Today we spent some time exploring the mountains of Virginia at Shenandoah National Park. I had read about the park on another blog and was excited to go explore the area. In a serendipitous turn of events, it was also National Trails Day. We spent quite a bit of time with volunteers and rangers at the Byrd Visitors Center. The kiddos identified scat and prints from a variety of animals indigenous to the area. Benton cut a log with a bit of help from his mama and a ranger, which he then decorated. We also learned about trail safety and first aid.Dark Hollow Falls. The path followed along a stream at the beginning, and we met it with a whole lot of running and skipping. Fellow hikers along the trail stumbled upon a bear. It was long gone by the time we arrived, although we did see one on the drive out.
|Aine wanted a picture all by herself|
The vegetation was so green along the path. Water could be seen on the rocks. Moss required quite a bit of inspection from our crew. It isn't a common sight in Arizona that is for sure. Eamon schooled everyone on many of the fungi and lichens. He and Aine also made sure we steered clear of the mountain laurel as they had learned it is poisonous.
We continued past the upper falls for another quarter mile to the metal bridge below for a view from the bottom. Here we floated leaves and sticks in the currents watching their passage under the bridge. A fellow hiker shared his slingshot with us showing Aine and Benton how to hold it and shoot (Eamon declined the lesson. He preferred to watch intently). Another gentleman offered to take a photo of us ( a rare treat to have the five of us together in one photo).
The trip back was full of more plant identification and leaf or stick gathering. Only a few mental games had to be played when a certain four year old wanted to be carried. It is amazing what a game of meerkat and hyena can do to motivate little legs. Once back to Big Meadow, we spotted a few deer. Benton and I found a mama and her fawn, but the older kiddos and Dave missed it. Several more were found including two very close to us (no photos, of course).
After the deer sightings, we decided to head home with plans to visit again before our time in the east ends. We drove home along Skyline Drive with spectacular evening views. We stopped briefly for a black bear ambling in the woods beside the road. Aine was thrilled with all the animal sightings. I think we all were thrilled to be spending some time in nature.