Shenandoah National Park

The Shenandoah has been a very special place for Maureen and I since 1987. We've hiked countless trails and trekked through many, many sites and long abandoned homesteads. The wildlife, vistas and history give the Shenandoah a unique character. I've been drawn to the park in a mystical way since I first traveled "up" the valley on Interstate 81 in 1972. In fact my first glimpse was driving at dawn as the sun rose over the mountains. It wasn't until after we started visiting the park that I learned my Great-Great Grandfather, James Jackson had served in the 1st West Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War and had fought in battles throughout the valley including Cedar Creek, Waynesboro, Winchester and others....later he was wounded in a skirmish fought at Brown's Gap...a one time highway that crosses the Shenandoah Park. James continued to serve until the end of the war and was present, serving under General George A. Custer at Appomattox Court House when General Lee surrendered...all before his 18th birthday.       

One of the most unique qualities of the Shenandoah is that until its establishment as a National Park, it was inhabited. People lived and died, raised families, worked, planted and mined. These people were "relocated" when the park was created. If you look carefully echoes of their lives are everywhere. Orchards and homesteads, and scattered about are the traces of life...tools, pottery...even old cars....and cemeteries. But its not about the relics...its about the people and the life that is no more. And always the breathtaking beauty. 

 


June, 2001

 

In January of 2001 Nikki's husband Dan was teaching in Kettering, Ohio when he began organizing a field trip for his students . It took months of work by Dan, Nikki, his fellow teachers and his students but by June, thirteen students accompanied by a few dedicated volunteer parents and teachers arrived in the Shenandoah National Park to begin a week of exploration, hiking and camping. I had hiked in the Shenandoah and on the Appalachian Trail many, many times over the preceding fifteen years. So I had volunteered to act as the group's guide. This was a special group of students, parents and teachers. They worked hard to make the trip possible and when they arrived they enjoyed themselves thoroughly....They immersed themselves in the experience. I will always remember these very special people with great fondness. Since this trip I have never looked at life the same way..... 

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