Sunday, July 1, 2012

Oh, Shennandoah... (part 2)

You can read Part 1 here.

Camping Day 3  
Hike #2, Mom stays in campground, Fire on the Mountain
Since I was unable to hike (or even walk, really) I stayed back in camp and read.  I am quite enjoying ‘Game of Thrones’.  The following adventures are second hand accounts pieced together from photos and descriptions from everybody else.

First of all, the men decided to ignore the other mom (whose trail info came straight from the Ranger) and were certain that their way was going to be a much shorter route to the waterfall and swimming hole at Rose River Falls.  

According to the Ranger (and the map) this hike was approximately 2 miles, but moderate.  I have no way of knowing if the shortcut was shorter or not, but by all accounts (and typical of shortcuts in general), it was a very challenging climb, both down and back up.
I don't think this is the route on the map.
The dog was able to go on this hike.  The first thing he did upon arrival at the swimming hole was to jump in.  The water was cold.  The very next thing he did was to frantically try to scramble out!  All the hikers except one went for a very refreshing swim. Cheerio attempted to save them all.


I love you, boy. I'm glad you're safe!

That evening we all showered and then drove for an hour to go to town.  We had previously decided that this would be the day we had dinner ‘out’.  We headed north on Skyline Drive.  Our destination was the town of Luray, VA.  Soon after we started driving, we saw the smoke of wildfires burning on the mountain.  On the way back, you could see the orange glow from the flames. 

Camping Day 4
Luray Caverns, more reading, Stormy Weather
The next day the group decided that due to the extreme temperatures forecast (100+), it would be best to go back into Luray and visit Luray Caverns.  Guess who stayed in camp?  Broken toe and Cheerio.  It was nice and cool in the caverns.  They enjoyed the views and the coolness.

It was HOT back at camp.  The dog was good company, though.  We followed the shade all day long, and I finished book one of ‘Game of Thrones’.  I recommend it.

Up at the Ranger station, they had a little board where they posted the weather forecast, and on the first day while talking to the ranger about hiking I happened to glance at the board, so during dinner, I was not surprised to see some lightning. When I saw the 2nd flash, the other mom and I decided that we needed to clean up, especially since the next day was departure day and we wanted to do some pre-packing anyway.  Well, it’s a good thing we did, because that storm came up fast! Even though the sky was getting dark because it was late in the day, you could see the dark black clouds. The flashes of lightning got closer and closer together.  Then came the rumble of thunder.  The most frightening sound though, was the sound like a train getting closer. There was a hum that just got louder and more intense as the seconds ticked by.  We all scrambled and managed to get all the food things put away and all the camp chairs packed up.  We put everything we could into the cars. Just. In. Time.

The wind was intense. Think gale/hurricane force winds! (hurricane in a tent) The 3 boys were having a fantastic time.  I was afraid that my tent was going to be ripped to shreds.  When the wind blew out all 4 walls of the tent at the same time I questioned the advisability of having a tall tent you could stand up in. The small, short, ground-hugging tent the boys were in suddenly looked much more appealing.

There were sounds of frantic, screaming people from many nearby campsites.  It wasn’t possible to hear anybody’s words, just screaming. There was a group of 20-somethings in the campsite next to us who were completely unprepared for any sort of inclement weather. Their tents blew away and they spent the night in their cars.

Camping Day 5
Storm aftermath and Homeward Bound
The following morning found everybody safe.  Uncle Paul came around and checked on all the campers.  He told us that the power was out in the camp store and that the South entrance of the park was closed due to downed trees.  He didn’t know about what was going on to the North.  The storm put out the camp fire so there was no heating up water for coffee or tea.  The tents were all wet and needed to dry up. During our tear down and packing up we learned that the resort lodge has their own generator and the restaurant was open. We decided to eat breakfast there. This is another place I recommend.

After we had left the park, we turned on the car radio and learned that 9 people (7/1/12 update: 14) had died in this storm and 3 million people were without power.  We survived it at the top of the mountain in nylon tents.What is it with me, storms and tents?

We decided to AVOID DC on the way home and promptly got mired in a horrific traffic jam in WV.  Thanks to Garmin, I threw caution to the wind, got off I-81, and took a bunch of back roads through some beautiful WV countryside. After we got back on I-81 there was traffic, but it moved at something near the speed limit.

This trip was definitely more fun for some of us than for others. I am happy to be home and showered.  I also can’t wait for my toe to heal so that I can walk properly again. I am looking ahead to our next camping adventure. This one will be more rustic. One of the boys and I don’t want to be able to see other campers or cars.  There is talk of a hike-in camping trip.