For the first time in a long time (and possibly ever), I took my birthday off work. My birthday is May 3, which has always been a bit of a problem as an adult. In college, it landed during finals. As a working accountant, it tends to be during the month end close cycle. In my most current company, it is during the fiscal yearend close which is the busiest time for our department. This year, I have just had enough of work taking all the fun out of my life. I politely requested that I be allowed the day off, and my boss agreed with the caveat that I cancel if a crisis came up before I left the day before.
I wanted to do something nice for my birthday that was just for me. I chose to go hiking because it is one of my goals to do more hiking this year. I went to Shenandoah National Park and hiked the Stoney Man Trail. Stoney Man Trail is a relatively short trail, only 1.6 miles of fairly easy terrain. There is a slight incline as you are hiking your way to the mountain summit, but most of the height is ascended with the drive to the starting point of the trail. I wanted an easier hike though for two reasons. One, I wanted to enjoy a pleasant stroll in beautiful weather, and not to wear myself out with a challenge. Two, I had brand new hiking boots, so I did not want something too strenuous in case they started to rub (they did not). The weather was gorgeous, sunny but not too hot, with a nice breeze. The trail was fairly well traveled, and even mid-week during the school year I saw 5 or 6 groups of people while I was hiking. Once I got to the top, I was rewarded with an absolutely gorgeous view of the valleys below. In addition to my hike, I also stopped at all the overlooks between Thornton Gap Entrance and Skyland Lodge.
In all, it was an amazing birthday. After my day to myself, I went home to my husband who made me a delicious dinner. It is so hard in the rush of modern life to carve out those moments for ourselves, but days like this just reinforce how important it is. In the future, I am going to try to take my birthday off again, if conditions are right at work. I am also reinforcing my commitment to get in more hikes before the end of the year. Being out there, surrounded by the nothing and everything of nature, just makes me feel at peace in a way I seldom do any more.
Of course, I took pictures of both the hike and the overlooks while I was out. I have shared some of them below.
Jewel Hollow Overlook
On Stoney Man Trail
Stoney Man Summit
Hemlock Springs Overlook
Hazel Mt Overlook
Tunnel Parking Overlook
Until next time, I hope you are out living the life you always dreamed you would have.