Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Shenandoah National Park, Day Three: Upper Whiteoak Falls and Hawksbill

This is Day Three of a travel series to Shenandoah National Park.  If you'd like to start at the beginning, go HERE.  Day Two is HERE.

Every succeeding day at Shenandoah National Park got better than the day before.  The weather warmed up, melting all the snow and each trail was better than the previous one.  We definitely did the trails in the right order, saving the best for last, although we didn't plan it that way.

Whiteoak Canyon Trail is one of the most popular trails in the park, and it certainly was the trail we saw the most people on while we were there,  although I still didn't feel it was too crowded.   There are multiple ways to experience this trail, and everyone needs to decide for themselves what is best for them.  You have three options:
  1.    "Cedar Run - Whiteout Circuit Hike" which is a very strenuous 7.3 mile circuit with a 2,794 elevation gain, and takes 6.25 hours
  2. "Boundary to Lower Falls Hike",  which is the easiest hike but you'd miss the tallest waterfall.  It is 2 miles round trip with a 500 foot elevation gain and takes 1.5 hours hiking time
  3. "Skyline Drive to Upper Whiteoak Fall Hike" which is a moderate hike of 4.6 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 1,040 feet and takes 3.5 hours.  You can stop there after viewing the tallest waterfall or continue on and add another 2.7 miles to the hike to see five more falls.

Although we would have loved to have seen all the waterfalls, because our bodies were aching from two full days of hiking already, and we had other hikes we wanted to take in the park, we chose option 3 and hiked only to the tallest waterfall on the trail, and returned back.  We also cut some time off of our hike by parking in the Limberlost Trail parking lot and NOT the Whiteoak Canyon Parking Lot.

This trail was so far on our trip one of the prettiest, and easiest trails we hiked yet.  I've heard if you start on the opposite end, it's pretty tough as you are pretty much climbing straight up, but the way we went was very moderate and comfortable hiking.  

Once you get through the Limberlost Trail area and a small forest, you are walking alongside a gorgeous river all the way to the waterfall.

My son Jordan was always scurrying ahead of us to rock scramble on the river or climb the largest rock he could find.

The trail had lots of large rocks and boulders of interest along the path.

There were lots of spots where there were smaller rapids and pools of water where one could swim on a hot day.

The waterfall is breath taking!  It is 86 feet tall and you do get a nice look at it from a rock formation above.

This is the rock formation that you climb onto to view the falls.

And here is a very short video of the falls.  It was totally worth the hike to see these falls!

My son went on ahead of us to see the other five waterfalls and said it was the "Best Waterfall Hike Of His Life!".  I wish we could have done it, but our bodies were saying "No" so we returned back.  Below are four of the waterfalls Jordan went on to see (he didn't take a picture of one of them).

After lunch, Jordan caught back up with us and we headed out for our last hike of the day:  Hawksbill Summit.

Hawksbill Summit is the tallest point in the park and a must-see if you are ever in Shenandoah.  Once again, there are multiple ways to get there and you need to pick the option best for you.

  1. "Hawksbill Loop Trailhead" a 2.9 mile circuit hike rated as moderate with an elevation gain of 860 feet and a hiking time of 2 hours.
  2. "Hawksbill Summit Trailhead"a shorter 1.7 mile , yet steeper hike to the summit rated as moderate with an elevation gain of 690 feet and a hiking time of 1 hour 15 minutes.
  3. "Hawksbill Summit via Upper Hawksbill Trailhead" a 2.1 mile hike rated as easiest with an elevation gain of 520 feet and a 1 hour and 30 minute hiking time.

Our goal, was just to make it to the summit as quickly and as easily as possible, so we chose option 3.  However, we were perplexed why the trail was described as "Easiest" (maybe it was the easiest of the three?) as we thought it was quite challenging since we were pretty much hiking straight up all the way there.

The steep, long hike was worth it though because it was GORGEOUS!
The top of the Shenandoah's highest peak offers a 360 degree view of the Shenandoah Valley, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the Virginia Piedmont.

It was a cloudy day, but the views were still incredible.  

The summit of Hawksbill Mountain is 4, 050 feet.

There is also a historic building at the top that the park turned into a picnic pavilion.


By now, it was late in the day and we were tired, so we called it a day.  Our next day in the park, was our last and best day yet and I will talk about that next week.  I might have to divide the post into two separate was that good!

