Sunday, May 6, 2012

Elizabeth Furnace, George Washington National Forest: Part 1

A few years ago I came out to the Elizabeth Furnace area to hike to Buzzard’s Rock with a hiking group I was a part of.  I was surprised by how close to Front Royal it was and the multitude of hiking opportunities in the area.  I’d wanted to come back sometime but I was always drawn to Shenandoah and the Skyline Drive area.  What I’m beginning to learn is that most National Parks have National Forests nearby and the scenery is usually similar, or in some cases better, and there are usually way fewer people in the National Forests, so I’ve kinda made it my goal to check out as many as I can. 

Elizabeth Furnace appears to be no exception to what I’ve discovered in other places!  The campground is about 10 miles out of Front Royal, very easy to get to off RT 55.  It’s a small campground – only 30 sites!  Right now about 1/2 of those sites are filled.  The sites are nice – some nicer than others. I have a large flat site that is all gravel.  It is away from other sites, but still rather close. I can kinda see my neighbors across the road but I’m surrounded by woods.  Nice because I can run my generator and not worry about blowing exhaust at anyone! Or folks being overly bothered by the noise. It was fairly easy to back into – I did make some rookie mistakes in terms of not paying attention to what the front the RV might hit as I backed in, but luckily there was nothing there!  I had to stop and straighten up a few times, but the site is at a funny angle.  Many of the sites look to be newly “renovated”.   The campground does have shower and bathhouse facilities but they are still in “winter” mode and none of that is turned on yet.  That also means the nightly camping fee is only $10!

After I picked my site I decided to explore a bit before dinner.  I headed around the campground and tried to find a way over the river to the picnic area.  I was a bit discouraged at first since there didn’t seem to be a clear way to get over there, I was wondering what I’d do for the evening if I couldn’t go for a walk.  Eventually I came to a clearing on one of the smaller campsite loops and saw a cabin and just beyond the cabin was a large suspension bridge that lead right into the picnic area!  I wandered around the picnic area for about and hour – it was totally deserted, not a soul was there! I found some interpretive trails – one was 1/2 mile and the other was 1/4 mile – so I walked those, reading a few of the signs about how they made pig iron back in the day.  I was mostly marveling at the fact that there are mountain laurel blooming already and looking forward to hopefully seeing some on my hike tomorrow.   Eventually I decided I should head back to the campground and get dinner!

For dinner I’d planned to re-heat leftovers from the week so that meant I needed the microwave, which meant that I needed to run the generator.  This would be the 1st time I’d run the generator.  I pushed the button and it started right up! :-)  Boy is it loud!  Soon the microwave clock clicked on so I knew it had power!  I was also running the AC because it was really hot in the RV.  I heated my soup and let the AC run for awhile, and I needed to exercise the generator.  I decided I wanted to watch a DVD while I ate so I popped one in, but then couldn’t hear it over the generator and I couldn’t figure out how to work the surround sound.  Such issues to have while camping!

Finally I was tired of listening to the generator so I cut it off and only seconds after I turned it off realized that I needed to have turned the AC of 1st!  Rookie mistake.  I did turn the AC off so when I start the generator tomorrow night to fix dinner it should be ok. 

After dinner I mostly packed my lunch and snacks and gear for tomorrow’s hike so I could hopefully get an early start.  I’m planning to hike the Signal Knob loop and it’s almost 12 miles around so I’d like to get started super early. 

There was still daylight left after that so I walked another loop around the campground.  When I was at the picnic area I could see the road and I saw a Roadtrek (another van conversion RV) drive by and I wondered if they were in the campground.  I walked by every site and didn’t see them, in fact I realized I’m the only driveable RV in the whole place!  Almost everyone else here is in a travel trailer or pop-up, not even that many tents!

The air outside is nice and cool, but was really hot in the RV.  I had the windows open and started the fan but it was still hot.  It’s finally getting cooler – I have the sliding door open and one of the back doors – letting in bugs but I’d rather bugs than hot.  There’s a chorus of frogs going and a cool breeze starting to blow!   It’s almost too dark to see the keys, I suppose I should close up the doors and crawl into bed with my book! 


My site at Elizabeth Furnace Family Campground! Great site!

My great site, #18!

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