A November Morning On Little Devil’s Staircase

IMG_1636With temperature dropping around the country, I decided to grab what might be the last perfect day for a hike yesterday and went to the Shenandoah to tackle the Little Devil’s stairs and some surrounding trails. It was glorious.

The hike is one of my favorite. It is very steep for the first two miles and you can then take trails for another 5-7 miles. In my case, I got lost and did a couple extra miles (crossing the Appalachian trail) but I was able to run into two huge bucks high in the mountains. They are amazing with large racks and beautiful coats. It was worth the extra hike.


You finish the hike at the little Bolen family cemetery in the middle of the woods. I am alway drawn to one gravestone. It belongs to Emily Burke and her children and captures just how hard this life was for people, particularly women. Emily died on March 8, 1928 at age 34. She died just months after giving birth to her daughter who herself died just a few months later. Emily’s son lived only a few weeks. Her life must have been terribly difficult and highlights the sentiments of a rather sad poem that is on a stone in the center of the graveyard. It is a poem by Wayne Baldwin that ends:

To tell of a people who once resided on this land,
who toiled, labored, loved, laughed and cried,
having their lives altered by a ‘plan’ . . .
Out from the protection of the hollows and vales,
out onto resettlements or to properties that their pittance procured at sales,
looking over their shoulders with tears in their eyes,
pitifully departing their old homes among the skies . . .
Leaving familiar sights, their homes and their burial plots,
most left begrudgingly for some low country spots.
The blue of the mountains is not due to the atmosphere,
it’s because there is a sadness which lingers here.


Here are some of the pictures from the hike:





9 thoughts on “A November Morning On Little Devil’s Staircase”

    1. I spent the day with my husband, a veteran. He hates it when I’m on the Internet so much! We plan to sit our family down and give them a history lesson. So much left out of books now. And we want them to know the truth. Maybe we’ll video it. Wonderful film, Thai you!

  1. Sandi, I grew up in Ct. That’s where I got my love of cemeteries and the history they provide. The ones in the Midwest and West where I now live aren’t as old, but still fascinating to me. I was in Huntsville, Alabama last week and walked through a slave cemetery. It’s up on a hill in a nice spot, very well maintained.

  2. When we lived in CT we loved wandering through old cemeteries. A family’s history was usually there. In Stonington there is a large cemetery beautifully taken care of with a patriarch surrounded by many wives and tiny markers of the child who died shortly after the mother. Some of his children survived, but no wife. There were several family plots that told a story of a family. Today we scatter all over. Sad that my family’s story can never be imagined as those in Stonington.

    I do enjoy your pictures. Especially these in the fall. I live in CA now and those spectacular colors of fall are rare.

  3. Love these hike posts. Cemeteries are one of my favorites. I will often stop when walking or driving. I also use cemeteries as cover for surveillance. Spent many an hour doing surveillance feigning bereavement. I once walked up to a caretaker who was doing lawn work to ask him permission to park. He had on ear protection so when I came up on him I startled him and he jumped a foot. I guess he was not totally comfortable amongst the dead.

  4. Then there’s Ice Climbing 101. A little workout, then back to a warm fireplace and some Irish Coffee.

  5. do you take these pictures because they are pretty or because you need a break?

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