Winter weather has the tendency to keep us inside and away from the great outdoors until the thaw of springtime. Well, for me anyway, I’m a wimp in the cold and admire those who get out in the duck blind during the coldest months.
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But after a busy holiday season full of long work hours, the woods were calling and I needed a fix.
To mark the new year, I packed 2 coolers full of food, extra blankets, our warmest gear and headed out to the Shenandoah Valley with my husband. The dog, of course, came, too.
The forecast for the weekend was an extra frozen high of 10 degrees, but we figured the log cabin we rented would keep us warm. We left early Friday afternoon so we could take advantage of seeing the farm country along the way. It was beautiful as usual.
The Shenandoah is a large, 200-mile long valley that sits between 2 of the East Coast’s most famous mountain ranges: the Blue Ridge and Appalachians. The Appalachian Trail, which spans from Georgia all the way to Maine, runs right through it and hikers on their journeys can be found throughout the spring, summer and fall. The name “Shenandoah” comes from the Native Americans, who settlers met after leaving Great Britain for a new world in the 1600s. It is also home to 2 major rivers, the Potomac and the James, which cut through the thick foliage and granite along the banks.
America’s rich history can be found here, starting before the American Revolution and moving through the Civil War. After all, Virginia was the first official colony in America.
“Native Indians detailed to the first Englishmen arriving on American soil in the 1600s of vast herds of grazing animals and endless forests of American trees including Chestnut Trees, many 600 years old and 100 feet high,” First Settlers History claims. “For thousands of years the American Indians had thrived in the bountiful Shenandoah Valley hunting ground, later trading highly valued furs to be worn in Europe.”
We arrived at our cabin just before dusk. It was tucked away down a driveway with a fire pit outside, making it “our kind of place.” We visited the tiny welcome lodge at the entrance, where we bought local, homemade cheese, blueberry jam and Virginia wine. It was so good, we did this twice.
The next day we woke up early to blue skies and crisp air, which was a pleasant surprise since January is often grey and damp.
We hopped in the Jeep and headed to Shenandoah National Park, which was just around the corner from where we were staying. The frigid temperatures kept us from hiking, but the many views of Skyline Drive provided the outdoor fix we were looking for.
Along the usually crowded road, we found leaves frozen in the snow that had fallen in the days before we arrived. It was quiet and we practically had the place to ourselves. Waterfalls on the sides were frozen over and the Blue Ridge Mountains could be seen clearly in the distance.
Half-way through our 3-hour drive, we spotted a heard of whitetail deer. Some were bedded and others were feeding before dark.
Not everyone lives in a place that experiences 4 seasons. I am grateful that we do and can even appreciate the unique glory winter has to offer, especially after our frozen Shenandoah weekend.
Katie Pavlich is passionate about shooting and hunting. She’s also an advocate of the Second Amendment over at Townhall.com and FOX News. View all posts by Katie Pavlich