Had a lovely walk around Lily Lake in Chenango Valley State Park the other day. Blue skies with puffy clouds, everything seemed an unreal green.
Lucky to see a turtle sunning on a log, and nearly tripped on this large garter snake, nestled in the leaves.
Last but not least, my favorite bird of prey, bald eagles at their nest on my way home.
Last month was my first backpacking experience. Not ready to try it solo, I went with a small group from Blue Ridge Hiking Co. and Heidi Nesbitt as our intrepid guide. (Follow Heidi on IG @sketchingsummits)
We met at the Blue Ridge store in Asheville, NC, where we got any equipment we needed. (All equipment is included in trip cost) Heidi had reviewed my pack and supplies before the trip. I’ve had my large backpack for a couple years, just didn’t have the courage to try it out. When they weighed my pack at 35 lbs, I thought I might be in trouble! After eliminating anything possible from my pack, we drove about an hour to meet at the Wildcat Falls trailhead.
We generally followed this trail, over 2 nights and 3 days.
Day 1: we had just a little rain which cleared up to cool sunny weather.
Shortly after we started, I learned I was the oldest of the group. This made me not feel as guilty when I needed to stop and catch my breath.
Headed up Flat Laurel Creek trail, and we arrived at our campsite near Wildcat Falls by 3 pm. Rather early, and not a long distance, but a big relief for me! (And probably a few others!)
Tent set-up was easy (I had practiced at home!), we then took off in various directions to sketch. After navigating down to the water’s edge, I sat and focused on sketching, lost in my thoughts.
View of Sam’s Knob
Creek near our campsite
We had dinner and a campfire, and I went to bed way too early, resulting in waking at 3 am. 🤷🏽♀️
Day 2: Overnight, temps went down to 30°, leaving a morning frost on our tents. Brrr.
After breakfast, we continued on the trail around Little Sam’s Knob, to the base of Sam’s Knob. I stayed back to sketch in a field with a few others while the rest made their way to the top, elev. 6,050 ft.
After a filling lunch, we headed to Black Balsam trailhead, where a man was playing lovely recorder tunes, and found (Yay!) open toilets!
There, again, I stayed with a few while the others made their way to Black Balsam Knob.
We then headed down the trail. My first thought was who would break glass here? Then realized the glittering diamond-like reflections were pieces of mica underfoot.
Our second campsite wasn’t perfect, the only level ground was where we set up our tents, even though they were a little too close, instead of continuing on.
Still a bit chilly at night, and who wants to leave their warm sleeping bag to answer nature’s call?
Day 3: our final day, seemed easier. Whether I got used to the altitude or the weight (or most likely that Heidi took as much extra from my pack as she could! Many many thanks!), by late morning, we all seemed to be sailing along. I’m so thankful for the great hikers that shared this experience. Everyone was there to help me get my backpack on each stop, and help stop the bleeding when I (oops) sliced my finger a bit.
Back to our cars by lunch, we all seemed to be in a hurry to get back to civilization.
The stillness and solitude are very much missed, so plans for future hikes in remote areas are always in the works!
After arriving at noon, I was able to take in 2 very nice hikes. Started off with Snead Farm Dickey Ridge loop, 3.6 miles. Should have been easy, like it was rated, but I was surprised to find myself huffing after a short distance. I realized we were at an elevation of 2,400’, not what I’m used to, so I just took my time and remembered it’s not a race! There was hardly anyone else on this trail, which was a great way to enjoy the park and the many views. Lunch had a wonderful view which I have not done justice with this quick sketch. Sorry!
Lunch view from Snead Farm Dickey Ridge loop
Stopped for a quick sketch of these bloodroot flowers, coming out to welcome me! The half opened leaf wrapped around the stem will open fully soon.
Got in a second shorter hike, Fox Hollow, which included a cemetery and a pink feather. (cardinal maybe?)
The second day, I got out early and beat the crowd to Mary’s Rock. This hike includes a portion of the Appalachian Trail, so I was happy to get this pic of an AT trail marker with the appropriate headgear. 😉
Sat down at the top and did a few sketches.
View from Mary’s Rock
View at Mary’s Rock
Also got a second shorter hike in after lunch at Skyland (where I stayed) to Stony Man. This trail was the most crowded and I used the horse trail (no horses on it yet) to go back down, which avoided most of the people. What can I say? I appreciate the solitude of hiking.
My last scheduled day, Wednesday, was going to rain ALL day, so I checked out early, and caught the view from a few overlooks along my way out, even got another quick sketch in. Will have to add color later!
I definitely would love to return here and complete some more of the 28 (!) hikes I saved! Thank you Shenandoah! 💕
Very excited to try some new hiking trails in a National Park that has much natural beauty. Here’s a map for you, I didn’t really know much about it until I started researching hike ideas.
I thought it would be simple to choose a couple trails that suit my ability and provide great views or a waterfall, but I’ve only narrowed it down to 28! And I’ll only have a couple days there!
Oh well, I guess a return visit will be needed. 😉
I’ve decided to give overnight backpacking a serious try. There’s lots of gear needed, and even gear that you’d prefer not to think about! (ahem, toilet stuff) One necessary item is a shovel, so I went online to research. After reading these rave reviews, I just knew I had to have this one! 😁.
Buddha sits in an east corner here, and I keep a small bowl of coins and pebbles from my travels next to him. Hotei, as he is also known, is a symbol of happiness, journeys and good fortune. Be sure to rub his belly for good luck! 🍀
This has a special place on the mantel, decided to do a quick sketch with some color thrown on. Ganesha is the elephant-headed Hindu deity. Described as chubby, gentle and wise, he is the remover of obstacles.
There’s something about a deep snowfall that makes me want to look deeper and think deep, poetic thoughts. So, here is a poem for you to enjoy with a sketch of my snow covered tree:
Are ye the ghosts of fallen leaves,
O flakes of snow,
For which, through naked trees, the winds
Or are ye angels, bearing home
The host unseen
Of truant spirits, to be clad
Again in green?
~John B. Tabb, “Phantoms”
And, if you missed this on social media, I did this after watching Mary Shelley. A lovely scene of her writing in her journal: