Saturday, July 9, 2011

Shenandoah National Park

Just back from several days at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.  As I mentioned yesterday, this place is a true national treasure.

In the 1930s as part of President Roosevelt’s programs to alleviate the Great Depression and get people back to work, the federal government took over a 100+ mile stretch of the famous Blue Ridge as a national park.  The famous Civilian Conservation Corps built the roads and the trails and the park buildings. Indeed , many mountain families were displaced and relocated, and I leave that part of the history to others to debate.

Now the pleasant Skyline Drive winds peacefully along the length of the park, some 105 miles.  Elevation ranges from the valley floor at Front Royal or Luray (perhaps 1000’) to just over 4000, so many ecological zones are represented.  And the trails!  It’s an Ultrarunner’s paradise.

Today I want to focus on the critters: in the park you will see too many deer to count.  They are habituated to people and so can frequently be seen at close range.  They remain wild, yet accessible, almost the next natural hybrid progression beyond an open-range zoo.

While deer are common, the real prize is to see a black bear.  We go to Shenandoah at least once a year and we see bears about every other trip.  This time we saw two separate bears, a wonderful lesson for Mister Tristan (the 3 year old human being, not the blog) and Miss Doodybug.  Both sightings were at dusk, so no photos, but he kids will grow up with these memories and others yet to come when they carry on the tradition of bringing the next generation to Shenandoah.


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