Sky Meadows: It Begins

Climb every mountain?

Maybe not.

Okay, maybe just one. And not really a mountain — more like a big hill.

It’s good to have goals and ambitions, but sometimes it’s enough to just get started.

I came across the First Day Hike somewhere along the rough and rocky trails of social media. Free? Nature? Action! To encourage attendance, Virginia State Parks offered free admission on the first day of the year — the perfect chance to match their offerings with the hopes and needs generated by New Years’ resolutions and the ongoing abundance of the holiday season. Smart!

So, armed with this information, I investigated my options. Sure, this offer might have been good in other states’ parks, but I live in Virginia and I might as well do my best while I’m here. While I’ve always felt my stay here would be temporary, I’ve lived here for about six years already. So!

Sky Meadows is about an hour from my place, and I hadn’t really heard much about it before. Probably part of the issue was that my brain scrambled Big Meadows along Skyline Drive (in Shenandoah National Park) and somehow fooled me into thinking they were the same place. Not at all. Such a good name, though! Plus, they were offering an early opening to allow visitors to hike uphill for a fresh look at the first sunrise of the new year. And, as if that weren’t enough, they were offering a commemorative bumper sticker to the first 100 visitors. Sold! For free!

Circumstances conspired to keep me from the sunrise hike, but I got there a few hours later and still snagged a bumper sticker. Yessssss!

Did I hike? I did.

Did I climb every mountain? Not really.

I did make it from the way-far-away parking spot up to the overflow parking I should have gone to if I had known where it was, up to the visitors’ center, up to the trailhead, and then uphill and down. So!

I also made it past the wait-what that my right leg was doing — three weeks after back surgery, it’s mainly the nerve in my leg that requires the most rehabilitation. Some nerve!

And I made it past the ugh-really that my entire body was protesting — a fall season full of pain and discomfort meant not a lot of movement for a too-long time.

So then I was thinking: How many state parks are there in Virginia anyway? Answer: 38, although one of those is jointly operated with another state, and two additional listings on their website include a monument that doesn’t seem to have an associated park and an in-development park that has no parking (ha!) but is temporarily accessible to foot traffic.

The follow-up: Would it be possible to visit all of these parks in one year? Answer: Anything is possible.

Also: A map helps. I’m on my way!

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