Tag Archives: blue ridge parkway

Writing prompt: Feeling spooked while camping

Time: 7 minutes. Click here to go to my list of prompts.

“Feeling spooked while camping”

I’m not really a camper. But still, I couldn’t turn down an invite from a friend to go camping in the newly opened Blue Ridge preservation area. Even with trees designed to sequester radiation, no one but researchers and workers had been allowed in for nearly 200 years, after the one that missed DC. Now my researcher friend had passes for the soft opening, and what could I say? The Appalachian Mountains were nearly 500 million years old, and I’d never seen them except in pictures of spooky decaying ruins—Monticello falling into the Earth and the old Blue Ridge Parkway cracked beyond recognition in some vids online.

Jaden set up the tent. He’d camped before, but not in this area of course. Tonight and this week, 500 people tested the park, carrying dosimeters and basically giving things one last look-over. I helped Jaden build the fire that night, and I imagined eyes watched us from the trees. I’m sure they weren’t, and I focused instead on what a tricky cooking medium fire and charcoal could be. I couldn’t even tell the cooking temperature.

Insects began as twilight grew deeper, unnerving and yet exciting. These must be the eyes I imagined watching me.


The Blue Ridge Parkway


The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long, connecting Shenandoah National Park and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It is managed by the National Park System, though it is not a national park itself. Still, it has been the most visited part of the National Park System every year for over 50 years.

This weekend, I drove and hiked along a portion of it between Vesuvius and Roanoke, Virginia. It rained last week, so the vegetation was especially lush and the waterfalls especially spectacular.SONY DSCCrabtree Falls bottom-most waterfall, off mile marker 30 of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Highway 56, which leads to Crabtree Falls, is a beautiful drive whether you go east of the Parkway or west. We stayed in a cabin near these falls, and at night, we could hear the water rush.

SONY DSCThe James River.

SONY DSCOverlooking Buena Vista, Virginia shortly before sunset.

SONY DSCFurther into sunset near Buena Vista, Virginia.

SONY DSCVegetation approaching the Apple Orchard waterfall trail.

SONY DSCBlooming azalea bushes lined the trail to Apple Orchard waterfall.

SONY DSCApple Orchard waterfall near mile marker 78 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

SONY DSCAnother waterfall on the Crabtree Falls trail. In 1.5 miles, you can see 4 different falls, though on the weekends it can be somewhat crowded. We went on Monday and shared the path with a different and slightly-too-exciting crowd: a rattlesnake and a six-foot long black snake. Nature!