A.T. State by State – Northern Viginia

HikeItForward-Final-MediumIn northern Virginia, the Appalachian Trail follows a long, low ridge, including the strenuous, 13.5- mile “roller-coaster” section from NOBO mile 989 to mile 1002.5. Northern Virginia stretches 54 miles from the Shenandoah National Park north to the Virginia/West Virginia state line. This great section of the A.T. also crosses over Sky Meadows State Park. The park was formed when Paul Mellon (June 11, 1907-February 1, 1999 – an American philanthropist and co-heir to one of America’s greatest business fortunes, the Mellon Bank fortune), donated 1,132 acres of land in 1975. The park has expanded its borders twice since then – 248 acres were added in 1987, containing the Appalachian Trial, and then again in 1991 when Mellon donated an additional 462 acres. More info, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sky_Meadows_State_Park

Sky Meadows is a year-round bird watching site. It is known for a colony of red-headed woodpeckers. Depending on the time of the year, it is almost certain that “woody” and several of his brothers – Downy, Pileated, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and Northern Flicker – will be pounding their heads against the trees as they welcome the hiker to this part of the A.T. http://www.allaboutbirds.org/

As a kid growing up in the hills of West Virginia, my favorite bird was the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, not because I’d ever seen one, but because I loved the name. I imagined a bright yellow bird with a sharp beak capable of piercing the trunk of a tree and possessing a vacuum-cleaner technique to suck all the sap out of sugar maples. It was also a good name to call my friends during an argument – “you, yellow-bellied sapsucker, you!”

I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I finally saw a picture of my favorite bird – it still is my favorite “name” for a bird, although the blue-footed booby is right up there too. Check out these pictures of the woodpecker clan of Sky Meadows (I don’t think “Woody” is a Red-headed Woodpecker!!!):

Downy_Woodpecker-Male Yellow bellied Sap.Sphyrapicus_variusPCSL11319B Northern_flicker_pairPileatedWoodpecker Red_Headed_Woodpecker5 

Downy Woodpecker   Yellow-bellied      N. Flicker         Pileated Woodpecker      Red-Headed                                                         Sapsucker                                                                               Woodpecker

Lots more facts at www.allaboutbirds.org/

Categories: Appalachian Trail, Backpack, Harpers Ferry, Hiking, Roller Coaster, Shenandoah National Park, Thru-Hike, Trail, Virginia | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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