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.
We're here for a few days to do the pleasant walks, and see the Natural Bridge.
We've just descended from our explorations round the Natural Bridge and rejoined our party at the Hemlock Lodge, and we're using our free time wisely by scoping out the facilities of the State Resort Park. Down there.
A gift shop, closed up tight, awaiting the onset of the high tourist season, or just the end of the covid.
Geese, mostly babies
A glance back up at the Hemlock Lodge. The bleacher seats in the foreground are for the regular Appalachian dancing 'hoedowns' in summer.
A lakeshore stroll
The changing facilities attached to the sizable swimming pool over on the far side
We're setting off on a short walking tour round the lake.
That's the gift shop again.
-- Now what?
Back up to the Lodge then.
A second expedition to the Natural Bridge, 11 June 2021
Awakening full of hope and expectations -- but look at this weather.
Even the gutters upstairs are overflowing.
Melvin and Choupette are implicitly recommending a comfy retreat in a more forgiving environment . . .
. . . but we won't be deterred.
Sloshing our way up the 'Original Trail' towards the Natural Bridge
Once again, it's a mere 20 minute trajet up the direct Original Trail.
This hasn't changed at all since yesterday.
Even more nearly therer
Pretty much there
Really really there
A short pause before attacking the mini-gorge to the top -- the Squeezer!
Kristin meets the Natural Bridge. Cool.
Another intrusive passerby. The camera lens is beginning to suffer from the rain.
The Lookout Point, let's go.
Processing out the Laurel Ridge Trail towards . . .
. . . the Lookout Point.
-- So, we can go back now?
-- No way. Follow me, to Lookout Point.
The jungle in a drizzle.
Some choice -- nobody's thinking of Leaping, but 'Devil's Gulch'? 'Needle's Eye'?
That's Devil's Gulch, somewhere down there.
We'll give that one a miss. The next is . . .
. . . the Needle's Eye Stairs. No thank you!
So here's the Lovers' Leap. Or is it the Lover's Leap? That makes more sense.
-- Excuse me. Very nice, very nice indeed, perfect in fact. Could I get that prominent rock formation behind you then?
-- Thanks, that's the one.
Back along the ridge path to the Bridge
Mind the muddy bits
The Lookout Point in the rain
And a rainy Natural Bridge (is there a refund or rain check?)
The Laurel Ridge Trail
This closely-crowded group of normal-looking teenagers were grouped around a clean-shaven erect young man in his late twenties, who called out 'Who'd like to volunteer to Pray Us Out with thanks to our God for making this wonderful bridge for us'. Hands shot up, and a young lady squeaked out 'Me, me', but the nod went to a young man who cleared his throat and began 'Dear Lord, we thank you so much for all the . . .', and we put our heads down and worked out way around them on the Bridge, and ran for it.
Squeezing back down the Orange-Squeezer
This time we're returning by Trail 3, the Battleship Rock Trail. A new adventure.
However, with a rain-smeared lens, we can only pray for the best. Sorry, only hope for the best.
Down we go, a primeval-forest sort of path that follows the escarpment line vaguely downhill
The rain is closing in on us, but we yield to nothing.
The jungles of Brazil or the DRC, it might as well be, except no guerrilla gangs of armed ganja teens.
Downpour! But fun!
We're making tracks, but not descending very much.
Perhaps we are descending after all, that's the bottom of the Devil's Gulch or Needle's Eye staircase.
Nature's fun little mysteries. What was God's Plan for this one?
No compassion for the stragglers
Mind the step!
Enfin nous descendons. Here go the knees.
This is all looking more . . . domesticated, as it were.
The rain's nearly enough to bowl us over, but we're presently on a mission.
Which is, here, to rejoin the Original Trail and get under a roof.
Not that we've actually been missed!
Weather's cleared out, belatedly, and we're lined up for a table at La Cabaña restaurant. The rolling thunder crowds are finishing up, and we should be seated soon.
Some 40 of the Harley Davidson sectarians are vrooming out on the road now ('Helmets suck!'); one doesn't want to be too obvious photographing the vroomy phenomenon.
Goodbye to the Hemlock Lodge, thank you very much (and to the staff in the Tavern part of it for light dinners).
A glance at the interior. Very lodgey!
And a last souvenir.