It happened! We finally got a free weekend that had a few days of middle of the ground weather and less mosquitoes. Dare I say the mosquitoes and ticks are slowing down a bit? No, no, no I’m not going to say that just in case, can’t risk jinxing it. So we went along with two other people to the Shenandoah National Park, a Commonwealth of Virginia national treasure given to the U.S. Federal Government.
It is protected as a National Wilderness Preservation System which has dangerous black bears (cuddly but pls don’t hug), bobcats, spotted skunks and poisonous snakes. This national park is otherwise known as part of the Appalachian Trail and for its Scenic Skyline Drive.
Last year we tested out the massively busy fall leaf viewing at Shenandoah National Park but for us we were excited to hear of the 196,000 acres (790 km2) of back-country and wilderness camping. Not that we are major campers but we do like to have a few weekends each summer and take a camping/hiking trip. This year has been rather rainy and full of either ticks or mosquitoes – not really the most pleasant.
But this weekend we got together with two other people and took to the see the largest waterfall in the park, it’s a total of 93ft. on the Overall Run Trail. There are a few trails to go on to get to the waterfall, there is a small 4 mile trail (which my husband didn’t tell me about before leaving), a 6.5 mile smaller loop and of course the largest loop of 10-12 miles. Yeah, I’m assuming you can guess which one my husband chose… LOL Six hours later we had seen the waterfalls, gawked at overlook of other mountains, feared the lack of no civilization for miles, cringed over no cell phone reception and climbed up and down the mountain side. Oh my goodness we were sore after this hard hike and definitely not for beginners. Just remember to take an emergency kit –since it is a hard hike and no emergency stations. Oh and just so you know, dogs are allowed on the hike but small dogs should be kept in a carrier since it’s a difficult climb up and down.
As this was only our second hike in the Shenandoah Mountains, we weren’t sure what to expect. We had taken a smaller hike near the top, across the street from the visitor’s center at the Front Royal Entrance. About half way through the hike, we were wishing there was a small route as we weren’t prepared for such a challenge. It is a hard hike up and down the rocky mountain side and can be really tough on the knees.
Our furry baby didn’t have any issues as she was lucky enough to sit in her canine backpack and have me carry her on my back. She slept most of the way, minus the stops where she was given water and pup cookies and dog food. Let’s just say she had the best deal on the mountain. For us, we did manage to take along a lunch of vegan sausages & hot dogs wraps, Trader Joes raw nuts, Cliff Bars, Luna Bars, dried fruit and plenty of fresh water.
In the area, back-country and wilderness camping is allowed. Since we did have our furry baby with us, we weren’t able to take along our camping gear on our backs. Genki Husband took the camera backpack with our food/water while I took the furry baby on my back with her food and water. So carrying our sleeping bags and tent didn’t even cross our minds. So we stayed in the Mathews Arm Campground (mile 22.1) which is just a collection of campsites squished together. The sites are separated by bushes or a few trees, so, even though the sites are close to each other, it is a quiet area. There were a few families with children but mainly just couples or groups of younger adults. Seeing as it was only $15 a night for two tents (6 people or less), I wasn’t expecting much but was thrilled there were toilets with running water in the sinks. There were no running showers or electricity but let me tell you how thrilling it is to have real flushing toilets. Yay!
Now on to food!!! Y’all know how much I love food talk. As we weren’t really at the camp site much with a fire or cooking gear, we only had two meals on site. For dinner we had Japanese curry which was basically prepped completely at home and ready to go at the campsite. At home I prepared Japanese Sekka rice along with nutrition filled hijiki. For the vegetable part I prepped carrot, purple potato, & onion slices and placed in an old plastic Chinese takeout container.
It worked perfectly and was ready to eat around the same time as the others that were eating sausages and baked beans from a can. For breakfast the next day we had Almond Milk 5x Protein with Healthy Seeded Oatmeal. It was so easy to put together after I made some Whoopie Pie Coffee and filled us up until we had lunch of wrapped vegan sausages/hot dogs. Mmmmm
We just had a good time, minus the sore body parts. It was a bit noisy at night since a group of people came in late but I don’t think that’s normal as the rangers came to talk to them the next morning. It was a safe camp trip since NPS rangers came around all the time in the cutest electric car and were very kind & helpful. The Matthews Arm Trail was the perfect weekend trip away.