The National Park Service has a campaign for their 2016 centennial celebration called “Find Your Park”". Whenever I see that sign I think of Shenandoah National Park - We just LOVE this park. It is almost like coming home – .
We finished setting up this morning and then walked down to the Visitor Center via the Story of the Forest trail. We talked with the rangers, picked up information, saw a movie, shopped a little and then made our way back to the campground via the paved trail.
Pictures from the trail:
There are so many deer in the park and they just stop and visit.
The bridge to the visitor center:
Isn’t he cute!:
In this park, we are able to get firewood in certain areas as long as the trees are down and dead. So with a map in hand, we found a great place and came home with quite a few logs.
The rest of the day we enjoyed the beautiful weather and the campfire. Our campsite:
This morning we decided to go on the ranger led “Meadow Walk”. The Big Meadows area is very unique in that it is a high mountain meadow wetlands – not found anywhere else in the world. They have found evidence of people using the meadow for farming and hunting as far back as 8000 years ago.
When the Park was formed this meadows was over 1000 acres. Today it is just over 100 acres. The forest has taken over much of the land and the park service manages the meadows by doing cutting and burning. It is divided into three areas and the area we went thru today was burned almost 5 years ago. The bushes and trees and slowly taking over.
We started our walk at the Visitor Center:
The view of part of the meadow:
Away we go:
These exposed rocks (basalt) are over 1 million years old.
The meadow is home to many birds, insects, and plants. This is the reason they want to preserve this meadow instead of letting nature take its course.
Some information from the internet:
“The Big Meadows area has the highest concentration of rare plants in Shenandoah National Park. Big Meadows is also the most visible and studied wetland at SNP. Two Mafic Fens (types of wetlands) contain globally rare plant communities believed to be endemic to the Park and support eight state rare plant species. The Meadow also supports an abundance of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects, some of which are not found elsewhere in the Park. A state listed snake, a rare insect, and several salamander and bird species are among the animals that occupy the Big Meadows wetland areas.
One such high-value area, the Big Meadows Swamp (BMS, or Swamp), is a 20 acre wetland located between the Big Meadows Campground and Skyline drive. Officially termed a "fen", the Big Meadows Swamp (BMS) is a wetland fed by groundwater rich in calcium and iron. The nutrient rich waters of the BMS combine with other site characteristics such as the geology, elevation, and environmental conditions to form an environment that supports the extremely rare Northern Blue Ridge Mafic Fen plant community. This vegetation community contains the highest concentration of rare plants per unit area within the entire park, and is found nowhere else in the world besides Big Meadows. “
We left the meadows and walked to the Weakly Homestead where we learned all about the Weaklys and their lifestyle.
Our last stop on the walk was the area of Camp #2 of the CCC where 150 boys helped build this part of Shenandoah National Park. Overall there were six CCC camps in the park with about 150 boys each.
As we made our way back to the Visitor Center, a talk on the deer in the park was just starting. We found ourselves a seat and learned all about the cycle of life for the deer in the park. Very interesting. Currently there is no management program as they let nature take its course but the concern now is that the wasting disease that has hurt the deer population is closing in on the park deer. The disease has been found 12 miles from the park so they are now tracking the range of the deer. Scary..
We had a great lunch at the Wayside near the Visitor Center then made our way back home. I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to get caught up on the blog – I am getting really lax – sorry.
Our Bella enjoying the outdoors:
We enjoyed another evening cooking supper over the fire and watching the flames die down as the darkness came.
October 22, 2015
I am currently at the Big Meadows Lodge getting caught up on the blog and emails and checking out our next stop while Andy is filling our water tank. We will be here until Monday and then ????
So stay tuned and enjoy today.