This morning, I got a much needed massage. It was divine. I used to get fairly regular massages, but sadly, it's just not in the budget anymore. This one was great. Ahhh!
I came home, ate a quick lunch, and then Jason, Sierra and I got ourselves ready to go to Shenandoah for the afternoon. The dogs didn't get to come this time because we were planning on doing a couple "no dogs allowed" hikes, and besides, Jason and Sierra had taken them for a long walk while I was out. So all is well.
We really love being so close to Shenandoah so that we can head out there for a hike whenever we want to. Okay, not whenever we want to (life means that sometimes other obligations must come first), but pretty regularly anyway. Last year, we hiked in the very beginning of February. This winter though, we have missed December, January, and February! This was partly due to our schedules, but was definately influenced by the massive amounts of snow we've gotten. The road through the park was closed for much of the winter, not to mention, it's really hard to hike through piles of snow. The snow has disappeared from all but a few spots around here, and while we fully expected that there would still be snow up in the mountain, I must admit, I was actually surprised by how much was still hanging around.
We planned to begin our afternoon by hiking to the top of Bearfence Mountain. It's a very short hike (less than a mile, roundtrip) but it's steep and involves some rock scrambling to get to the top. Add to this large amounts of snow to hike through (packed down from previous hikers, but soft in places due to temperatures in the 50s at the park today), and a 23+ pound human on your back (for Jason), and it can make for a sometimes trecherous hike!!
Sierra has some funny commentary. We walked by this fallen tree and she said "big stick." Yes, love, that is a very big stick indeed!
She also let us know when she saw a "big rock" and a "Bird. Bird fly-ying." We could always be sure when we were going "Uppa hill," and "Downa hill" because Sierra told us (just in case we didn't realize).
We finally made it to the top of the mountain. Totally. Worth it. The view from the top of Bearfence is literally 360 degrees. It's amazing. And since we were there in the off-season, we really felt like we were in our own private playground. We had the trail completely to ourselves, the parking lot was empty except for our vehicle, and there was very little noise from passing cars on the road below.
The hike down was just as tough as the hike up: slick spots and deep snow and downward rock scrambling. We made it safely back to the car, though. We were going to try and do a second hike today that we've been wanting to check out. It starts at the visitor center and has guide posts along its 1.8 mile length detailing the "Story of the Forest." Like I mentioned, though, we had underestimated the amount of snow that would still be on the ground. As a result, Bearfence was more difficult than we had anticipated, and we did not feel like high stepping through deep snow for another 2 miles. Story of the Forest will have to wait for another, less snowy day. We did stop at the (closed for the season) visitor center just to stand on the porch and take in the view of a very snowy Big Meadow before heading home.
Side note: I nearly forgot my camera. We had to turn around and get it after we had already left home. I debated whether I really needed/wanted it. Turns out, going back was the right call. I would have been so angry to see those views and not have my camera to take a picture for posterity (and to share with you)!