Updated: Jun 15, 2022
Monday, 25 April 2022, VA/WV
Ever have a day that seemed just a bit off? Like if you watch a movie where the lips aren't synched to the dialogue? It never quite clicks like you'd hope.
I thoroughly enjoyed the night in the cabin, waking up ready to tackle the day. I'd initially planned to do the 3.3 mile round trip hike to Doyle River Falls, but since I'd forgotten to get extra water during yesterday's hassles, I had run out - and hiking with no water ran against my good judgement. Instead, I would head north to the Visitor Center to get watered up.
I appreciated that decision when I came to the first overlook. To the east, an ocean of clouds filled the valley, with tendrils washing up on the shores of Shenandoah's slopes.
Each new overlook I passed offered a new perspective. I had fortunate timing; by 10:00 the clouds had vanished.
At this early hour - 8:30 or so - the wildlife was out. I had to stop at one point to wait for the trio of deer to get off the road. A few minutes later, I surprised a herd of morning bicyclists; indeed, I saw far more bicyclists than cars on my entire Monday morning drive south, on Skyline drive and Blue Ridge Parkway.
At the Visitor Center, I picked up food and water, and asked the rangers for a recommended hike - maybe to remnants of the families removed when the park was established? "You could walk down the fire road to the old mission church. You can park on the right side of Skyline Drive just past milepost 59, across from the fire road. But watch close when you get there, because it's not well marked."
'Not well-marked' was an understatement. I found the fire road, complete with 'No Parking' signs, but on the right side of the road, the narrow should shoulder dropped off - no parking area visible anywhere near mile 59.
I gave up on that hike, and started heading south. Soon Ivy Creek overlook beckoned, and I pulled over to sample a section of the Appalachian Trail, following its white blazes.
On my way back to the car, I slowed my pace, clicking into Forest Bathing mode - noticing fire-blackened trees, smelling the fresh air, hearing my footfalls.
After leaving the park, I continued south on the Blue Ridge Parkway for an hour-plus, enjoying the views of the forested hills.
Finally I had to turn west, hopping on the interstate for a three-hour drive into West Virginia. My goal for the afternoon: to see Bluestone National Scenic River, a new park on my list.
It's not an easy park to reach. One method, taking a cable tram down from Pipestone Resort, doesn't open until Memorial Day. I opted for method 2, driving to the campgrounds at Bluestone State Park, parking, then walking into the Buestone NSR. Foiled again - flood damage had closed the road to the campgrounds. I didn't have time to hike three or four miles to reach the NSR, so gave up crossing this park off my to-do list. There was one more access point, a long drive on a dicey gravel road, but instead I headed 'home' to my AirBNB for the night, to get ready for tomorrow's adventure.