With 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: