Monday, December 31, 2007

Sam's Ridge & Hazel River - SNP

On Saturday I went out to SNP to hike! I'd again planned to hike on the AT to work toward finishing the central district, however I called ahead and Skyline Drive was closed due to ice storm damage. rats. Luckily I discovered this while still at home and could re-group. I decided to hike a smallish loop - 7 miles - in a region of the park that is typically called "Hazel Country".

Reaching the trail head involved winding back up into what West Virginiaians would call a "holler" - a single lane dirt road and the trail branched off from it. Finding parking would be a challenge as it seems that the majority of the people who own property that bumps up to SNP are crotchety rednecks who aren't fond of hikers. I'm sure there's good reason for this, but it's frustrating for one who truly wants to just park, hike, and leave. I'd love to buy some SNP boundry property someday and create a welcoming place for hikers to park and maybe offer snacks and stuff too...but I digress...

I ended up driving all the way down the road and turned around - I only located the trailhead because another car had parked there and the occupants were getting ready to hike. Luckily there was room for me too so I pulled in. I gave the other hikers a head start and I never saw them again until they arrived back at their car about 5 mins after I arrived back.

Part of the loop I was planning to hike went along the Hazel River - in fact the trail crossed the river 4 times. The guide book had warned hikers to be prepared to wade if the water was high. We've had a drought but it's also rained a lot lately so I had no idea what to expect. I opted to go up the ridge first and then hike along the river at the end, that way if I got wet I'd be almost back at the car!

I headed up the ridge and was glad that I'd did it first - it was quite steep and I would have hated to have to walk down it! Besides I enjoy the uphill much more than the downhill! (I know, I'm crazy). The trail had wonderful winter views of the surrounding mountains, not many that were photo worthy though. Hard to capture the mountains through the trees!

The area I was hiking through had burned in November 2003. It was the largest forest fire in SNP. It was actually 2 fires - one that started on Old Rag Mountain and the other started in a picnic area on Skyline Drive. The two fires converged and a huge section of the park burned. I saw the fire from Skyline Drive as it was coming down the mountain behind Panorama - it was awesome to see. While the area burned it is not dead - the picture above shows a burned out tree - it was only one of a few reminders of the huge fire!

The sun was forcast to make an appearance and it did, but only for a few minutes. I believe that this mountain is Mary's Rock on Skyline Drive, but I could be wrong.

The last mile and a half of the hike I walked along the beautiful and senic Hazel River. The Hazel River is your typical mountain river with big boulders, rushing water and lots of moss! I had to cross the river 4 times. The first time I stayed dry. The second time I got my right foot wet. The third time I got my left foot wet. The fourth time I got both feet soaked. My right foot was so squishy I felt certain that there was at leasy of cup of water in my boot and I considered taking my boot off to dump the water. At this point I was quite happy I was less than a mile from the car as I would not have wanted to hike 6 miles with soaking feet! It was about 50 degrees outside but I really wasn't cold....again though, I'm glad I was close to the car!

The picture above is one of the cascades in the river. My dad had been showing my how to change the sensitivity on my camera and change the sutter speed - I slowed it down for this picture and it mad ethe water blurry! Pretty cool!

Another shot of the Hazel River.

I returned to my car tired, but thrilled that it was only 4:00 - I thought I'd be able to get home and do something with my evening. I thought wrong. Very soon after I got in the car my typical post hike headache got going. This happens almost everytime I go hiking in SNP - it didn't happen in Alaska, Glacier, the Tetons, etc.... By the time I got to Warrenton, about halfway home, I took some Tylenol - it did nothing and by the time I got home I thought my head was going split open. I showered and crawled into bed before 8. I woke up at 3am and my head was still pounding so I took some Advil and when I woke up the next morning the headache was mostly gone.

I have explored various theories on these headaches - dehydration, not eating enough, allergies, asthma. On Saturday's hike all those things were controlled for. My new theory is that when I hike I'm getting migraines triggered by leaf mold and other outdoor allergens. I'll check with the doctor next time I see her. I did buy some Advil Migriane today to try the next time I hike. We'll see. I hope it works because I love hiking and I can only enjoy it in winter as it is!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Drew's End of the Year Meme

My friend Drew posted this on his blog and asked anyone else who wanted to to's a random list of favorite from 2007....I added a few categories as well..

