By Lynn R. Mitchell
“The mountains are calling and I must go.” –John Muir
Monday was one of those days to just get away to the mountains. Nothing does that more than the heights and sights and fresh air, and so Mr. Mitchell and I headed to Shenandoah National Park and the beauty of the Skyline Drive. We were a little early since most of the facilities don’t open until April 8, but we weren’t going for that. We took a picnic lunch and began the very familiar drive climbing from Rockfish Gap to Loft Mountain, stopping at every overlook and enjoying the views that never get old, and that are still wintry at those elevations. That drive never gets old.
Photos don’t show the high winds that were buffeting the car and sweeping over the mountaintops with ferocious speeds, sometimes sounding like a freight train coming through the woods. In the morning it was cold when we stepped out at various places but the temps warmed up nicely in the afternoon.
The winter woods allow views in all directions that are unseen during warmer months when the trees are leafed out, and makes it possible to see the forest floor, rock outcroppings, and interesting topography that is hidden in summer.
By mid-afternoon the sunny skies began clouding over as rain moved toward the Shenandoah Valley and surrounding mountains. Looking out over Waynesboro, I posted this pic to my Facebook page with the caption, “There’s a storm across the valley.” A friend filled in the next line of the John Denver classic, “Back Home Again,” and we went back and forth until the first verse was finished. Good to know I’m not the only John Denver fan out there.
There were few people in the park and most cars had out-of-state license plates with every state on the East Coast represented along with Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, and Kentucky. All were traveling north on the Drive.
We stopped at Beagle Gap before leaving, wandering the fields, taking pics, and saying hello to a lady hiker who was walking north on the Appalachian Trail. The winds were beginning to cool under cloudy skies — sweaters were welcomed. As we ended our meandering, returning to Rockfish Gap and retracing our tracks west toward Staunton, the busy world was back with vehicles and interstate and businesses but the serenity of the mountains wasn’t left behind. Almost heaven….
Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
April 4, 2016