|Herb looks over the Shenandoah Valley|
Last Sunday was a rare, near-record warm winter day--almost 70 degrees! Such weather was too good to waste, so Herb and I drove up to Skyline Drive for the afternoon. We parked at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center lot (the visitor center was closed) and took the Fox Hollow Trail down a hill on the east side of the mountain. At the lower part of the trail there is an old cemetery and several large rock piles that must have been part of an old homestead before this became a national park. There were only two gravestones, and it was not until we saw the names on the them that we realized that the trail had been named after the Fox family's homestead, not the animal which we see infrequently around here and our hunt country residents love to chase.
It was so warm we shed our coats and wool scarves on the trek back up the hill. There was not much in the way of wildlife to observe--a family we passed told us they'd seen some woodpeckers up the hill, but by the time we got back up they were gone. I spotted some feathers and remains of a small woodpecker on the ground--a hawk must have made a meal of one of the birds a few days before, as the feathers on the muddy ground were matted.
Low clouds washed like an ocean around the mountain tops to the east when we started our hike but by the time we returned the skies were starting to clear. We decided to drive on a bit farther and stop at a few of the overlooks nearby to prolong the outing.
It was great fun to survey our new home here in the Shenandoah Valley from above. We lingered at Signal Knob Overlook watching the play of light and shadow across the landscape as the clouds opened up here and there. The sun lit parts of the valley casting the hills in sharp relief while other parts remained in shadow; a glider soared silently near Signal Knob. I wished I'd had my kit and the time to paint this drama, but the light changed so quickly, that would have been impossible anyway. It was enough for now to be able to enjoy and photograph it, perhaps for later use.