Back in late 2019 I decided that I needed to start hiking again. Out here in the boonies we don't have any sidewalks so just going for a walk was not an option. The road I live on has no speed limit - and some people take that as a challenge. It's not very busy but it is curvy and fast and walking along the road would be taking my life in my hands. I worry about going across the street to get the mail. I do live a reasonable distance to Skyline Drive and the many hikes there but I needed to get into shape first.
We do have a 500' driveway so I figured 5 times up and back was pretty close to a mile. Every day I went out and did 5 times up and back until I felt I could do a reasonably long hike without an issue. By this time it was winter and cold outside so I waited for it to warm up. And we all know what happened in early 2020.
First thing that happened was that everyone wanted to be outside and what better thing to do but go to Skyline Drive and hike. Then it became so crowded that they closed Skyline Drive. After a long while they opened it back up again for hiking but didn't open the bathrooms. My photo trips were now confined to how far I could go and get back home before I needed to go to the bathroom. I couldn't even count on gas station bathrooms because they were all closed. I can't drive 45 minutes and do a couple hour hike without planning at least one bathroom stop.
Finally they opened the bathrooms. I remember the first time I went in one, during the pandemic. I went in gloved, masked, and holding my breath after spraying everything liberally with Lysol. I was finally able to hike.
I chose Upper Hawksbill Mountain - the highest point on Skyline Drive. One side of Skyline Drive was bright blue sky. The other side looked like it was going to pour down rain any minute. It was also really windy. I almost decided not to hike. I needed a heavier coat than I had with me. I decided to give it a try. The book I had said it was an easy hike. All those walks up and down the driveway did not prepare me for that level of uphill. I was determined though and even though I had to stop and rest frequently I made it to the top. I was very grateful for the people on their way back down who encouraged me and told me I was almost there.
At the top the wind was blowing so hard that I didn't dare let go of my hiking poles to use the camera so I sat down on the rocks to take photographs. The storm coming in was beautiful. I got one image that worked - Tree Line.