Have a Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Monday, May 9, 2022

How to Wear Salmon

Hey Fashionistas, if you've noticed I haven't had a lot of fashion posts lately, you are correct!  I used to do about eight fashion posts a month, but then when Covid hit, I found I didn't need so many clothes anymore as I wasn't doing much outside the home.  So then I cut my fashion posts down to two a month and those two posts were fashion challenges that I did with other blogging groups on social media.  Well the past month and a half, those two groups either picked themes I wasn't interested in or they picked a theme  which I had no ideas or clothes for, so I declined to participate in those challenges.  Because I haven't done a fashion post in awhile, I thought I'd share some pictures from TWO years ago!  You heard me right! I've held onto these pictures for two years and I never shared them.  That is why there are sunflowers in the first picture. 😂. Everyone knows we can't grow sunflowers in Wisconsin in May.

How to Wear Salmon

I absolutely love the color salmon, or peach, or light coral...😉 it's one of those colors that everyone has a different name for.  It's a color that complements everyone's skin tone, and it's the perfect color to wear in spring or summer.

I received these comfy, cool salmon cotton pants in a Stitch Fix years ago.  I recently styled them with a sweatshirt and sneakers in THIS POST, and with an all white top HERE.  At 59, I'm starting to grow less comfortable in shorts, and prefer to a wear a lightweight cotton pant during the hot months instead.  I honestly don't find them any warmer than a pair of shorts.  The secret to wearing pants in summer is the fabric, and keep them loose...away from the skin as much as possible.

Salmon can be a tricky color to coordinate with.  My favorite color to wear with salmon is crisp white!  I will quite often reach for a white tee and white sneakers to go along with these pants.

Other colors that go great with salmon are blue, green and eggplant.  I'm sure you've already noticed how well this color goes with the beautiful, lush green plant background.

These pictures were taken the first year we planted our vegetable garden:  the first summer after Covid.  The porch wasn't even screened in or painted yet.  I couldn't believe how big, lush, and beautiful all the vegetables grew for my very first year as a vegetable garden.  I kept saying "There must have been something in that soil that we hauled in".

My kitty Jackson is an indoor kitty, but he is allowed onto the screened porch and vegetable garden area.  We call it his "Catio".  😁

My top coincidentally matches my pants perfectly.  The top is super old, from JCP.  I owned the top before I got the pants from Stitch Fix.  The salmon in the top ties the outfit together, and the blue coordinates and contrasts beautifully.

The top also has a lovely, interesting crochet edge that I just love.  It's sleeveless, and hangs very loosely, so it keeps my tummy concealed and is cool and comfy as well.

I completed the outfit with neutrals.  I wore neutral thong sandals, a gold bracelet,  and bamboo earrings from Amazon (similar HERE). 

 I hope you enjoyed my two year old fashion pictures! 😃 I hope to be fashion blogging with my other styling sisters soon!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Shenandoah National Park, Day Two: Dark Hollow Falls, Rose River Falls, and Lewis Falls

This is Day Two of a travel series to Shenandoah National Park.  If you'd like to start at the beginning, go HERE.

On our second day at Shenandoah National Park, "Skyline Drive" opened.  We were so excited we could officially drive into the park.  We felt we had to make up for loss time, so we set an ambitious goal of hiking three waterfall trails in one day:  Dark Hollow Falls, Rose River Falls, and Lewis Falls.

Shenandoah National Park is a very unique park as the entire park sits on top of a mountain range.  There is a road on top of the mountain called "Skyline Drive".  You can see it marked in red on the map below.  "Skyline Drive" is 105 miles long and has more than 75 miles of overlooks with scenic views.  There are more than 500 miles of hiking trails that lead to stunning views of waterfalls, mountain vistas, and lush forests.  All the trails are accessed from "Skyline Drive".

There are so many trails that it's hard to choose which ones to hike, that is why we allowed four full days in the park.  We've never spent this much time in one park before.  We decided to only do waterfall hikes (with the exception of Hawk's Bill) because we thought we got enough scenic views by stopping at most of the overlooks.

We were always in the park early in the morning and we were able to see a lot of wildlife because of it.  Below is an owl who we spotted as we were driving into the park.  We saw most of the animals that were listed as "Wildlife in the Park" including a lot of interesting birds and snakes.  The only animal we didn't see was the black bear...which is probably a good thing. 😀

Dark Hollow Falls Trail

Dark Hollow Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes in the park.  When I was googling information on what hikes to take, everyone recommended Dark Hollow Falls.  It's a 1.4 mile circuit hike  with an elevation gain of 440 feet and is rated as moderate.  The trail is short, but the return climb is steep and rocky.  I should mention that the one drawback of a park being on top of a mountain range is that most of the trails involve climbing of some sort...especially waterfalls trails.  All the waterfall trails had to go DOWN to get to the falls, so every trail we hiked (with the exception of one) was difficult climbing back up.

