Hello and happy Wednesday! I feel like Michael Bublé, emerging from his cave at Christmas and ready to cover the classic holiday tunes. (Anyone else know that meme?)
Well, it may be the middle of summer, but I feel like I’ve been hiding out– not intentionally, but the blog has been preeeetty quiet! Sorry about that. But it’s for good reason… I promise!
It all goes back to last weekend at Shenandoah National Park. We’d been planning to go camping this summer at some point, but weren’t sure when. After some deliberation, we decided to make it a long weekend, roast some veggies, and go!
The mountains are breathtaking, which made the hikes incredible and so worthwhile. Last year, we stayed at the northernmost campground, Matthews’ Arm, but this year, we made it to Loft Mountain! Loft Mountain has the highest ratings out of all of the campgrounds at Shenandoah, and we soon found out why. Not only does Loft Mountain have newer showers and bathrooms, it’s also located at the top of a mountain. In terms of camping, it was perfect for finding a puddle-free spot in the thunderstorm we were under! (Pro tip from a former Girl Scout: if rain is in the forecast, try to get a spot at the top of a hill, so that you don’t end up with a wet tent bottom. The water will run downhill, so as long as you set up the rain fly properly, you should be able to sleep soundly and keep dry.)
The area was also inundated by rabbits. These bunnies were hardly intimidated by everyone in the area– so cute!
On our trip, we managed to see a bunch of wildlife. I know the picture above is blurry, but I thought it was hilarious. Oh hey there, deer!
These deer were pretty friendly, so we kept our distance– they didn’t seem to care that we were there! It’s actually against federal law to touch, intentionally scare, or feed the wildlife within the park, so it’s no wonder these deer were so relaxed!
We prepared ahead of time by making sure to bring plenty of food: roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, veggie burgers, bagels, and more! We also brought plenty of water, which was critical when we went on our long hike on Saturday. (Check out Sweet Simple Vegan’s grocery list for ideas on what food to bring camping!)
After breakfast and clean-up (crucial with the bears– never leave food or trash alone!) on Saturday, we made our way out toward the Jones River Falls. On the way out to Jones, we hiked by a bunch of waterfalls, including ones at Doyles River Falls. (You can find the PDF map here for trails from Loft Mountain!)
When hiking Shenandoah, make sure to purchase and break in hiking shoes or boots. I brought old sneakers (so I didn’t muck up my running shoes with the mud!), but boots would have provided better grip. Some trails can be especially rocky, and the deeper treads in the bottom of hiking boots would have been helpful. I loved seeing all of the waterfalls. Last year, the falls we visited weren’t nearly as impressive, but with this year’s rain, there was plenty of water!
We also came across a few cool bugs on our hike out there. Maybe it’s weird, but I love seeing the indigenous wildlife wherever we hike– no matter how big or small!
There were a couple of trees down from the storm, but we managed to make our way around them.. and finally, we got to Jones Run Falls. There’s a parking lot not far from these falls, but the chance to relax while sitting on the rocks near the falls made the long hike worthwhile.
Oh, and then on the way back.. we got engaged!
So I mean, I’d say it was a pretty good trip. We hope to make it back to Shenandoah before the end of the season, but it looks like we’ve got a busy year ahead of us!
Questions for you:
What are some of your favorite places to camp and hike?
What are your best wedding planning tips? SOS! 😉
What food do you usually bring when camping or hiking?