On the last day of 2019, December 31st, Birch and I arrived in Shenandoah National Park for an overnight backpacking trip. Neither of us could imagine a better way to bring in the new year. It was cold and gloomy but the weather forecast said that there was a zero percent chance of precipitation and we were well prepared for winter weather.
After getting our backcountry permit at the entrance, we parked at the Hogback parking lot (near mile marker 20) and hiked .4 miles on the Appalachian Trail before heading northwest onto the Tuscarora Overall Run Trail. This trail goes down in elevation – gradually at first but then makes some pretty steep descents. It passes trails to Matthew Arms Campground and then arrives at a beautiful 93 ft. waterfall called Overall Run. We stopped for water and to enjoy the view. This spot was about 3 miles into our hike and we were pleased with our progress.
We continued along the trail and continued to descend. At this point the winds began to pick up and the clouds began to darken. But the weather forecast said no rain? I was a little panicked because neither of us brought rain gear. A rookie mistake! Fortunately, there was no rain. Instead we encountered rugged switchbacks, reminding me how out of shape I was.
Finally, we reached the valley floor and followed the stream, crossing it a couple of times before we came to the Thompson Hallow Trail. It was around here that we saw a group of young adults out on a day hike. After passing the trail, we began looking for a camp site and found one to the right, just off the trail and near another beautiful waterfall. What a perfect spot to spend New Years Eve! We spent the afternoon drinking coffee and reading. At 4:30 pm we decided we better make dinner before it got dark. We were tucked into our sleeping bags and asleep well before midnight.
The next morning was CHILLY! Birch brought me coffee in “bed” and, after making oatmeal, we packed up and began our ascent. I was NOT looking forward to this, but it was a beautiful day and we took plenty of snack breaks. In no time we were close to the falls. We ran into a couple and their dog who seemed surprised to see us. Then, as it became later in the morning, we saw lots of people out for a “first day” hike.
This is a beautiful hike, although a bit strenuous for us since we hadn’t been hiking in a while. It is a great reminder of how fortunate we are to live so close to this amazing park.