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Sky Meadows State Park

Hike Summary

This was not my first visit to Sky Meadows, but it is the first visit I have made since I started writing about my hikes.

The last time I hiked Sky Meadows, it was my first “serious” hike, after I got new hiking boots and a backpack, but before I got my Garmin etrex 20. It was actually this hike that inspired me to get a hand-held GPS, as using my mobile phone for navigation was something, I discovered, that was hazardous due to the short battery life.

It was also where I realized just how out of shape I was, and now I realize how far I’ve come in my fitness.

The first time I tried to hike this hike, the first hill, up Gap Run trail, absolutely killed me. I was barely able to get through, and ended up cutting my hike short, taking the North Ridge trail around and only hiking about half the distance.

What a difference 7 months makes. The hike up the Gap Run trail was still a bit of a lung burner, but I wasn’t gasping for air every 100 feet. It was a very very chilly day out, windy and cold, with a temperature of 14F with wind chill. I had to keep my jacket zipped up for the entire hike.

The trail winds uphill, past old ruins of a house, and then keeps going, with some nice views off to the west. I also saw a very unusual sight — a bright spot of green in an otherwise grey forest. A pool of water must be warmer than anywhere else, and the lush greenness really stood out to me.

On the trail wound, through some meadows, and then eventually junctioned with the Appalachian Trail. There was a bench where I was able to sit and have a little snack, and I finally saw some other hikers. They continued on up the AT, and I sat for a bit longer, sipping my tea and giving them time to build some distance on me.

I took the Old Appalachian trail side trip, and it was a nifty trail, with some snow still on the ground and nice views of I think Winchester through a clearcut section of forest. The trail wound on and rejoined the AT, and I hiked back up to the ridge.

There, I entered the high meadow sections, which were quite lovely after all the forest. I saw (but didn’t manage to get a photo of, sadly,) a herd of whitetail deer. They just quickly dashed through the meadow in front of me, causing me to pause and watch them run by, completely forgetting my camera in my bemusement.

Now it was time for some downhill bits of trail, and the ground had thawed enough somewhat that it made things a little slippery at times. As I was hiking, I encountered one of the oddest sights I’ve seen while out hiking: Another hiker, an older gentleman, who was so well dressed it completely took me off guard.

He was wearing hiking boots, as one obviously would need to, and I didn’t catch notice of his pants, but he was wearing a nice jacket and … a tie. Hiking while wearing a tie just seemed so strange to me. I was talking about it to my mom later that day and she commented that some people just like to be well dressed, no matter where they go.

I suppose this is true. It was very impressive. I wish that I could be that well dressed when I go hiking, but I end up looking like a mess most of the time, with my grubby jeans and my 3 sizes too many coat (losing 90 pound in a year has that effect, but it seems wasteful to buy a new one when this one is barely a year old.)

I hiked on, and nearer to the end of my hike, managed to accidentally flush a red fox, who quickly bounded away.

I kinda miss these hikes, with all the mileage building hikes I’ve been doing as training. I like to hike for enjoyment, and sometimes the other ones seem like more of a chore. I need to figure out a balance of entertaining and training, so that I can continue to post interesting posts and get the needed miles in.

2013-02-21 Sky Meadows
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