Fall in Virginia is a good time. The leaves can't touch those in northern New England, but they look nice all the same, the nights are cool and the days are warm...or mostly...but we'll get to that in a minute. It seems we've spent the better part of our October weekends exploring the western half of the Commonwealth--I'm beginning to think it is actually the better half. Needless to say, our outdoor monkeys have been happy to go along for the ride, even if saltiness was at a minimum.
And that brings us to the end of the month and our most recent exploits. Several months ago in a fit of needing to "get out," I booked the only available campsite for the only available dates at Douthat State Park in the very western part of the state. A friend of ours is from Bath County and we have heard how beautiful it is and I was eager to check it out for myself. Plus, the end of October promised nice weather and beautiful leaves. Well, we got one part of that right.
We stalled a bit, decided that we were not above, yet-again, skipping the Coleman stove breakfast in favor of the hot one the park restaurant could provide, and headed out. The food was simple, cheap, and the staff very willing to throw us a warm-beverage bone by filling up two thermoses and a travel mug--we liked that and left probably the largest breakfast tip ever, but full thermoses were worth it! By the time we finished up, the clouds were breaking and we had decided not to abandon our 7-mile hike up Beards Mountain, so went back to the campsite to pack our bag, don our boots, and have ourselves a little pre-hike pep rally of sorts.
It was a bit of a snowy walk, but nothing we weren't prepared to handle. In fact, it was beautiful, and as the sky continued to clear, we got some beautiful territorial views, made all the more scenic by the layer of snow blanketing them--and then it melted and the golden hues of fall took over. And in 7.1 miles, we saw one other group of people. Nice! This meant plenty of running for the furry friends, who are learning to be good trail citizens and have been practicing their "check-in" and "stay-close" commands, despite the lack of fellow travelers. They were in heaven, and didn't even mind being pelted by the occasional snowball. The fog rolled in and out, but all in all, it was turning out to be a nice day, albeit about 20 degrees cooler than we figured for this time of year! And the hills got the blood flowing and cold was no longer really a problem--funny how that works! The trails are very well maintained, so props to the park staff for that!
We enjoyed an afternoon relaxing by the fire, an early dinner (a KS camping favorite of pierogies--only more deluxe as they were accompanied by brats and rotkraut!) and a few hot toddies to cap off the night before snuggling back into our downy cocoon. Another successful adventure in a newly discovered area. Yea, adventures!