|Fox Hollow Circuit Hike Trail Head at Dickey Ridge, |
Shenandoah National Park
The view from the Visitor Center proper (not shown) is fabulous, looking west across the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain to the far ridge that is known (or was known), as I understand it, as the Devil's Backbone in the far distance. To the right is a picture of the East-Northeast View, which, I believe, looks toward High Knob (the mountain on the right. Beyond it is I-66, which is the commuter corridor that takes one to Washington, DC.
As far as I am concerned the Shenandoah Valley has it all, but is under-sung in certain circles when it comes to its appeal as a potential prepper redoubt. Retreat locale gurus Joel Skoelsen and J.W. Rawles have contributed much excellent data and research to the discussion of retreat locales. And while I respect their opinions, I think there is more to be said about the East Coast and retreat locales in general when it comes to a societal collapse, or "the crunch" as Rawles speaks about it in his novels.
Their main criticism, as I understand it, is population density. Rawles only recommends several states in the Upper Mountain Northwest as a viable option for survival, whereas Skoelsen recommends several regions cut off from population centers. In their world view, if you live on the East Coast (or an East Coast State) chances for survival are slim, or go down drastically because of such a high population density.
I agree with that basic premise, except with regard to one thing. Terrain.
Navigating the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains is not easy. Skoelsen believes that residents living in the Shenandoah Valley are too close to high population centers (Baltimore/DC/Northern VA) and will suffer numerous roving bands and so therefore recommends the Piedmont Region (Eastern/Northen Tenessee & Eastern Kentucky) for extra insurance against them.
That is fine and all, but my personal opinion after spending my free time this summer hiking in the mountains is thus: anyone traveling on foot scavenging for food and crossing these mountains is basically pretty screwed. I am in decent shape and love to hike. Still, these hills are not easily crossed. Anyone "heading to the hills" better have their gear in order, a pre-defined route, and plenty of food and lots of practice. That equals about 1-2% of the population.
EMP, Economic Collapse, or Nuclear War, as the East Coast goes, I think we in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond (West Virginia) have a better chance of dodging the bullet than most. I will take those odds and for numerous reasons. See for yourself. This region is not a known nuclear target (or at least if it is, it is not being published.) In an EMP Collapse, unless autos work, as mentioned above, few people are going to be crossing these mountains. In an economic collapse, I surmise everyone will be just as screwed and be lucky to have the needed gas to drive here, and the stragglers that do come out this way would actually be few in number.
I believe there are many fine places to live to avoid the societal shit-storms dead-ahead. I've considered other regions, but for one reason or another (finances being one of them of course) am definitely ok with the Northern Shenandoah Valley region. Here is my list of the pros that make this region and those around it an excellent choice for a retreat locale:
1.) Beautiful and remote without being in BFE. The valley is about 70 miles from Washington, DC. You are close to the amenities and resources of a major metropolitan city yet isolated by rugged terrain from it.
2.) Excellent growing season and soil. Water, springs, rivers, creeks, and brookes are available in abundance. It is an outdoorsman's paradise.
3.) Where I live in particular, disgruntled mountain folk still dwell in high numbers. They are survivors and have an air of ruggedness. They do not like outsiders. This isn't always good, but these people are not fools. They don't trust others easily.
4.) Not downwind of nuclear power. Lake Anna is 63 miles away, but the Shenandoah is nearly always upwind of that locale.
For me at least, these considerations make this area an attractive place for preppers who have or want to live on the East Coast. I'd say most rural places in the Valley are pretty sweet locations for all of the above mentioned reasons. I think there are other places up and down the Eastern Seaboard that meet much of this criteria as well, but you have to look for them.
The final consideration is that in life and in the days ahead, we will need each others' skills and talents to survive. No man is an island for long, or generally wants to be when it comes to providing essentials for oneself and others, regardless of how self-sufficient.
Anyhow, if you have found this article online and have a question about the Shenandoah, be sure to comment in the notes.
In the mean time, stay safe out there.