Saturday, June 02, 2012

National Trails Day Our Way

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.
At the suggestion of one of the park service volunteers, we put off exploring the meadow for a hike along  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.


  1. Awesome!!! Love the new kicks that y'all are sportin! AND... the family picture is priceless! Love you guys!! <3

  2. what a great day! spotting a get double points for that one! and a family photo---with everyone smiling AND their eyes open! Can't do better than that!! Happy rest of the weekend!

  3. wow, it's so beautiful there, what a great family outing! love the photos heather. :)

  4. Thank you so much for including all of us in your outings as you take them. I love the pictures and LOVE the photo of your family! I have wanted one for so long and now I have one. Thank Aine for the photo of just her, it is very "smart" and she is quite the little model. Love to all.

  5. wow. it is beautiful there. and the family picture! WOOHOO!!

  6. One of my most favorite spots in the whole world! I am so glad you have such a great time. Is it going to be hard to leave all this behind? :)

  7. This looks so beautiful! We are a "National Park" family and love them all! In fact, my son is a ranger at a National Park out here in the desert Southwest. Our National Parks are truly our National Treasures! Thanks for this post!

    1. Which park? We had visited quite a few at home in AZ.

  8. Your family photo is awesome~ so nice of someone to stop and take it so you were all included. I see you are all sporting those new shoes, too! :)
    This place looks amazing! I'm sure the kids are loving seeing all the different vegetation that this area has. Little different from out west!

  9. Wonderful! Gorgeous photos. I would love to visit someday.