Just as the sun went over the blue horizon, we reached the summit where the most brilliant light threw color into the sky.
Named one of the “Seven Natural Wonders of the World,” Virginia’s Natural Bridge is a unique limestone arch that has towered 215-feet tall in the Shenandoah Valley for at least 500 million years.
“I can’t believe we made it and didn’t kill ourselves,” I told Andy.
“I can’t believe you made it and you didn’t kill yourself,” he said and he was right.
Another (smarter) couple had turned around before reaching this ridge-edge trail with ankle-deep ice-covered snow. But not us — We had kept going out of sheer determination and, sure, stupidity — but we had kept going.
After our cat walked one of the longest recreational bridges in America, Andy, Ly, and I set off for a historic tunnel that was the longest tunnel in America when it was built.
The snow made the air fresh and pure and so we continued on the Appalachian Trail, holding onto dreams that one day Andy and I will thru-hike this white blaze.
The calmness spread to our minds, bodies, and souls, and I learned — again — a valuable lesson. Mountain air is medicinal and so, with a deep breath, Andy and I found ourselves cured.
For a moment — for an afternoon — Andy and I were able to escape it all and simply take our cat on a leash for a walk in the mountains . . .
On this hike, we embraced the beauty, the impulsiveness, and the excitement, which is why — on the way back — our hearts beat to the rhythm of happiness and I found still more appreciation for nature . . .
Even though the distance covered was small and the vista not grand, that sensation of being in a forest — well, that is the sensation I chase. That is the sensation I seek.
The forest was all it promised — a beautiful, quiet place to seek solitude — and so we strayed along the waterfall for what felt like hours.
Despite feeling minuscule while walking, massive amounts of ground can be covered so that when standing back, the reward of physical exertion — of simply having a will and legs to carry that mental power — That reward is all that is needed to keep going.
Snaking through rhododendron and laurel tunnels, we were lead to eighty-foot tall granite rocks that overlooked a secluded part of the mountain’s forest.
“I’m so happy we eloped,” one of us said — It doesn’t matter who because we both felt that way. Eloping meant this — him and me, intertwined fingers, talking and truly seeing one another.
It is rare I’m willing to re-hike any trail; however, when it comes to the Three Falls hike, I vote the seventy-foot Dark Hollow Falls for its height and beauty.
People often talk of one of Shenandoah National Park’s most popular cascades: Rose River Falls. What they do not know though is that if you wander off trail and follow the river down, you will be rewarded with an even larger waterfall.