Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 3: Troy, NY to Shenandoah NP, VA

Monday, April 20
Troy NY to Shenandoah NP VA
Odometer Begin: 108,059
Miles traveled: 507
Time spent traveling: 10 hrs
Other: Crossed Mason-Dixon Line at 3:18 pm
Wx: cloudy, rainy, low 50s. Thick fog on Skyline drive with some breaks and undercast.
States traveled through: NY, NJ, PA, MD, & VA

We started the drive out on the New York Thruway which has high tolls
($5.75) but I guess what you are paying for is the reliance that a full service Rest Area is on the horizon and it will have fast food, cheesy gifts, bathrooms and WiFi. We were hoping for dramatic changes in budding/leaving out progression on the trees but really didn’t see any. In the higher elevation (3,000- 3,600 ft) of the Skyline Drive, the trees are equal to what we were seeing in Southern NH.

We arrived at the north entrance to Shenandoah and Skyline drive in rain and fog.
From Shenandoah
Excited to use our Federal Recreation Pass for the first time, I was disappointed to find that the ranger station was closed for the evening when we arrived after 5 pm. There was a sign that said “Closed, please pay entrance fee when you exit. “ I wonder how well that works. Skyline Drive runs along the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the entire length of the park for105 miles. We drove up the road and at times could only see 15 feet in front of us. With the winding curves and limited visibility we both felt at home as seasoned Mt. Washington Auto Road travelers. (One of us more than the other, but I drove this time!) We decided to check out Big Meadows for camping, as it is the largest campground in the park and would have showers if we had to spend a lot of time in the cold rain. On the climb up Skyline Drive we encountered very few cars but MANY gray squirrels about the size of small cats. These either dare devil minded or semi suicidal rodents darted across the road for the first 20 miles or so. Once higher in the park we came across the White Tail Deer population, who we would spend the next two days with during our time at Shenandoah.
From Shenandoah

When we arrived at Big Meadows we actually had driven out of the clouds and were now in blinding sunlight! Since we arrived at 6:30 pm choosing and paying for our campsite was self serve. We found a walk in tent site (#40) and set up camp. We also got to use a bear box for the first time and what I predict will be the first of many times on this trip. However, we saw no trace of bears. The clouds caught up with us and the rain rolled in for dinner. The picnic table would remain wet for our entire stay thus forcing us to eat standing up for both breakfasts and dinners. The fog was so thick that it was a bit of a challenge to find the wash house to get ready for bed. We feel asleep to the sound of “Peepers” .

For more photos from Shenandoah National Park, click here.

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