Yesterday, I took my son Jack and my nephew Jake (from Florida) on one of my favorite hikes: Little Devil’s Staircase. Located in Shenandoah National Park, it is a tough hike up a gorge with wonderful waterfalls and rock scrambles. It was raining when we arrived, which is not ideal due to the risk of slipping and the water pouring down the trail. However, the rain and misty conditions added to the size of the waterfalls and made the hike even more beautiful than usual.
The hike has my preferred profile: the hard part is at the beginning with a two mile steep ascent and then becomes an easy descent. You crossed the creek repeatedly and, with the high water, it was a tad precarious at points and we had to go off trail a couple times. You end up in the Bolen cemetery, a sad and slightly spooky spot in the fog surrounded by a hemlock forest (with old stones showing the high mortality rate among children and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries).
It was glorious and we did it in only three hours (due largely to the pace set by my two teenage companions). Here are a few pictures: