There’s a country saying about the number of foggy mornings in August being an indicator for the amount of snows we will have this winter. A great many, at this rate. But this weekend a cold front blew through and a crisp north wind chased away the clouds that had hung over us for days. The van was making disquieting noises, so my husband and I borrowed our son’s truck and headed up to the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Skyline Drive. The ridges were free of their hazy shroud and every tree stood out with clarity in the beautiful green-gold light. It was one of those clear blue, see forever days and we gazed out over miles and miles of the lush valley and the Massanutten Mountain range. The Alleghenies loomed in the far distance.
Lunch at the Big Meadows lodge was a delight with a seat by the window overlooking the magnificent panorama. Then we hiked the rocky path up Bear Fence Mountain, stepping on a bit of smashed up rattlesnake tail on the way. It was my fervent hope not to encounter any living relations as we climbed from stone to stone. The sign that told about the trail had advised caution, but said it wasn’t a dangerous trek. Well, no, not if you don’t fall to your death.
As we neared the summit, the arrangement of the jagged rocks reminded me of the fence that early settlers built around their pig pen to keep the bears from snatching the bacon and must be where that unusual name comes from. My husband ventured farther up the pinnacle than I did, but he’s part mountain goat. The gaps between the jutting stones kept me to the initial level. He wanted to pull me up to his vantage point but that would have meant letting go of my tenuous hold with at least one hand. Even so, I absorbed enough of the dizzying vista below for my spirit to soar with the eagles. As we drove back out of the park we saw a line of stopped cars and people pointing to something hidden back in the trees––our third bear sighting this summer. Must be a good sign. Bears are mystical creatures with much power, according to the Shawnee.