Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Big Meadows and Horseback Riding in Shenandoah National Park.

Thistle enjoying the view from a pull-off on the Skyline Drive.
 We were on our way to Big Meadows Campground.
 After settling in, Nan and I took a drive in her car farther north on the Skyline Drive. This is a butt shot of a groundhog that crossed the road in front of us.
 We stopped at the stables at Skyland to meet the horses and reserve a trail ride for the next day.
 Then we stopped to admire the views.
Nan decided she shouldn't try to go through Mary's Rock Tunnel with her RV, so we will go around and get back on the Skyline Drive north of it when we continue on.
 Redbud trees are blooming here.
 Many deer hand out near Big Meadows. You have to watch out for them as you drive.

 Our campsites at Big Meadows….pull throughs.
 A brown thrasher with his catch.
Thistle and I hiked another portion of the Appalachian Trail that goes by the campground.
 Nan and I took a short hike to Blackrock.
 Views from Blackrock.

 We had passed sign for Dean Cemetery, so we drove back to see it. In the Visitor Center we found a book about the generations of the Dean family that lived on the mountain before the National Park took over the land.
 The cemetery is still used by descendants of James Dean, and it is the responsibility of the family to maintain the graves.

 The oldest graves surround the big lilac bush.
 The family patriarch, James Dean, who first settled on the mountain.
 He and his wife Sarah raised 10 children, and as they grew up, land on the mountain was parceled out to each of the 8 boys and their families.
 The book had some interesting tales about life on the mountain, including one son who was murdered with an axe.
 This beautiful Scarlet Tanager was watching over the cemetery.

 The next day we were up at the crack of dawn to go on our horseback ride.
 This new fawn and his mom were out at that time too.
 But all I got was a butt shot.
 More early morning deer were in the meadow.
 Sunrise over the valley.
 Nan's horse, Whiskey, and Sugarfoot were being readied for the ride.
 Many hands helped Nan get a leg-up on the horse.
 Jeremy was our guide. We had a private tour for our 2 1/2 hour ride to Oak Canyon Falls.
 Sugarfoot getting his hoofs cleaned.
 And we're ready!
 I have a lot of butt shots of Nan and Whiskey. Sugarfoot knows the nose to tail routine.
 But really, Whiskey, must you stop to pee so soon?

 Crossing the Skyline Drive.

 Passing through an old apple orchard. The apple blossoms smelled heavenly.
 Crossing the Limberlost Trail…ADA accessible.

 We come to the waterfall, but cannot dismount to get a better view.

 The top of Oak Canyon Falls. Some hikers were wading in the pool at the top.

 Turning around to go back the same trail.

 Back at the apple orchard, Whiskey decided the green grass looked good and snatched the reins out of  Nan's hands to grab some.
 Jeremy came back to retrieve the reins.
 But Whiskey got his grass.
 And it was so good he did it again!
 Sugarfoot showed restraint.
 Back over the Skyline Drive.
 Ask Nan how many steps/stairs the horse registered on her Fitbit.

 Sugarfoot and Whiskey are both male (gelding) Quarter Horses.

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