Labor Day 2007: Part I, Saturday
Spittler Knoll Overlook, Shenandoah National Park, 3,150 ft ASL. It was at this point that Confederate General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson marched 25,000 troops from Antietam to Fredericksburg in November 1862. Jackson would later be mortally wounded in the spring of 1863 at Chancellorsville and would die of pneumonia following the amputation of his arm. His arm lies buried outside Chancellorsville, while his body is laid to rest in Lexington, his hometown.
This weekend, I drove down to Lexington, Virginia, instead of fighting the masses going to the beaches. Rather than take I-66 to I-81 or I-95 to I-64, though, I decided to take the scenic route. Literally. To do that, I take I-66 West from Washington to Route 29. Then I go through Gainesville and Warrenton, where I take Route 211 and head up into the Shenandoah National Park, entering the park at the Thornton Gap Entrance Station (Mile Marker ~30)--2,304 ft above sea level.
Shenandoah National Park starts in the north at Front Royal and continues southward to Rockfish Gap--approximately 105 miles--where it meets up with the Blue Ridge Parkway. The highest point in the park is Hawksbill Peak, which tops out at 4,051 feet. The views and vistas are impressive and, when the colors change in the fall, Skyline Drive in SNP can be bumper-to-bumper with folks out to see nature's fireworks.
It takes about four hours to drive from Thornton Gap to Rockfish, but it's worth every mile. If you like hiking, the park is filled with trails and scenic views galore. There are also several camp sites and lodges. This past weekend, temperatures were easily 10 - 20 degrees cooler than the city, which made it a beautiful getaway.
Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential (09/07)