Shenandoah National Park: It’s all uphill from here… 

After an early morning filled with the excitement of picking up our rental car and entering a land of dinosaurs, you might think it was about time for a rest. Nope, instead we did the exact opposite; after checking in to Skyland and getting changed, we went for a long ol’ hike.

Rose River Falls 

I had researched the hikes before hand, as personally I like to hike *to* something. It’s just that bit more enjoyable knowing that after all your toils, you’ll get to see a nice view or waterfall. What I did not think about in this case, was that the waterfalls took a bit of walking down to get to. Well I say a bit… A lot. It was an hours worth of walking before we made it to the waterfall, and that was downhill. So you can only imagine how long it took to get back up…

 

 

It wasn’t easy, but thankfully we had stock of plenty of games to keep us occupied. Well, mostly the alphabet game (picking a category and going through the alphabet with it) and 20 questions. A fair amount of singing was also thrown in for moral. Namely Madonna, if I’m honest.

The hike was mostly encompassed by woods, so not that spectacular when you look around, but it means when you finally get to the bottom and see the waterfalls you most definitely appreciate it. Also, it’s a loop trail, so there’s the fun of all the other trees on the way back up. And a little bridge.

Aside from some burning thighs and rumbling stomachs, we made it through unscathed and still in high spirits, so I was sadly unable to use the first aid kit that I enjoy carrying round with me at all times. Not that we were in too much danger; thankfully Hamilton bought the brightest colour shirt possible at Dinosaur Land and wore it on the hike, so I doubt there was any way we could be missed in times of trouble.

Though saying that, the hikes in Shenandoah are designed to make it feel like you are in the wilderness, and I must say they did a good job. The entire park in fact ever so slightly feels the same way, especially during off season, and truly, it is lovely. Yes, this does mean you aren’t spoilt for choice with restaurants, but what they have got is honestly more than enough. I mean, I could live there.

Skyland Resort 

We had ummed and arred about paying the premium for staying inside the park, but I am so glad we did. We had super easy access to the trails, and just up from our cabin, (which was the most basic option by the way, but it still had a balcony with just about the best view of the blue ridge mountains we could imagine, so we didn’t need much more) was the resort. In the main buildings, was a bar, a gift shop, a restaurant, a cafe and I believe a theatre.

Everyone working there seemed to love and hugely appreciate their surroundings, which meant they were all pretty happy. They were chatty, telling us stories and offering us advice, and just being nice really. Everyone seems to have a pretty good sense of humour too, well, judging by the Sasquatch written in the wildlife spotting book, that is.

They have free entertainment nightly in the bar (which also serves meals), and in the two nights we were there we absolutely revelled in it. After a long ass day, we settled in to watch country singer ‘David Leckie Gilmore’ perform while eating the most delicious (and gigantic) tin bucket of chicken. It was potentially the most content I have ever been.

David Leckie Gilmore is such a good performer, and a genuinely nice guy; after speaking to him at the end, he gave us one of his CDs, which we listened to nearly on repeat throughout the road trip. ‘Die Young’ was our road trip tune ngl. Thanks David! ✌

The second morning in Shenandoah we weren’t quite as perky… The actions of the last few days had slightly caught up with us, and I have a feeling we didn’t even wake up until 10! We had bought muffins the night before, so we had them as a healthy pre breakfast snack (I jest) as we slowly got ourselves up and dressed before heading off for our second hike of Shenandoah. It took about an hour to drive to this one as it was near Big Meadows, another resort within Shenandoah (that I don’t think was even open yet) but it was nice going along skyline drive, stopping at scenic way points every now and again.

Overall Run Falls 

This hike was another waterfall hike, so we had an inkling of what was coming, but I don’t think any of us wanted to admit it to ourselves; a lot of downhill, and then what felt like way more uphill. Every step down we knew what was coming. But, we soldiered on and made it down to the waterfalls and back, with only a couple of bear scares. Aka, we definitely heard the sound of bears, but the woods were so vast we couldn’t see them, which was fine with us.

The idea of seeing wild bears is really fun, until you imagine actually seeing one face to face with just a pair of bandage cutting scissors and some sticks to protect you.

Anyway, the sweet memory of last night’s meal helped pull us back up the hill and before we knew it, we were back with Big Bertha the Nissan Pathfinder, and in the bar for what I’d been getting my friends hyped for months in advance… Cloggers.

They laughed, but you know what we all LOVED IT. The cloggers were a local group called the Shenandoah Valley Cloggers and they are comprised of women, young and old, some related that do it for fun and good: they’re very charitable.

They were super friendly, and we got a shout out at one point during a participatory moment because we were “having too much fun”. It as great.
We only had two days there which was just right, but if I was American and had the opportunity I would spend every good weather weekend there. It’s only an hour or so outside of Washington DC, and it feels like a complete escape.

There is a hell of a lot more to offer during peak season too, such as ranger and wine tours, so there are lots of reasons to go check it out!
The next morning, we yet again packed up our stuff and hit the road, headed for… The Great Smoky Mountains! Where *spoiler alert* we may have encountered bears…

Abi

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@travelteatv

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