Challenging One’s Self Strengthens the Soul

Today was a major feat. Tracy and I met up at 9am, had some breakfast and headed out west on 66 to hike through Shenandoah National Park. We drove about 70 miles before we exited in Front Royal. I had never driven through there and it was actually a cute little town. We wound our way up the hills, ears popping and all until we arrived at an overlook of Skyline Drive which was GORGEOUS.

Gorgeous views from Skyline Drive

Gorgeous views from Skyline Drive

We hit the public bathrooms so as not to have to pee in the woods, got a hiking map and made our way down a trail. As we were walking down, a family of four was walking back up, sweating buckets, which was not a good sign.

We made our way down hills for about a half a mile until we hit our first hill heading up. It was challenging to say the least, but it was just the beginning.

down, down, down the hill.

up, up, up the hill.

Tracy trekking up the hill.

Tracy trekking up the hill.

We hiked for about an hour, making it about 1.7 miles. It sounds like we walked so slow, but considering the hills and terrain, it was actually a good time. I got terribly turned around when trying to read the map, so thank god Tracy was there to actually interpret the map correctly.

Confusion takes over Natalie whilst reading the map...

Confusion takes over Natalie whilst reading the map...

Thank god for Tracy - Master Map Interpreter

Thank god for Tracy - Master Map Interpreter

We headed further down the path to complete our three mile circuit. We stopped to take a “funny” picture of Tracy pointing out that we were in fact on the correct trail.

Tracy pointing out the correct trail

Tracy pointing out the correct trail

As I was taking the above picture, I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. I took the picture and then glanced to my left. I noticed something black moving across the trail we were on about 40 yards away. Initially, I thought it was a big dog, but after a few minutes of not seeing owners, I realized it was not a dog. Tracy saw my blank stare and followed my gaze. I said simply, “uhh, is that a dog?” Then it turned. Not towards us, but to the side. We saw it’s ears…it’s large snout…it’s big belly…and it lumbering across the trail. We quickly realized we were in the presence of a medium sized Black Bear. My heart was racing and Tracy quietly said “Run! So with adrenaline pumping, we TORE down the hills we had just climbed, racing over rocks and rough terrain. I didn’t think I was even capable of running that quickly. We got about a half a mile away before we felt safe and realized what had just happened. What a memory.

We completed our 3 mile hike with smiles on our faces. We were hot, sweaty, tired, elated, and worked out in general. Thank god for whoever invented the “camelback.” Those backpacks with water were indeed a lifesaver. I don’t know that we’ll go back to Skyline Drive anytime soon, as I’m now scared of bears, but I do think we’ll hike in the area again. It was such a fun experience and challenge. It was out of both Tracy’s and my element so it was a challenge that we conquered together.

Tracy, excited to have conquered the hills!

Tracy, excited to have conquered the hills!

)

Me, proud to have completed the hike...and to have survived the bear. :)

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