Okay, I admit -- we did not "take a hike" to participate in National Hiking Day. Instead, we went to SNP for some star gazing.
A few weeks ago, I looked at the calendar and saw that a New Moon was occurring on November 15th. At that time, I booked a room at the park's Skyland Resort. Then, as we approached the date, some predicted bad weather meant cloudy skies and rain for Sunday night. Therefore, I moved our check-in date by one night. Much better weather was forecasted for the 16th, and I figured a sliver of moon wouldn't spoil our star gazing all that much.
Therefore, we drove to the park yesterday, hiked a WONDERFUL trail at Bearfence Mountain, watched the sunset at Timber Hollow Overlook, and then spent the early hours of the night in awe of a spectacular sky teeming with bight planets and stars.
Today, before we headed home, we walked a portion of the AT and then climbed to another spectacular summit with an almost 360-degree panoramic view of the park. Along the way, we were hit with a brief but furious snow flurry, the first snowfall (albeit very minimal) of the season.
At the right: Emily Dickinson's "The Hills erect their Purple Heads"
I suspect I've posted this poem before. I will say, though, that my wife and I had plenty of curiosity at the blue and purple ridge where we hiked. The trek to the summit of Bearfence Mountain now ranks as one of our favorites -- although it was a bit precarious as we crossed the rock scrambles at the top! It was worth it though. The views were spectacular (the pics below do not do the place justice).
By Emily Dickinson:
The Hills erect their Purple Heads
The Rivers lean to see
Yet Man has not of all the Throng
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By Emily Dickinson:
Nature rarer uses Yellow
Than another Hue.
Saves she all of that for Sunsets
Prodigal of Blue
Spending Scarlet, like a Woman
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly
Like a Lover's Words.
At the right: The sunset from Timber Hollow Overlook was spectacular. And -- as Emily Dickinson stated in her poem above -- nature saved all of its yellow for this sunset!
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We had a crystal clear night for star gazing. The slide show to the left includes a few screen shots from an app we used to identify the planets, stars and constellations.
1. Polaris -- the North Star -- in the Ursa Minor constellation (which includes the Little Dipper)
2. In the view with Venus, the Hubble Space station is shown to the bottom right.
3. Another unnamed satellite we stumbled upon.
4. Jupiter and Saturn rising with Capricorn.
5. Even though the sun had set, we used the app to find it below our horizon in the constellation Libra.
Note: Slide shows don't always work with Androids, so the pics are best viewed on a laptop, an iPhone or an iPad.
Below: A view from a summit just to the south of Bearfence Mountain from our hike today.
Below: As we hiked today, the sky turned somewhat purple and winds whipped up as we experienced a brief but furious snow flurry -- the first of the season.
At the right: While in Shenandoah National Park, we stayed at the Skyland Resort. Our room had a spectacular view.
NOTE: Slide shows like the one at the right do not always work on Androids. The pictures are best viewed from a laptop, an iPhone or an iPad.