Best Album: that's a hard one as I don't listen to whole "albums" anymore....iPod killed the album star! I never really did before though either... I did really enjoy Dave Matthews Band's Crash this year.
Best Non-Fiction: Words Their Way by Marcia Invernizzi and others and Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mom's Journey to Adoption in China
Best TV Series: Deadliest Catch, The Office
Best Fiction: Water for Elephants and the Stephanie Plum novels
Best Kids’ Music: Free to be You and Me
Best Movie: I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry - prob not the best but likely the ONLY movie I saw in 2007
Best Sign of the Apocalypse: This website: Rapture Letters
Best Come Back of the Year: hmmm....not sure on this one...

Ok my categories:
Best Old TV show you are just getting into: Northern Exposure
Best Hike
Anything in Denali National Park
Best grocery store: The New Harris Teeter
Best Summer Vacation: RVing in Alaska

Ok....I'm tagging everyone who reads this too Drew...add your own best of categories and share the events of the year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mr. Deity

Need some offbeat "Christian" humor in your day?
Go here click on "shows" then on Mr. Deity. Funny Stuff.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I like a combination.

2. Real tree or artificial?
Artifical - we have always had a fake tree so that's just the way it's supposed to be. Also, I have serious allergies to all things outdoors so can't have a real tree.

3. When do you put up the tree? I usually don't. For the last 5 years I haven't put up a tree. I'm not home for the holiday and I just have to find time to take it down and put it away.

4. When do you take the tree down? Never b/c I don't put it up!

5. Do you like eggnog? I'm not a huge fan - a half a cup with some fruitcake or sherry cake is nice. Susan makes a great homemade egg nog.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? many....the year of the Cabbage Patch Kid rush my mom arranged for me to get a homemade Cabbage Patch Kid. It was also the year I stopped believing in Santa. She wanted to make things more fun so she hid all my gifts in the living room and tied string around each one I had to follow the string - rolling it up on a toilet paper tube as I went - to each gift. The Cabbage Patch Kid was last, along the way there were Cabbage Patch accessories and it was making me mad b/c I thought I'd never really have a Cabbage Patch doll for them and couldn't figure out why mom had gotten me all these things.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, I have one that I cross stitched - it's 10 stand up figures that I cross stitched and had professionally finished. It stays out year round.

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My mom and Dad - they usually just go buy whatever they want so it's hard.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
The kids on my list - Alex, Evan, Brandon - they are little so prtty much anything works...or just wrapping paper and empty shipping envelopes.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Not that I recieved but last year my grandma was given a box set of Hee Haw DVDs. Guess what we did Christmas afternoon? That's right. 6 hours of Hee Haw. Funny at first, annoying 6 hours later.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?
I haven't done any in recent years, but I do love recieving newsy letters with pictures and stuff!

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
Hands down A Christmas Story. Cracks me up every time. No I don't watch the entire 24 hour marathon on Christmas eve but I usual tune in to parts of it.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I don't buy much, I start when I see the 1st present I like for someone - I don't buy "random stuff" I try to make sure the gift matches the person and if I can't find anything then they might not get a gift!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Oh my gosh yes!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Peanut butter candy, fudge, sherry cake, fruit cake, christmas cookies, crandberry layerd jello salad...everything.

16. Lights white or colored on the tree?
white lights - although Mom had a tree when we lived in Cincinnati covered in colored lights and it was pretty. colored lights get obnoxious fast.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Anything that is a carol - I'm not a big fan of Christmas songs that don't mention Jesus.

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Travel - I usually get my grandmother in Fredericksburg on Christmas eve or the day before and we go to my parents house in Williamsburg. No kids involved so it's usually very low key.

19. Can you name all of Santa's' reindeer? Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, Rudolph!!!!!!!! I teach 1st grade - this is basic information!

20. Angel on the treetop or a star?
My mom made an Angel when I was young - I used to think she was the most beautiful thing ever. I saw it the other day in a box in the attic....she's looking abig ragged.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Christmas Day - with no kids involved we usually sleep in, eata leisurly breakfast and then maybe around 11 or 12 mosy into the living room and open presents. We go 1 person at a time and show off what we got usually takes 2-3 hours but we chit chat and break for cofee and stuff...

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
That you couldn't go to the mall if you wanted to. Radio stations that play holiday music that isn't even religious. That EVERYONE, including the Muslim children at my school, celebrates Christmas - it seems to take the meaning out when it's a mass holiday that is celebrated irrespective of religon.

23. What do you love most about Christmas?
The songs, the lights, the cold weather - the snow (here's hoping for more!)

I have gotten this survey through e-mail several times but posted it back here and feel the need to tag people....if you are reading this and haven't posted this to your are it!!! :) Post away! :)