Over the Labor Day weekend I was finally able to get out for a brief backpacking trip after rehabbing two bad knees since April and following foot surgery just two weeks ago. It is amazing how quickly the body FORGETS simple things like walking with a pack. This is my polite way of saying that making decent mileage wasn't my friend and I found it to be actually quite difficult to find my trail legs. I'm hoping they'll return soon as it is quite discouraging to be unable to do something I enjoy to the extent I feel I should be able to.
I'm fortunate because I live less than 30 minutes from the Appalachian Trail trailhead in Shenandoah National Park and the AT really never gets old to me as there is always something to see. I often get lots of questions from people who have never seen the AT. Although the attached videos are nothing to write home about, I wanted to show a couple things. First, wildlife is in abundance whether it is the deer (pictured) or an endless number of hawks, owls, butterflies, and all kinds of insects. Basically, the forest is definitely alive and there is never a quiet moment. The first video is of two bucks which were literally standing on the trail about 20 yards in front of me as I rounded a corner. They slowly migrated off to the underbrush as I fumbled to find my camera which meant they were mostly out of sight for a decent photo or video. About 30 yards from them I saw a black bear flipping over rocks looking for grubs, but the video isn't worthwhile to post due to the vegetation. The second video is merely a flat part of the trail that I decided to post principally because I constantly hear debates between tent/tarp supporters and hammock supporters about which system is better, especially for the part of the AT that goes through heavily wooded states like Virginia. The trail I walked today, with exception to the two huts I passed, was completely unsuitable for anything other than a hammock. Although the wildflowers throughout the park made the scenery nice, I started to think long and hard if I was ever going to find a place to stop that didn't require that I hang between two trees.