Just back from Charlotesville, where I attended the 50th birthday celebration of an old friend. He and I started the day on Saturday by meeting at White Oak Canyon in Shenandoah National Park and hiking the 7.3 mile circuit trail.
Because the Park Service parking lot was full, we had to pay $10 to park on the land of a neighbor, whose yard contained an interesting collection of Appalachian folk art.
It's a rigorous hike, up and down more than two thousand feet, but worth it. We were sitting by this pool on Cedar Run, watching trout swim lazily around, listening to an unseen raven croak. Then a big bird-shaped shadow passed over the water and I looked up to see the raven flapping over our heads. He gave us a friendly croak as he disappeared into the trees.
Waterfalls on White Oak Run.
Locals use the pools as swimming holes, and on this hot day many held bathers.
But they call these mountains the Blue Ridge because of the rain clouds that usually hover around their summits. Saturday one of those clouds turned dark as we headed back down and then unleashed torrential rain, through which we hiked the last mile and a half or so back to the parking lot. At first this felt good on such a hot day, but after my feet got soaked it was a chore. Still, it was an amazing day. Above, lower falls during the downpour.