Thursday, February 16, 2017

Waterfalls and Wildflowers? Cedar Run and White Oak Canyon

A friend was in town from Oregon last weekend and had a free day, so we took her out Shenandoah National Park and hiked the Cedar Run, Hawskbill, White Oak Canyon loop. It is a nice ten-mile loop that shows off some of the best of the park: big waterfalls, the highest peak in the park, and it has enough climbing to be a good workout. I feel like we've been to White Oak Canyon countless times, but looking back through the blog and my photos, I hadn't been since 2011 and Michael hadn't been since 2009. It was nice to see all of the waterfalls again.

The weather was perfect: sunny and in the high 40s. For much of the climb up Cedar Run, we were protected from the wind, so it felt pretty warm. It had rained earlier in the week, which meant the waterfalls were running well. We ate lunch just before we got to Skyline Drive. That was our first taste of the wind. We all got cold pretty quickly. The walk up to the top of Hawksbill warmed us back up, but it was pretty windy and cold up there. We took a few pictures and headed back down the mountain. We crossed back over Skyline Drive and picked up the fire road that connects to the White Oak Canyon Trail. We had a nice walk down past all of the big waterfalls. Since it was too cold to swim, it wasn't terribly crowded.

 The waterfall at the first crossing of Cedar Run. It was a little bright to try to shoot smooth waterfalls, but this one didn't turn out too badly.
 The pool below the waterslide on Cedar Run. The water was so clear on Saturday that you could see the bottom of the pool
 Old Rag from the top of Hawksbill. It was a little hazy.
 Our party on the summit of Hawksbill.
 A small cascade on White Oak Creek
 One of the larger falls on White Oak Creek.
 Lower White Oak Falls
Anemone americana (Round-Lobed Hepatica) blooming. On February 11th. In the mountains. This is easily a month, possibly more like six or seven weeks, early. This is the clearest indication that we haven't actually had winter this year. According to Capital Weather Gang, in the DC area, we had a 19 day stretch in January where the temperature didn't drop below freezing. I'm sure it was colder in the mountains, but it has clearly still been unusually warm.

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