditioning, still………….







More up IMG_6060

more rocky trail



one of 4 road crossings today


more lovely CCC rock walls along the drive and overlooks


More fellow hikers


Wonder what they’d do if they saw a bear?





We’ve seen bear scat all along the trail with and without berries.  Based on the amounts, we keep hoping we’ll see another bear. 



Sadly there are no big hemlocks or chestnuts to hug but we do find some big oaks.  Most of them are Northern Red Oaks and I am wondering where all the white oaks are since I have seen very few of them in the park which is unusual for this habitat.  And then I find one.  It’s my favorite tree and I love giving it a big hug.


White Oak                                                            Red Oak



White Oak Leaf                                                 Red Oak Leaf

white oak leaf

Red oak leaf



We aren’t too far from the end of the hike when we come upon this ground bee nest notice.  I wonder how the person noticed them without danger in putting the note up. 




And there’s Ruby waiting for us in the not quite so full parking lot.  We’ve done 6.59 miles and 16,750 steps today.  Another good bear day.  I have only one hike remaining to complete all 101 miles of the AT through Shenandoah National Park.  It’s been a good way to spend our confined summer.



  1. Confined Summer!
    You guys are doing what most hikers dream of doing someday. I am sure many readers are envious of your time on the AT. Great pics.

  2. Can't believe how many bears you've seen this summer!

  3. I don't think we've ever done this hike. Looks like a good one and I think we'll try it soon.

  4. You may have been confined to one area this summer, but you certainly have done a thorough job of the trails in Shenandoah. Will you be heading to Florida for the winter?

  5. Confession - I have not personally done all the AT miles in the park as Sherry has, but I have done probably 75 or so and am very pleased at that. I am however very pleased not only that you, Sherry, have done this, but that you can and do hike with the energy and gusto of a much younger person - especially on the uphill stretches. That really makes me smile. I have loved every minute of Shenandoah and will remember it with so much greater appreciation because of the time we were able to take here. Thanks to you again for the organization and planning to make it happen!

  6. Amazing shots from the high ground. The last shot of the bear is my favourite.

  7. You've been able to take the time to really enoy the trails. Thru hikers have to push on, especially the ones who want to make it from GA to ME in one go. In most cases I liked to set up my tent near a shelter, but those mouse-infested shelters weren't my choice, except in heavy rain.

  8. Cute bear and yes why couldn't the people shut up and enjoy watching said bear? Being around lots of poop regularly, I'm guessing that the bear ate something else and not berries with the last one.... xxxooo

  9. WOW, that bear encounter was cool...just a shame not everyone can just give nature a chance:o(( You still got some wonderful photos. Also, it appears to me that there just can't be a bad section of the AT. Every hike you have done has been wonderful. Your first picture just makes me want to shuffle my feet through those leave;o))

  10. I can attest to ragweed being the culprit for allergies. As soon as we drove into PA a couple weeks ago, I started sneezing :) Even sneezing in KY now. Love your bear & scat pictures. Too bad the other hikers had to scare him off.

  11. What a great day! That was a beautiful bear. So glad it didn't get spooked and charge you. You got some nice photos:) Interesting about the White Snakeroot. Thanks for sharing! Now I know the difference between white and red oak!! What a learning experience today:)

  12. Despite the inconsiderate/dumb thru hikers, you got a great bear shot. It would have been nice if you could have watched it for awhile. We noticed that on the very first day of fall, the leaves started to fall, right on schedule!

  13. I don't know how people can be so stupid and uncaring, spooking the bear in its own habitat. Sheesh! You did get some great pictures of the poor bear, though.

  14. I hate....irresponsible hikers and campers. Boy I wouldn't recommend doing that out west! The bears are not quite as easily chases off. They certainly could have received more than they bargained for! I think it is interesting to find scat too. It is interesting to see the differences. Yes, Fall is on the way. I feel a great walk in the leaves rustling them as I go.

  15. Such a gorgeous hike -- love all of the botanical information you provide along the way. And your photo of the bear is wonderful -- too bad you had to encounter people who were not able to appreciate the gift of seeing a bear on the trail. The world would be a better place if everyone shared the same reverence of nature that you two do.

  16. Another beautiful hike, and another lovely bear. Bummer the day hikers ruined the encounter. Love the rock scrambling dog :-) Wonder if there are large numbers there to see the Fall colors? I'm sure few of them enjoyed the small flowers and huggable trees like you did. Interesting that some hike with pen and paper on them.....nice of them to warn fellow hikers :-)

  17. Oh so nice to get away from the crowds which I can identify with after my recent park visits. I like the leafy trails and would love to stop to watch a bear, but what were those idiots thinking. A visitor from AT area told me today she'd read in local news that the AT is being over run by people. I am impressed with your 101 AT miles.

  18. Pretty amazing Sherry and wonderful guide for anyone wanting to hike all these trails. I'm pretty amazed at my brother too for doing as many miles as he has given what he is dealing with.

  19. Great bear day despite the rushing through day hikers!! Beautiful fall hike. Lovely views. Love the info on the flowers. Impressive number of miles and steps. Some of those through hikers really fly...or do it more than once and try to beat their previous times...the number of miles a day is staggering....to me 7 is a very good day!!

  20. I'm with you, ten miles a day is more than enough. The people who do more than that are just rushing through and it doesn't seem like it would be as enjoyable. Not to mention the blisters and other injuries!


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