Trek Women
September 17, 2007

What goes down, must come up...

Flat was merely a figment of our imagination. This past weekend Russ, Wayne, our friend, Bill, and I spent the weekend camping, biking and hiking in Shenandoah National Park, which is located about 75 miles outside of DC. We were practically an LL Bean catalog -- that is, if the models of outdoorsy perfection featured in those pages stop and gasp for air within the first mile of riding.

Our mission was to “do” Skyline Drive, which runs through the Park along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains. After that first ugly climb just to get out of the campground, it was downhill for miles. While speeding down the two-lane-wide, switchback road at more than 30 mph, I couldn’t help but groan with every passing inch… what goes down, must eventually come up.

We reached the bottom, pulled in to a parking lot and looked at each other. We’d all been guiltily thinking the same thing; maybe a park ranger would take us back.  We’re made of sterner stuff than that, so we got on our bikes and pedal stroke by pedal stroke pushed our way up the steep hill. It wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be; but, it certainly wasn’t pretty. Mission accomplished.

We regained a little of our LL Bean’ish-ness by changing into hiking clothes to “do” the Overall Run Falls trail. We set off and the path started going down, down, down.  Oh no, I thought. We stopped at the Falls overlook and ate an incredible picnic lunch packed by Bill (tuna and white bean salad with sliced cherry tomatoes, red onions, green olives and basil in a vinaigrette served over romaine lettuce with crusty bread and a chocolate chip cookie for dessert).

The energy came in handy when we turned around to go back to the trailhead. Up, up, up, we climbed, panting once again. We crossed paths with a guy who told us to be on the lookout. He’d just seen a mama bear with her cubs. What?!!!

Now, I like camping. I don’t like critters. Even though my legs were tired, if I had seen mama, I guarantee I could have broken my personal best for running a mile. And yes, for future reference, you’re not supposed to run when you see a bear – according to the Park Service you should stop, clap your hands and talk softly. Finally, we arrived at the top, bear-sighting free. Mission #2 accomplished.

We spent the rest of the day and evening relaxing in front of the campfire, telling stories, and enjoying Russ’ delicious chicken and dumpling stew.  Who needs LL Bean perfection anyway when you’ve had a heck of a good time with great friends. 


I want to go camping with you guys. The cuisine sounds divine. Just leave me with the tents when you go do your xtreme sports!


Posted by: Becky | Sep 19, 2007 4:03:21 PM

So, any plans to try the SkyMass ride?

(That's down Skyline Drive from it's northern end at Front Royal to US 211, Through Luray, across the Shenandoah River, up and over Massanutten, then back through the Fort Valley into Front Royal. The trip adds up to 80-plus miles with plenty of climbing.)

Posted by: Michael | Sep 21, 2007 1:46:12 PM

Hi, it's Laura! I've never heard of the SkyMass ride before; but it sounds intriguing. I'm a better climber than a speedster, so this could be right up my alley. Hmmmm, wonder if I can fit it in before it gets too cold out there. Thanks for the recommendation, Michael!!

Posted by: Laura | Sep 21, 2007 3:49:44 PM

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