Monday, September 10, 2012

Day 2 - Shenandoah National Park Vacation

Shenandoah National Park Vacation
Day 2
Group hike to Hazel Falls (aka Cave Falls)
Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

As usual, I was the first one to get up, so I grabbed the camera and tripod to see if I could catch a sunrise.  It was a bit foggy, but there still ended up being some really great color in the sky!






After a quick breakfast, we decided to take Marielle and Liam on their first ever hike!  So we all piled into my brother's SUV for the drive into Shenandoah National Park.

We decided on the hike to Hazel Falls (aka Cave Falls).  Bill and Michelle thought it sounded like something the kids could handle and it was fairly close to our cabin.  While the hike is rated relatively easy, it is 5.4 miles round trip and I wasn't quite certain the kids could handle that distance.  Plus the weather forecast was for almost certain rain.

Despite that, we still hit the trail!

Liam and Marielle

Bill and Michelle

The first two miles is a gradual descent of about 600-feet in elevation, meaning we would have to regain that elevation on the way out.  Liam had a bit of trouble starting out, falling about 5-6 times on the rocky trail.  My brother Bill was tempted to turn back, but Liam eventually got the hang of things.

 Hiking down the trail


The last quarter mile down to the river was a much steeper descent than anything I was expecting!  Fortunately, it was a well designed trail and we were all able to make it down without any issues.

The final descent

Hazel Falls was a nice little waterfall, but nothing spectacular.  And It could definitely have used a good bit more waterflow (this would turn out to be a reoccurring theme throughout the week!).

Me at Hazel Falls (aka Cave Falls)


Despite the less than impressive waterfall, this was still a really cool spot with several caves around the waterfall to explore!

 The whole gang inside one of the caves

 Marielle and Michelle exploring a cave

We spent a good bit of time hanging out, taking photos, and exploring around the caves before starting the hike back out.

 Jack and Amy

 Brothers!

 Liam and Marielle

 My brother Bill and his family


The hike was all uphill, but the kids did much better as it is easier to maintain balance going up!  As for the rain we were expecting, it only sprinkled a few times, but no heavy downpours like I was expecting!

The 5.4 miles turned out to be a good distance for their first hike.  Liam and Marielle were definitely wearing down by the end, but were able to complete the hike with just a few minor bumps and scrapes on the knees!


Our cabin was located about a mile away from Luray Caverns and we thought about making an afternoon visit there, but after driving by the overflowing parking lot and lines of people waiting to get in, we decided to save that for the next day!

Instead we had another nice afternoon and evening hanging out around the cabin.









The complete set of photos from Day 2 is posted here:
http://family.webshots.com/album/583369755LALOSB

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