A collection of photographic scraps as the covid winter plods along to a covid spring
You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
The Staunton farmers' market and a walk to the Dripping Rock
Saturday morning in Staunton, VA, 17 April 2021, and the restaurateurs are setting out their outdoor dining facilities for the weekend.
The Saturday farmers' market has resumed for the season. We hasten to get the best pickings.
Music has been laid on for the occasion -- the stools there are permanently fixed into this monument to Staunton's favorite sons, the prominent Statler Brothers country music group, famous in their own right (we're told) and also hosts to the 'Happy Birthday USA' festival every Independence Day that ran from 1970 for 25 years in Staunton's Gypsy Hill Park, and drew big name country music stars and up to 100,000 fans.
Enthusiastic fans of the present musicians
[I'm bouncing my feet on the pavement a little bit myself.]
The farmers' market resumes every Saturday morning for another season -- it takes place in the carpark of the Wharf District, directly over the flood-prone Lewis Creek.
Masked and distanced
Kristin's lined up for her favorite stuff (most notably, quiches and boutique breads).
Back up to home -- we were headed off to one of our favoritie walking spots at Sherando Lake, but we were rudely turned away without explanation, so we carried on up the Blue Ridge Parkway to find alternatives.
The Dripping Rock trail
With good advice from some flower fanciers, we've come along to a little layby on the Blue Ridge and are setting off for the 'Dripping Rock', so-called.
An excellent trail
The trail is listed on Alltrails as 1.7mi (3km) with only a roughly 200m elevation gain.
There's no greenery here in mid-April; is that normal?
In fact, the whole forest looks exceptionally dead -- we have the impression that if some careless hiker were to drop a cigarette, this whole ridge would go off like an incendiary bomb. Us too.
We're starting down for a ways, to a little swampy interlude.
An arboreal casualty
And then back upward again
In many places, someone's laid on some large stone steps, very helpful in muddy conditions, no doubt, but a bit of a nuisance today. Aging knees, et cetera.
And in the fullness of time, we approach what appears to be the Dripping Rock, though with no dripping at the moment.
We're not entirely sure what we're meant to be looking for (there is a blue blaze on a tree, whilst so far we've been dealing only with white ones), so we carry on a bit farther to be sure.
Potentially good views to the east, if the weather were a little more charitable
That appears to be the Humpback Rocks, a little further north along the Blue Ridge -- we walked up that scenic venue some 7 or 8 years ago, very satisfying.
The trail is starting back downhill going north, so we conclude that we have indeed already reached our destination at the Dripping Rock. This is, by the way, a section of the famous Appalachian Trail, and we've been overtaken already by a few overloaded but happy young men processing from Georgia to Maine. (Nearly my only experiences with the Appalachian Trail have been in New Hampshire.)
Kristin and a new friend are starting back along our trail, sharing stories about their times living in Utah (USA).
A brief look off what we've concluded must be Dripping Rock, sans drips.
We've been promised a scenic overlook, but perhaps this is the wrong day, indeed the wrong season, for it . . . or perhaps the wrong rock.
That's towards the southwest (probably).
That's a glance down to a little impromptu, informal campsite just below the Rock. (Somebody had a campfire here?!?!)
The expanse of white over there has been described to us from other lookouts as an Amazon distribution centre. Visible from space -- like from Neptune.
We commence our return trip -- our new acquaintance is rushing ahead to catch up with her party.
The Appalachian Trail crosses the Interstate I64 around Rockfish Gap and, from here, passes over the Blue Ridge Parkway back where we've left our attractive new (used) Volvo S90.
Kristin is pointing out that a trail improvement to drain rain water off the path could cause serious harm to hurrying hikers at dusk.
-- Mind your head!
Continuing downward to the swampy interlude
Back past our sad uprooted tree -- after the European 'Boxing Day Hurricane' Lothar on 26 December 1999, whole Alpine and Jura hillsides looked like that tree. Even surviving trees along popular paths had signs posted on them -- 'Don't lean on any trees, they'll fall over'.
Always good advice
Marsh Marigolds (we're told)
A horrible growth (a 'burl') on the poor sick tree
Almost done for today
A last look round, lost in admiration
Eh voilà . . . time well spent.
Another road and trailhead farther north on the Blue Ridge Pkwy, with (apparently) a parapente zooming into the scene from the right. Where on earth it came from remains for us a mystery.
Back home, with thinning dogwoods on the Mary Baldwin University campus just up our street
'Gatoring': Choupette is watching us as we watch the telly.
So is Melvin, from his Choupette-proof hideaway
They're both awaiting their evening dose of Greenies catnip treats.