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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hiking, Part 32

Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

We heard that in the Shenandoah the leaves were near or at peak, so with a day off from work, we headed west.  Usually for leaf enjoyment, all we have to do is drive down Skyline Drive.  This time, we decided to explore one of the plethora of hiking trails that criss-cross this magnificent National Park.

After entering the park at the north end south of Front Royal, we drove to the first visitors center at Dickey Ridge.  After consulting the map, we decided to do two trails that are normally (sort of) connected.  The first one was the Fox Hollow Trail. This is a short 1.4-miler that drops down the slope of the ridge to the site of the farm of one Thomas Fox. His family farmed this 450 acres for over 100 years before being displaced by the establishment of the Park in 1935.  The family cemetery, one of 100 such in the park, is at the lower end of this loop trail.  The trail itself starts across the road from the visitors center and starts downhill from its intersect with the Dickey Ridge Trail.  The leaves are nice, predominantly yellow, though you can see that the winds have been at work here, as there are noticeably bare branches and the ground is covered with a fresh layer.

After a fairly straight trek, the trail takes a sharp bend to the right and you find yourself at the cemetery.

 That small black metal cross on the left signifies a Confederate Civil War veteran.

Nearby, the source of the spring that provided their water has been boxed in by the Park Service.

After looping around and making the climb back to Skyline Drive, we crossed the road and went down about a half-mile to pick up the Dickey Ridge Trail.  This is a longer loop that starts on a fire service road.  About a hundred yards in, we saw the trail fork off to the right.  It was a steady uphill slog, not terribly steep, but relentless.  We decided to follow this trail as far is the overlook, which was promised to be dramatic.  As we got closer, the trail flattened out and became a pleasure to walk.

The overlook kinda snuck up on us as we came out of the trees.  And as promised, it was dramatic.

We stayed for a few minutes, drinking in the view.  Down in the valley, we could see the forests turning their signature fall colors, a beautiful thing to see on a perfect fall afternoon.  We then turned and headed back, in respect to Cheryl's ailing foot.  The return was, of course, all downhill which made for an easy and enjoyable walk.  The trees were spectacular.

We returned to the parking area, and drove back out onto Skyline Drive, just enjoying the magnificence of autumn in the Shenandoah.

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