John Muir’s best-known quote is, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Living in close proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains–and with easy access to both the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway–we answer that call frequently!
We left late in the afternoon and didn’t really have time to do a long drive, so we opted to go on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Reids Gap, then come back home via the Rockfish Valley. It’s a very familiar route, but one we always enjoy! (Link to an interactive map is here.)
Some people go to the mountains to see wildlife, but this is what we saw on the other side of our driveway as we were leaving. 😉
Once we got on the Parkway, we stopped at the Rockfish Valley overlook. The clouds were pretty impressive, especially the big one in the center. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was going to be a cloud kind of day. 🙂
Zooming in with our cameras, we could see the Sentara Afton Family Medicine building on Rt. 151, and a bit of the Hebron Baptist Church Cemetery.
There were lots of milkweed plants and pods at the overlook. The pods weren’t quite ready to burst open to release their seeds and fluff, but a number of milkweed bugs were feasting on the juices.
We continued driving south on the Parkway, enjoying the views of the Shenandoah Valley, along with glimpses of changing leaves. Summer is certainly winding down….
We stopped at the Humpback Rocks Picnic Area (milepost 8.5), and feeling somewhat adventurous, we decided to walk up the short trail to the overlook. Unlike the long, steep climb up to Humpback Rocks, this is an easy trail, only about 1/4 of a mile long.
At the overlook:
An Eastern Wood Pewee paused long enough for me to get a quick picture.
On the far side of the Shenandoah Valley are the Allegheny Mountains.
Starting back down the trail, we saw asters and tree spirits. 🙂
A section of the 2190-mile long Appalachian Trail crosses through this area, and we paused to take a quick picture on one of the trail markers when we got back to the parking area. Running from Maine to Georgia, the Appalachian Trail is the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, with over 3 million visitors each year.
As we continued south on the Parkway, beams of light were shining through the clouds into the Shenandoah Valley to our west.
Equally pretty were views to the east. These pictures were taken at the Three Ridges overlook.
Just before turning off the Parkway at Reids Gap, we saw another cluster of asters by the side of the road….
Route 664 (Beech Grove Road) twists and turns its way down the mountain into the Rockfish Valley. This picture was taken near the entrance to the Wintergreen Resort.
Once we reached the valley–and really for the rest of the trip home–we marveled at the clouds, and at the interplay of light, shadows, and colors. Such a beautiful day….
I started this post with the quote by John Muir (1838-1913). Muir’s work is as urgently relevant today as it was during his lifetime. He was an advocate for the preservation and protection of wilderness areas, and among his many accomplishments, he and his supporters founded the Sierra Club. Its mission?
“To explore, enjoy and protect the planet. To practice and promote the responsible use of the earth’s ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out those objectives.”