The grand finale to our camping season was a “fall foliage” trip to Loft Mountain in Shenandoah National Park. We scheduled this trip months ago, planning to visit the park with the foliage at its peak- just like last year! Mother Nature had something else in store, though. The weather in September was beautiful and downright hot! Without chilly nights, the leaves were not cued to change, thus, a green “fall foliage” weekend. Jon and I were a bit disappointed to show up early for the party but knew we wanted to make the best of our last camping weekend of the season!
Jon planned a hike from our campsite and it was a perfect loop. Around 4 miles in the cloudless sunshine to Loft Mountain peak was a great way to spend our afternoon after setting up camp. The loop was partially on the Appalachian Trail, went up to the summit of Loft Mountain and brought us back to the campground. Naturally, Penny made friends the entire way and someone offered to take her home (no thanks)!
Since our hike didn’t take all day, we decided this was a great opportunity to go see the sunset and sunrise. This time of year is ideal to catch both since the sun sets earlier in the evening and rises later in the morning (that fits into Penny’s sleep schedule perfectly). We drove to the sunset at Rockytop Overlook and were amazed by the crowd but not deterred- the sunset was beautiful! I especially love the hints of foliage in the foreground- we could tell the foliage burst was just days away!
We jumped into the truck once the sun had set and happened to hear on the radio about the Hunter’s moon rising. We quickly relocated to an eastern-facing overlook to catch the moon rise. Man, was it spectacular! Our camera does it no justice (can’t wait for our zoom lens to arrive)! It was huge, bright and had an orange glow (hello Great Pumpkin!). What a stunner and total surprise!
Once we returned to the campsite Penny went to sleep and we relaxed around the campfire (Last Leaf in hand). The moon was glowing all night and was extremely bright! We went to bed early to make sure we’d be up for the sunrise.
We woke up at 6 before our alarms (why can’t we do that during the week?!) and snuggled in our warm sleeping bags until 6:20. We jumped into the truck and drove to the Ivy Creek Overlook on Skyline Drive to find some amazing color! What Mother Nature left out in foliage she made up for in this sunrise! We snuggled and watched the color change as the world came to life. I love this picture of Penny and I because it looks like she’s telling me a secret. 🙂
She was actually just whining to tell me she wanted breakfast. I tell you, this sassy girl does not divert from her daily routine! Jon and I enjoyed the sunrise while Penny enjoyed her breakfast. Jon’s favorite part was seeing the mist in the valley below. I loved seeing the color from the sky slowly sink into the foreground like watercolors. Sunrises are so hopeful and magical. As the sun rose, Jon spied the Hunter moon setting to the west. On our way back to the campsite, we stopped to see the moon set and were met with another awesome view. This trip sure was filled with unexpected surprises!
It was a fantastic weather weekend in SNP and, as usual, the views did not disappoint. As much as Jon and I hate the crowds, I feel we somehow dodged them this weekend. I’d say setting and rising with the sun made for a perfect, fall weekend.
K, J & P