Monday–June 21, 2021
Location–Skyland Road North, Skyline Drive, then to Open Arms Hostel & Inn, Alison Coltrane, Proprietor, (Edge of Town) Luray, AT Mile 934.9
Two not so fun times today. First, saying farewell to T-Bone Walker right away this morning. He must return to his business responsibilities. Then, toward the end of the day today it’ll be goodbye time to Tulip.
Barry fixes coffee and breakfast for me, then we linger, not wanting to go, what with having to say goodbye to T-Bone. But the sad time comes–and we go. Barry finally has me on trail at eight.
For each segment of trail today there’s something that sets it apart. Unfortunately, rocks, rocks, and more rocks prevail, making for slow, dangerous passage. I remember (from years ago) the unique side-hill rock cribbing, work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) back in the 1930s. It made for easy, enjoyable hiking all along these steep mountains. The artful stonework (though aged and moss-covered) is still here, but the friendly-to-feet tread is gone. All that remains of the CCC cribbed trail is the riprap fill, baseball to basketball sized rocks, through which I must stumble along–the dirt tread long ago gone.
There’s a short blueblaze trail over to the beautiful old Big Meadows Lodge. Back in the early to mid 1930s a blight killed the chestnut trees everywhere. Apparently, in Virginia, near the Shenandoahs, the dead and dying chestnut were harvested and used in constructing the lodge, which was built in 1939 (the year after I was born). Chestnut has a unique color and grain, which makes the woodwork in Big Meadows Lodge so special. I’ve been here many times and always enjoy returning.
What a great time I’ve had hiking again with my dear trail friends from 1998. T-Bone managed to hike some with me, and Tulip has been out here the entire day. Late afternoon we arrive the parking area at Skyland Road North, my destination for today. More lingering, hesitant time. Some tears, a good hug, then a final goodbye–and Tulie is gone…
Some come into our lives then quickly go;
While others enter in and there remain.
Either way their presence strikes a glow,
And we are never quite the same again.