Saturday, March 25, 2023

Star Party at Staunton River State Park


We arrived at Staunton River State Park Friday evening about 7am and setup our tent for the night. As soon as we finished setting up our camp we ate some dinner we had picked up from KFC.



We left for the field where the Star Party was to take place as soon as we finished eating. It was getting dark and clouds had moved in while we got our name badges. We stopped at the first booth and watched a slide show of photos taken with a telescope and listened as he explained what we were looking at. We moved down the end of the field to the last guy and the clouds were starting to break up. We used his scope to see the moon as it peeked in and out of the clouds. We started up the back row and as we talked to the first guy there, and he started showing us constellations, the clouds dissipated and the sky opened up. As the evening progressed, we viewed several scopes and was able to see different views of the moon, Venus and other celestial bodies. The last booth had the largest scope and we viewed galaxies. My favorite was the Orion Nebula! We see Orion's Belt here but it is actually a Nebula with many stars in it. We made our way back to the campsite after 9pm and made ready for bed.


The next morning I was up early and made some coffee. I read for about an hour and had 3 cups of coffee and it started getting light. Oh yeah, Happy was not able to make this weekend, so his little brother came along. 


Before breakfast, I took down the tent and packed everything in the car. For breakfast, we had Peak Refuel Breakfast Skillet with Spinach wraps. 


The Peak Refuel Breakfast Skillet has enough in it for two people to have one serving each. It actually tasted good and it kept us full until lunch.


During breakfast we witnessed a beautiful sunrise and on the way home we stopped by Amy's grandparents home.


Friday, March 17, 2023

Hanging Rock State Park

The Drive to the Park

We left home about 8:30 AM and hit the road to Hanging Rock State Park. We were about halfway there when it started lightly raining. We drove through some beautiful country and arrived at the park about 9:45 AM. We entered the Visitor Center and talked to the gentleman sitting at the information counter, and he wanted to know what we wanted to do. I explained that the rock (main attraction) would be nice, but he explained the views today would be bad due to the weather. I mentioned we had already hiked that area and the Cascade Falls trails, the last two visits we made. He suggested we take the Cooks Wall Trail and visit Wolf Rock and House Rock. The distance is about the same and the views were great. We decided to take his advice and headed out to start our hike.

The Hike


We drove to the Picnic Shelter/Swimming Area Parking Lot and parked, there was no one else there. We put on our coats and slickers, it was cold, windy and raining. After following the lake, the trail turns up the mountain and it is uphill for about 1 mile. 

After we made the top of the hill, the trail split left and right. We went left to go and see Wolf Rock. Along the way we saw several unique rock formations and here is one of them. It looks like one flat rock stacked on top of another, and there was a small cave opening under the rocks.


We soon arrived at Wolf Rock and I ventured out on the rocks. The wind was really gusting and the rocks were wet, you had to be very careful. Mrs. C. would not venture out, she does not do well with heights and wind.





We left Wolf Rock and backtracked to the trailhead and this time we went right and followed the white diamond blazes (trust the blaze, more on that in a minute). It took us about 30 minutes to hike to House Rock, it was much bigger than Wolf Rock. I was able to get Mrs. C to venture out on these rocks though and we caught some great camera shots.



We decided to go ahead and finish out the trail by going to Cooks Wall, which added an extra 2 miles to the hike. The wind on the left side of the ridge was terrible and blowing fog around like it was smoke. Our right side was calm and had very little wind and clear, it was just amazing to see this first hand. There was not much to see at the end due to the heavy cloud cover, but had my picture taken there anyway.

We left and headed back the way we had come, and here is where the importance of trusting blazes come in. We came to a split in the trail and I followed the white diamonds like we should and I was convinced we were going the wrong way. We had gone about 1/4 mile down hill and I decided to go back and make sure we were going the right way. We headed back up the hill and once we were at the top, I discovered the blazes were right and I was wrong. Therefore, we went back down the hill for the second time and after going a little further than we had the first time, we were both confident we were on the right path. 


When we were near the end of the trail, we received a video call from our daughter and granddaughter. That was a special treat. 

Our Hike Statistics (thanks to G-Shock)


  • We meet 3 other hiking groups on our trek.
    • 1 runner that was getting it up and down the trail, we were jealous.
    • A group of young folks, about 8 of them, were standing at House Rock talking and taking pictures. 
    • Two gentlemen were starting up when we were coming down the mountain. They wanted to know how much farther, we told them it was a ways to go.
  • I forgot gloves, should have had them in my pack.
  • Pack sandwiches next time, do not depend on snacks.
  • Need to hurry and get my hiking shoes.

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