Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Short Day Hike - Pocosin Mission Trail

The boys lumber down the fire road towards Pocosin Mission
Recently the boys and I were privileged to sneak out for a short day hike with my Aunt Ginny. We needed something short, as she and I are both swamped with gotta-do's, but we wanted something scenic and adventurous, too. Since we live close to Skyline Drive, we decided to head up to one of the short trails up there. Rooster has been bugging me to take him somewhere at which he can "explore old broken down buildings," so when I read the description of the trail to the old Pocosin Episcopal mission I knew that it was our winner.

The boys eagerly approach the ruins
It's a short hike downhill on a fire road to the little trail at the old mission. A portion of the hike is a part of the Appalachian Trail. The fire road is in good condition, and would work well with a jogger stroller if you had a small child.

The kids always enjoy looking for the colored blazes which mark the trail. They also enjoyed looking for scat and tracks - and there were plenty of each for them to identify!

Once the mission came into view, they really began to get excited.

Our only disappointment was that we didn't have more time, because the trail continues past the ruins on down to South River Falls and we all wanted to go!

Bo explores the ruins of the cabin at the old Pocosin Mission
The boys really enjoyed exploring the ruins. The old mission was established in 1904. There is much more left standing of the cabin than of the mission building itself. The old sink basin, buckets, and other relics have been left there for visitors to see.

There is quite a bit of rusted metal and broken glass around the cabin, so if you were to venture out with small children you would want to watch them very closely or carry them around the ruins.

The remains of the cabin at the old Pososin Mission
The ruins of the mission building include the stone foundation and stone steps, a small portion of stone wall, and part of a chimney. Rotting fallen timbers lie in the area, and vegetation is definitely overtaking the site.

Across the trail from the mission is an old cemetery, which would have been almost impossible to find had the leaves not fallen. Unmarked headstones are the only indication of the those whose bodies lie there.

The boys and Aunt Ginny on the front steps of the old Pocosin Mission house
The ruins are an ominous peek into life a century ago. It's amazing to think that prior to 1904 someone saw this beautiful site and imagined a place there where a community could live and worship together - and that people enjoyed worship and fellowship here at least for some time - and such a short time after, what we see is all that is left. Life certainly is fleeting.

I couldn't dig up much information on the history of the place; it leaves me wondering what it must have been like and why it was abandoned. I wonder how many group portraits were taken on these same front steps while the building was standing. It would be really neat to find a photo in a history book that covers our local area.
The boys and I inside the old Pocosin Mission house - near the remains of the stone wall and an old doorway
This was a very enjoyable outing - a refreshing walk on a cool, crisp autumn morning followed by a picnic lunch at Big Meadows. Aunt Ginny brought really sinful home-made trail mix complete with Reece's Pieces and M&M's and little cookies (the boys officially think she's awesome now) and we laughed until our cheeks hurt.

The boys commented that when I'm with Aunt Ginny I laugh a lot - I replied that when I'm with just about anyone on Nana's side of the family I laugh a lot. There's something delightfully contagious about it, and for some reason that's just what we do! (I'm not sure if their comment indicates that I laugh too much in the company of my mother and her family, or that I don't laugh enough at home. LOL)

If you live in or visit the Shenandoah Valley, I strongly recommend visiting Skyline Drive - it's worth it just about any time of the year. Just gorgeous. The Pocosin Mission Trail isn't a very scenic hike as the trail is very wooded, but if you enjoy visiting historic sites as much as we do, you will certainly enjoy this glimpse back in time. You can download maps of other hikes on Skyline here, or read reviews and directions for this and many other Virginia hikes here.

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