Monday, July 23, 2007


Good Medicine.

That's how our shuttle driver, Rodney describes hiking.

Cute Husband and I were off for some good medicine and our first overnight of the season.

28 miles in the Shenandoah Valley.

I don't think we could have picked a better weekend for a hike in July in VA. Our longest day of hiking with 17 miles. Camp at the Pinefield Shelter with 11 miles to follow on Sunday.

This meant pedal to the metal. Boot to the mountain.

The only problem is that there are birds. And, always so much to see, to hear, to inspect.... No way could you just cruise right by this guy. Turk's-cap Lily (Lilium superbum).

Or this beauty. Jewelweed.

Jewelweed is also called Touch-me-not because its seed pods explode when touched. Jewelweed is used as home remedy to treat poison ivy rashes.

There is a saying that goes "Wherever poison ivy is found, Jewelweed grows close by". I don't know. We've seen a ton of poison ivy, but not enough Jewelweed.
The yellow species of Jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) is common at higher elevations.

Higher elevations.
That makes sense. It felt like we hiked up most of the time. Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot. Tiger Swallowtail on the last blooms of Milkweed.

Monarch on Milkweed leaves. A beautiful Bald Faced hornet nest. The Bald Faced Hornet is actually a larger yellow jacket, and not a true hornet.
Ok, enough with the flowers.....

We also saw lots of scat!

If poop pictures gross you out, please stop here.

I happen to find it quite fascinating and we found several varieties right in the middle of the trail.

Bear scat. Scat from a pretty large bear.

According to this website, it may be important "to identify scat of bears that have been feeding on meat so that you can use this as a sign to leave the area, or at least to be very vigilant. When bears are feeding on meat, the scat is usually black and runny and there may be some hair visible."

We didn't see any hair.

A raccoon most likely left this berry filled scat on the side of the trail. Droppings are often left in raccoon restrooms which the raccoon will repeatedly visit and may be a way of staking out a territory.

I thought this was some sort of owl pellet. Owls swallow their prey whole and then regurgitate the indigestible parts such as fur or bones. I'm not quite sure, though... so any help would be appreciated.

And then we had lunch.

Trader Joe Wraps. The lunch of hiking champions. TJ Wraps eaten while digesting this view.

Cute Husband uses an AT map to verify that Highttop Mountain is appropriately named. I preferred to call it $%%^$%# mountain. Look! No urban sprawl in sight!

Hiking in the Shenandoah affords many beautiful overlooks. This view was also accessible by a short hike up a "blue" blaze and was crowded with day hikers and families.

As we trudged by a family, a girl yelled at the top of her lungs--- BACKPACKERS!!!! Talk about making us feel like superstars!

Yes, that's us... BACKPACKERS... sleeping on the ground...carrying all our needs on our back....making water potable.... living off the land..... for days and days.... (ok, for two days).

We met a section hiker with the trail name Rain Man from Tennessee. Rain Man was hiking the park with his daughter who had thru-hiked several years before, but chose to water blaze around the park. Meaning she canoed, rather than hiked through it.

We slept by the stream at the Pine Hut Shelter. A herd of deer were our alarm clock.

Honestly, Cute Husband had to chase them away so we could get out of the tent without being trampled.

I fought off 10 bears to provide a wholesome breakfast for Warren.

Well, I would have fought off 10 (teddy) bears if they had showed up.

We did see a beer later on Hightop Mountain (AKA $$%^%^ Mountain). He was traveling above us as the trail circled the mountain. It was our best look at a beer to date. He was traveling North as we traveled South and he wasn't the least bit frightened.

He stopped to stare at us. We stopped to stare at him.
We moved on before he could whip out his camera and take a picture of us.

Get off me backpack.

Look! Not a Walmart in sight.

Warren, King of the Mountain.

The view from Hightop was amazing and worth the aerobic workout. It was our last big climb of the hike. As sore, tired and smelly as we were, we found ourselves slowing down just to eck out the last bit of hiking goodness before we got to the car.

It will probably be weeks before we can get back on the trail.....

Oh, why must we work?


Anonymous said...

How can you people eat after seeing so much poop up there on mofo mountain?

Anonymous said...

Hi. Checked out your pix of bear scat as my sis and I took several day hikes on Buffalo Mt.near Johnson City TN this week (end of April). Saw scat on White Rock Trail and Cascade Trail, wondered about size of bears, nearness of bear, diet of bear... Didn't smell or see any bear. I hiked 1/2 AT 1980, Amicalola Falls to Harpers' Ferry, flip-flopped to Springer Maine, etc. What an adventure. Only saw one bear, that in Maine. You have some great pix here, nice blog. (crafter at