We just carved out (as we try each summer) a couple days for hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. This pictured gnarly tree stands in front of the lodge at Big Meadows which has always been our home base. There are pictures when Megan is so young she can barely touch the branch with her arm extended up. <grin> In fact there is old 8mm footage of me barely tall enough to touch the branch, as my parents always came her for family hiking.
Hiking to the top of Stoney Man Mountain has always been a key tradition. In the mid 90’s Megan and I reached the summit to witness the first successful fledging of peregrine falcons from a nest in the Shenandoah since they had been wiped out due to DDT over 30 years earlier. It was the most beautiful and savage display of raptor artistry you could imagine.
(Whether in a Pokemon t-shirt or a rock band hat, your child’s smile through the years can dwarf the natural majesty of a summit.)
A piece of me has always held that day of the falcons as an omen on the need for parenting to find a way regardless of the obstacles. Our visits are also timed with the peak season when fawns begin to step out into the world around them, again more of the timeless passage of experience through interaction.
The National Park Service deserves repeated applause for their accessibility efforts. Not far from Big Meadows Lodge is the Limberlost Trail, a beautiful and completely accessible hiking/rolling trail. Their tireless efforts enabled us to extend Patti’s involvement, in past years, far longer than we could have hoped and enable so many people and families to enjoy our American treasures.
Megan was in charge of deer photography and with a soon to be college student’s sense of art, we leave you with this charming invasion of deer privacy.