After spending a sweltering two and a half weeks on the coast, we headed back to the hills to Shenandoah National Park in VA. Ahhh, it feels like home! Skyline Drive, the northern extension of the Blue Ridge Parkway, runs the length of the park, as does the Appalachian Trail. We drove, camped and hiked in this beautiful Appalachian Mountain chain for 3 days. It feels like such a sanctuary compared to the madness that abounds between here and the coast! A great place to celebrate the summer solstice.
Definitely the highlight of Shenandoah for us was one particular hike to a waterfall. On the way to the overlook, just as it was starting to sprinkle rain, we heard some crashing noises in the woods and saw a black bear! We were able to watch if for several minutes before it ambled away out of view. The rain had stopped by the time we got to the overlook, and George bounded atop of the rock wall built on the ledge. He heard the startling sound of a rattle, and there was a fat timber-rattler 3 feet from him. Luckily for George the snake slithered off in the opposite direction under the rock ledge. Since I had not thought to get my camera out for the earlier black bear sighting, we really wanted to get a photo of the rattlesnake. So George approached the ledge and held the camera out over the ledge (hoping to get the whole snake in view). Meanwhile, I was watching George and could see the head of the snake he was hoping to photograph. Then I saw another similarly shaped head peer out from another rocky ledge to the side of George. I alerted him that there seemed to be a whole family of timber-rattlers, and he felt sufficient in his photography. Here's the picture he risked his life for.