A few weeks ago, I got up early and drove out to Shenandoah to do a solo hike. I got on trail at about 8am and ended up hiking for about 7 hours. My grand total ended up doing 13.1 miles and gained over 3,000 feet of elevation gain. I climbed two mountains (one I had to do twice) and crossed a river twice (once barefoot).
Due to the amount of pictures I took while I was on trail, that I have to break the photos into two posts. The post today is from the first half of the hike and tomorrow’s post will have photos of the second half.
Laurel Prong Trail & Cat Knob
This was the first section of the trail. It was up and down in several places and it eventually took me to Cat Knob. Cat Knob is not a terribly tall mountain, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in steepness. Most of the trail is a gradual uphill so you will feel it by the time you get to the top (at least I did). There are no views at the top, but you get to say you climbed a mountain.
Once I got to the top, I went down the opposite side to get to the Jones Mountain Trail.
Jones Mountain Trail
I took the Jones Mountain Trail from Cat Knob, through the woods a ways and then up and over Bear Church Rock. This was a semi-flat walk through the woods. There was an ice storm in the area before I had arrived, so there were a lot of downed trees in the area to work around. It was not as bad here as it was later on down the trail, and the trail never got completely blocked.
Once I got closer to Bear Church Rock, I ended up going through a few tunnels of laurels. There are not in bloom this time of year, but it was still a wonderful experience.
Bear Church Rock
This mountain gave me the best views of the entire hike. The actual summit itself is covered and does not have a great view. There is an overlook just past the summit that offers close to a 180 degree view of the surrounding areas. I stopped here for a few minutes to have trail mix lunch. Honestly, just going to this mountain and back would have been worth the drive. However, I am a crazy person so I pressed on for several more miles.
While I was at the summit, I saw several vultures and a Cooper’s Hawk. The didn’t seem to mind sharing the sky with me.
The rest of my hike will be highlighted tomorrow. Hopefully you have enjoyed the pictures so far!