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Norman Schillawski
A Traveling Photographer
Living Life In An RV

Chimney Rock
Today's hike was to Chimney Rock in the Shenandoah National Park.  I started out from my rig a bit later than usual.  There was a light rain in the area but was looking like it would clear off.  Driving up into the mountains, I soon was above the rain and heading up Skyline Drive. I arrived at the Riprap parking area finding only two other cars.  It was going to be a quiet hike no crowds today!  Getting out my pack, I check the essentials, put my index card in the driver's window (tells where I am going and when I expect to be back) and I'm off.
It's starts off with a climb along the Appalachian Trail (A.T).  The trail is wide easy walking.  The air is clear with the scent of the morning rain.  As I hike up the ridge, I think of two of my sons (Ben and Matt) who have hiked the trail.  I smile as I think now I'm doing it too.  My mind wonders about the many who have hike the A.T. For the hikers, who hike the trail from one end to the other, they call them thru-hikers and have trail names. I think about Matt's nickname "Bravo". The trail is blazed with white stripes giving me the assurance as I see the marks on the trees that I'm on the right trail. As I reach the top of the ridge, the trail intersects with the Riprap trail with blue blazes.  I leave the A.T. and follow the park trail toward Chimney Rock.
The trail descends steeply and I thinking to myself it will be very interesting climbing on the way back.  As I descend a cool breeze brushes my face and I'm happy to have my wind breaker on.  A scent of pine fills the air.  The sun is out and clouds long gone as I descend.  The ridge blocks the breeze and the trail is quiet and still.  A large doe walks gently on to the trail and is surprised to see me.  I stop keeping my distance and speak softly to her.  I wait.  She slowly and cautiously goes across the trail watching me.  On the other side of the trail at the edge of the woods she stops and looks back.  I realize that she's not alone.  I think perhaps she has her offspring with her or perhaps maybe more deer are coming.  A long still moment seems like hours, then with a big crash another deer charges across to her and they bound away with their white cotton tails bouncing up and down over the brush.
I continue along the trail.  I come across a ridge of rocks large and going upward seemly to the sky.  I think about whether I have to hike up and through them. I spy the blue blaze the right and follow the trail around the ridge behind them and start an upward climb.  At the top of the ridge I descend to find a group of large boulders which are named Calvary Rocks.  I spend sometime attempting to photograph them but find the space too tight and could not do them justice with my camera.  I sit for a while taking in the enormous boulders and how they are amazingly stacked against and on each other.  My mind wonders and I think about the years they've been here.  I think about how I am just on this earth for just a moment as where here long before and will be here long after I am gone.
Off again the trail descends and then again rises.  At the top of each rise the air is like an AC unit blowing cool air.  The trail turns sharply and I arrive at Chimney Rock.  I sit on the edge looking out into the valley.  The view takes my breath away.  One feels like they are on top of the world.  The sun warms my face, the scents of the forest in the air, and the quiet serenity captures my soul.  My mind wonders how I could ever share this with you.  If you've never been in a place like this sadly you will never know the feeling, smell the air or enjoy the solitude without the noise of mankind. 
This thought haunts me as I make some photographs.  Sadly, I cannot add the beautiful smell of the fresh air, or add gentle sounds or a bumblebee in the flowers along the trail.
Web Site Updates
I have recently added two places I've been - Upstate South Carolina and Shenandoah.  I've also added and updated my work collections.  Do enjoy.
Visiting New York
Next I'm on my way back to Central New York to see many of you.  After that I'm off to Maine.

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