Saturday was a volunteer work day at Shenandoah National Park, cut short by thunderstorms that rolled through mid-day. There was an hour of schmoozing before we actually got working: I got to meet the superintendent of the park and some other good folks. I’ve never seen so many green uniforms in one place before. In the end, we put paid to several patches of Garlic Mustard.
So, in order to make Saturday not a bananas early drive, I booked a room in Luray for Friday night and planned a little hike for that afternoon. Really, the point of the hike was to find out whether I can still handle the trail from the gap up to the Hawksbill Mountain summit, and I am glad to say that I can. It took me an hour to ascend the ca. 690 feet. Another 2:15 for a lunch break, return by the Salamander Trail and Appalachian Trail, and several photo stops. Figure about twice as much time (3:15) as it took me back in October 2009 to cover the 2.9 miles.
Unplanned observations included quite a bit of the uplands’ signature trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), a polypody that I’m hoping for an ID confirmation, and a seen-heard-but-not-photographed American Redstart (Setophaga ruticilla). I packed my camera with the long lens but decided not to carry it on the trail. Good call, considering all.