Friday, on my way down to the Charlottesville area for the Virginia Native Plant Society annual get-together, I took a side trip to Shenandoah NP and a loop hike from the Doyles River parking area to Browns Gap and back. The Appalachian Trail in certain sections was almost completely overrun by smartweed.
I hadn’t planned on looking at butterflies, so I did not bring my field guides—and so I had some interesting (if common) lepids to look at. Making field notes and taking photos of what turn out to be Cabbage Whites and Eastern Commas is a character-building experience. What there was to see I did get good looks at, however, thanks to some new gear. I’m not given to fanboying about optics, but the close focus (50 cm!) on my new Pentax Papilio 6.5x21s is just awesome, and ideal for butterflies. These binoculars work fairly well over my eyeglasses, and I’m tempted to use these inexpensive field glasses as my all-around birding optics.
Doyles River itself was just a trickle, so I passed up a side trip to the falls. The PATC-mapped short circuit took me 2:40. The altimeter in my watch pooped out (low battery), so I’ll have to use the PATC’s estimate of a 900-foot elevation change; my sore muscles today will confirm that.