Monday, August 24, 2015

Day 68: The Lewis Falls Detour

May 14: Between waking up late and the long drive back to the trail where Amanda had picked me up at the end of the day, I didn’t get back on the trail and walking until 10:00 in the morning—a late start by any measure! And, just because I like a challenge (I guess—I can’t imagine why else I’d have done it to myself), I was going to do a whopping 20.0 miles for the day. That many miles isn’t so bad, but it was a late start for such a high-mileage day.
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The trail passed by this small cemetery. I wonder
how people get themselves buried in a national park?!

And almost first thing I did was detour off the Appalachian Trail. The A.T. led through Big Meadow, which is nice and all, but a largely parallel, blue-blazed trail led down to Lewis Falls and I decided it would be more fun to see a waterfall. The detour wasn’t a shortcut, however. Oh, no… The detour went down a steeper, longer and rockier trail than the A.T. did. The A.T. followed a nearly flat ridgeline and the shortest path over the ridge while I meandered well off the ridge then would have to reclimb it to get back to the top.

So really, the only good excuse for me to take the detour was because I really, really wanted to see a waterfall rather than another meadow. =)

And I have to say, for anyone reading this and wants to know my opinion of which route to take, I’d stay on the official A.T. The waterfall I thought was underwhelming for the amount of effort required to get there. On the way down, I filled up a water bottle from a stream—not unusual for me to do—but further down the trail it crossed the stream again and there had been posts installed warning that the water was contaminated and not to drink it. Damn it! It probably came straight from the Big Meadow area. You’d think in a national park the water would be safe to drink, but civilization does terrible things to water.

I hadn’t actually drank any of the water yet. It was early in the morning and I wasn’t thirsty—I was just filling up for later—but I didn’t dump out the water upon learning that it was contaminated. I wasn’t sure where the next water source would be and contaminated water was better than no water at all if push came to shove! I wouldn’t drink any of the water—not yet, at least—but I wasn’t going to dump it out until I found a better replacement.

It didn’t take long for me to rejoin the A.T. near the Big Meadow Campground where I was able to dump out the contaminated water and fill up with piped water from the campground.
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Don’t drink water when you find a message like this marking it!

The rest of the day’s hiking was largely uneventful. Lots of wonderful views, but it was more rugged and slower than I expected and I wound up arriving at Thornton Gap about 1 1/2 hours later than I had expected, but Amanda was waiting for me with nice cold drinks and all was right with the world. =)

Once again, Amanda and I moved our base of operations since the drive from our last hotel was becoming prohibitively long and from Thornton’s Pass, the town of Luray was a very quick drive down the road. We found ourselves a cheap hotel and ate dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant for the night.

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Lewis Falls—kind of a letdown for me. I’ve seen much bigger and more impressive falls. And ones that didn’t use a lot of contaminated water from Big Meadows!

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Lots of big views today, though!

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Watch out for that “stomach bug”! It’s a nasty little critter!

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You can take horse rides in the Shenandoahs. This is one of the horses at a stable that the trail passes by. =) Hello little horsey!

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Amanda has been here. I can sense these things…

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Luray—our destination for the night—is down there somewhere.

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I think I found our hotel!

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See the tiny people on the cliffs below?

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Now I’m at the bottom where those tiny people from the previous photo looking up at the cliff which I had been before. See that blue dot near the middle? It’s a rock climber! (I felt it would have been mean to tell him there’s a much easier and faster way to the top by following the trail, so I let him keep climbing.)

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love how she always carries chalk and leaves you messages... they must really put a smile on your face after a long day. <3
~MoonshineOverKY

George Boscoe said...

we drove down the skyline trail shortly after you passed through,, it was fun being in the same place as you at different times