Hike Thirty-three: Virginia’s White Oak Canyon

This trail story will be primarily through pictures instead of words because, to be honest, it was almost six months ago. When we did this hike, it was a frigid winter day. Water that once dripped out of sight between rocks now showed off in the most unexpected places and, because of this, we slowed our drive up the mountain. Icicles, layered one upon the other until it became a thick frozen mass, glinted in the sun.
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That ice greeted us on the trail too, so thick that even our footsteps did not shatter it.

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Our destination: White Oak Canyon, one of the most famous Shenandoah National Park waterfalls due to it having many small cascades and a total of six waterfalls ranging from thirty-five to eighty-six feet. Here are more details:

  • Four-point-eight mile
  • 1,200-foot elevation gain
  • Level Three of Five difficulty

Ironically its popularity had never driven us here, possibly due to its short distance. Today though, the hike sat waiting — perfect for cold weather due to the short distance — and we were ready for it. I had bundled up and was snug in my warmest layers: wool base layer, heavyweight flannel shirt, thickest wool sweater, and flannel-lined down vest.IMG_6669IMG_6663

I followed Andrew through the thinning green canopy, noticing how the sun no longer had to battle its way through the trees.IMG_6677IMG_6755In the winter, the forest felt more a graveyard with the dead scattered above the ground in the form of numerous fallen trees. As we walked by each, I looked at their rings of life, now faded.
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Unusual rock formations protruded from the ground so I, curious, went to investigate them before we moved closer to a creek.
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Once we crossed the creek, large boulders appeared, reminding me again — in the best possible way — that I am so infinitely small in forests.
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Water that once dripped down rocks now froze in beautiful hanging crystals.
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We followed the creek as it flung itself over the rocks and lead us to a beautiful waterfall . . .IMG_6775IMG_6776IMG_6809IMG_6816IMG_6817IMG_6788
Once there, we perched on the edge of this cliff, absorbing the view, absorbing nature and appreciating the time we had in solitude with each other.
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