Now add to the steep nature of this trail snow and ice.  In the picture above you can see how the ground was solid ice.  I had my hiking poles with me, so I used them to keep me from slipping.  I never would have been able to hike this trail without them.  I saw so many people struggling hiking down to the waterfall, but the hike back up was much more manageable.

Dark Hollow Falls is a gorgeous trail, even if there were no waterfall at the end.  The entire trail runs alongside a mountain stream, through a beautiful forest, with lots of interesting rock formations.

Dark Hollow Falls

Seeing the waterfall at the end was a real treat.  And I think the fresh snowfall on the rocks made it even more pretty.  The falls are 70 feet high.  If you look closely in the picture above, you can see me sitting at the base of the falls wearing all black.  But if you look up, right in the middle of the falls, you will see my adventurous son standing.  He was so camouflaged by his clothing, even I didn't see up there when I got to the bottom of the falls.

Here is a short video of Dark Hollow Falls

This trail was so beautiful in the snow with bare trees, I can't even imagine what it would be like in the summer or fall.  Everyone said the park is super crowded during the summer months.  I found this park one of the least crowded of any I've ever been too.  I know it's not the tourist season, but we always travel off-season, and the parks are always super crowded.  I think this park is just so large, and it has so many hiking trail possibilities, that people are just more spread out.  We never once had trouble finding parking for any trail.  And most of the time, we had the trail completely to ourselves.  

The deer are so plentiful in this park.  I've never seen so many deer in a park before.  They are everywhere, and are very tame.  You can get very close to them, they don't run away easily.  And my husband said "They are very well trained, because they never got scared and ran across the road when they saw a car."  😂.  They always stay to the side of the road.

We just loved walking alongside this beautiful stream all the way to the falls.

Rose River Falls

Rose River Falls is a moderate 4 mile circuit hike with an elevation gain of 910 feet.  I must admit this was one of my least favorite hikes in the park.  It's two miles to the falls, most of which you are walking through a forest (you do walk past a stream as you get closer to the falls), so there isn't much scenery....and it's all downhill to the falls, so guess what the return trip will be?  You guessed it!  Two miles, all uphill.  It's not easy going uphill for two straight miles, so I was hurting at the end.

I also didn't think the falls were worth the two mile hike to see.  It's only 67 feet high, and the falls are split into two on each side of the rocks.  In the summer, I'm sure a lot of people use the base of the falls as a swimming hole.  

A video of Rose River Falls

Well, by now we had already hiked 5.4 miles so after a lunch break we got back in the car and enjoyed more scenic overlooks on the way to our final hike of the day:  Lewis Falls

Lewis Falls

Lewis Falls is the fourth tallest falls in the park at 81 feet.  I really don't recommend taking this hike at all, as there are so many better waterfall hikes in the park (coming in future travel posts).  It starts nicely through a pretty forest and alongside a stream (saw a deer drinking water from the stream), but then it gets very rocky and is a steep climb down (and yes, you have to go back up).  It was our last hike of the day, and we were already extremely fatigued, so I think that might have added into our dislike of the trail.  But when I read other reviews of the trail, most other hikers had similar feelings.  It was also very slippery with both snow and ice, so thank goodness I had poles.  

This trail is a 3.3 mile circuit hike and is rated as moderate with an elevation gain of 990 feet.

I think our biggest issue with the falls is you go through so much work to get to it and you can barely see it.  You can't get to the bottom of the falls, but only to an observation deck off the side.  In the summer when the foliage is on the trees, you probably can't see much of it at all.  I did read on another blog however, that you can see more of the falls if you take a spur trail to the right of the overlook.  We didn't know about the spur trail at the time, but that's probably ok because at that point we were exhausted and ready to call it a day.  All in all, by the end of Day Two we hiked 8.7 miles.  And on Day One we hiked 10 miles.  Our bodies were aching!

Some Scenic Overlooks

We spent the remainder of Day Two driving out of the park en route to our resort, and of course we stopped frequently enjoying all the overlooks along the way.  The picture above shows more tame deer, and a typical overlook.  Not all the overlooks are as large as this one, some are just one side area for a few cars to fit.  But as you can see, there one was only one car enjoying the view when we arrived.  We never had trouble waiting for a spot to pull over at an overlook.

The beauty of this park, is that anyone can enjoy it because of  the gorgeous scenic drive and all the beautiful overlooks.  Heck, you can spend all day in the car and never get out if you want.   We did not take advantage of them, but they have several restaurants and waysides in the park where you can enjoy a meal and look out the window or sit on the patio and enjoy the view too.

Next week, I will be back with another water fall hike plus a hike to Shenandoah's highest peak.  The trip only got better after Day Two, for the rest of our hikes were INCREDIBLE!

Have A Great Day!  Amy

Linking Up with these Fabulous Blogs HERE!