Shenandoah and New River Gorge
4/10 - 4/11/2021

During my visit to the east coast, we had wanted to visit a few of the east coast's National Parks. With a relatively short drive from Raleigh, we decided to check out America's newest National Park. New River Gorge had its own beauty, but, it also left me, Lima and Subhasree wanting for more.  So after we arrived at our Saturday night hotel, the three of us got to talking about what we could do on the way back home. After studying our maps, we settled on driving towards Shenandoah. We had also planned another stop along the way.

Shortly after leaving at around 6 in the morning, I was driving while the other two slept the remaining night away. After about 15 miles on the road the cars tire pressure light flipped on. I figured it was going to require a quick stop at the next exit, but, before even going another mile the tire gave out. Luckily, I was able to change the tire. We spent the next hour driving and trying to find anywhere we could to get a tire on a Sunday. The only place available was a Wal-Mart along the way, so we headed there at a slow 55 mph with a doughnut tire. Despite this we were only about 45 minutes from Shenandoah National park. We lucked out and would still be able to make the day work.

My first impression from the park came from the check in station. We pulled up, handed our "America the Beautiful" pass out the window and immediately got chastised. The signature on the back had rubbed off and the park lady was very unimpressed. She forced Lima to sign the pass, gave us a lecture and then finally let us pass. Not sure if it is an east coast thing, but I even checked mine once I got back home and it turns out, I've never signed it. The west coast parks must be run by laid back hippies since I have never gotten a comment. Any who....

After surviving the south for a couple of days, I felt the need to take on some kind of peak in the Area. According to the map Hawksbill mountain is short, has an easy scramble at the top and would make for a quick run up. This meant it would be easy to fit into the day. So I asked the group if it would pass for a good time. Subhasree needed to do her daily run so Lima and I dropped her off nearby and then headed for the trail.

At first the trail has an incline (from the upper lot) but it is manageable for most. It is not until around halfway through that the incline picks up. However, I will add here that the trail is east coast steep. If you are from the west coast, the entire thing is going to be a walk in the park. It is a simple trail to follow as it winds through the woods and up the hill. There are plenty of people to follow and the trail is well marked.

I hurried so I could at least complete the one hike and managed to get tot the top in about 18 minutes. All I remeber thinking is "wait that was it?". The guide made it sound tough and I thought I would sweat a little. I was more dismayed to see that the scramble at the top is actually a few knee high rocks that a toddler was crawling over.

Though I must say, it finally became apparent from the top why Shenandoah is a national park. The view was gorgeous as it laid out much of Virginia in front of me. The expanse was a sight to behold for a few minutes while I waited for Lima to arrive behind me. After she got there, we snapped a few photos and then headed back to the car to pick up Subhasree.
While I was a bit dissapointed by the difficulty, the hike up Hawksbill is worth it for the fabulous view.

Once we had picked up Subhasree, we headed over to another hike known as dark hollow falls. This is one of the most popular hikes in Shenandoah National park. If you are going to take it on, I would caution you to get to the trailhead nice and early.

The trail feels backwards in that it winds downhill first. It is easy to follow and well cut and from my point of view there is not much to say. Walk downhill until you reach the giant waterfall. Do everything you can to avoid the mass of people and enjoy the scenery.

My favorite part of the whole thing was the waterfall itself. On the right hand side there is a small scramble path that others were using to head up to the upper part fo the falls. It's a fun 50 feet if you feel like taking it on. But, if not, being down below is as refreshing.

All in all it was an eventful weekend and a great joy to experience. Though it did make me crave a good old drive through the north cascades...

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