Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2021-2022

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us

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 Lake Sherando 'cliff trail' with some disappointing fall foliage

24 October 2021 in beatific weather so far

Staunton's high street on a Saturday morning, as the restaurants begin putting their facilities out.

We're taking a brief run down to the weekly Farmers' Market (seeking rutabaga) in the huge carpark facing onto Johnson St and backing onto Byers St and the Wharf District.

The banner is stuck up on the city's memorial to the Statler Brothers, the famous country music and gospel quartet that from 1964 to '72 backed up Johnny Cash before going off on their own, and had their own syndicated show in the 1990s and released over 40 albums. They came from Staunton, had their HQ here, and performed every year, for 25 years, at the Gypsy Hill 4th of July festival here. The group retired in 2002 but three of them continued to reside in Staunton. ['The Statlers remain one of the most awarded acts in the history of country music' (Wikipedia), but to my embarrassment I'd never heard of them.]

A look-in at the Saturday market has become a bit of a ritual for us.

Imagine, the notorious Lewis Creek is burbling along under our feet at this very moment.

Who's that lady wearing one of the only three covid masks on the terrain?

Sherando Lake, with not entirely beautiful fall colors

Sort of semi-colorful, the trees are, and in any case this is always a beautiful place to be (in good weather, and without large crowds). It's 24 October 2021, and today we're going to do the upper trail round the lake, instead of the shorter lakeside trail. We've walked it once before, and though it's called the 'Cliff Trail' it's a piece of cake and only takes about a leisurely hour.

Some of these trees actually look like they're straining to look colorful.

Passing the visitors' centre -- the upper trail begins just there in the background.

We've been tithed today at the fee station on the access road, and at this point the visitors' centre seems to be open, but we've never looked in and have no idea what's on offer. We've been back subsequently a few times in November, after the fee station has been abandoned for the year, and what we're looking at here has then been all boarded up for the winter.

A pale reddishness out on the little island. That's the public beach, not too crowded in late October.

Off we go.

(Kristin appears to be wearing a Hallowe'en shirt! We wonder why, but daren't ask.)

The upper trail proceeds quite gently upward for about a kilometer. A lot of the summer greenness seems merely to be declining into a sickly yellow, worse luck.

We just passed the high point of the trail and will now start down. Of course.

The terrain down past the northern end of the lake is indeed cliffy, but the path zigs and zags back and forth in a pleasant, orderly manner. This is a zig . . .

. . . followed by a zag.

And another zig.

We're coming up to the next 'virage' to zagginess, and what should we find, to our horror . . .

. . . a huge writhing, evil snake. (Actually, it appears that though there are Timber Rattlesnakes, Copperheads, etc. infesting this region, this particular kind of snake is appreciated for its penchant for killing the toxic ones. We don't know why.)

-- Shoo, shoo; go on. (We're not taking any chances.)

A little more cliffiness on a zag

-- What was that? Did you hear that, something writhing about in the bushes? [No snakes. That's actually a bit of fiction.]

Mind your step.

There's the lake in the offing.

We're zigging back down to the dam across the northern end, debating which lakeside trail we'll follow back to the car.

To complete the circle of the lake, we feel bound to go round to the far side for our return.

Across the dam, with its patient and persistent fisherpeople (The lake is 'Stocked Trout Waters', 'no lure restrictions', 'no closed season'.)

It's a beautiful lake.

From the dam to the beach and visitors' centre it's about 530 meters, or 1740 feet, 580 yards (5.8 American football fields) (4.24 European football fields).

Down along the spillway, which allows the 'North Fork Back Creek' to pass through the lake and go down to join the 'Back Creek' -- some time ago, for an earlier webpage, we traced the thing all the way down through its tributarial hookups to the Potomac and Chesapeake, and we haven't the energy to do all that again.

Just for information, after passing along the 600m length of the lake, the North Fork Back Creek meanders through the forest for a few miles and merges into the Back Creek, which just south of Waynesboro merges into the South River, which, having got past the Dollar General in Grottoes, VA, is joined 18 miles farther north by the North River to become the South Fork Shenandoah River, which a very meandery 60 miles farther north will be joined by the North Fork Shenandoah River near Front Royal to become, at last, the Shenandoah River. Which, ultimately, joins the Potomac at Harpers Ferry, and the rest is history. (Source)

Across to the other side, and . . .

. . . up to the western lakeside trail, which is in some places somewhat higher above the lake than the eastern trail is.

Some very nice peek-a-boo glimpses of the sun-shimmering lake through the foliage

Like this one

Someone has thoughtfully provided a bridge over a pesky little ravine -- government agencies do frequently have their uses.

Slightly better colors on this side of the lake, it seems. Could that be true?

That's the cute little island on the far side.

Back down to ground floor level

As people who are never here in the summer months, it's hard for us to imagine, luckily, all of these picnic tables and hibachis in high-decible use at the same time. With screaming kids, dogs, grill-smoke, rap music and polkas on the boom boxes, oh man.

We're back to the carpark now, and heading home.

Near the bottom of the two-mile access road, we're passing the fee station again -- this is the last time this winter that it will be operating. Day fees are on the 'honor system' hereafter.
Heh heh heh.

At the entrance to the Sherando Lake access road, a reminder of the past

Northward up the Mt Torrey Road (Rte 664), with . . .

. . . the Blue Ridge Parkway looming up on the right, and . . .

. . . following the Back Creek through the long town of Sherando. With some fall colors.

One of our favorite expressions of true patriotic devotion -- the US national flag. With two Confederate battle flags above it.

Back to Staunton, half an hour later

A slightly pre-Hallowe'en walk in the Gospel Hill historic district

To view some of the Hallowe'en contributions, 29 October 2021

Could be Obsessive Hallowe'enism Syndrome (OHS)

We're on Kalorama St just east of N. Coalter, next to the Firkin Pie Company, preparing to admire some of the architecture back towards the downtown.

'Kalorama' is derived from the Greek for 'beautiful view', and it's a pretty amazing posh district from the T. J. Collins heyday of Staunton architecture.

That one, no. 227, neatly framed by the trees, is said to have been designed by Collins in 1898 'using Jacobean details'.

The stone house at the left, no. 215 Kalorama, was designed by Collins in 1891 for city official Arista Hoge, in what is described as a 'Richardson Romanesque' revivalist style.

There again is the former Stonewall Jackson Hotel, a Staunton landmark feature since 1924, but judiciously renamed the Hotel 24 South in September 2020.

That's South Market St (the hotel, left, is of course at no. 24) looking towards Mary Baldwin University two blocks up the little hill. The American Shakespeare Center's Blackfriars Playhouse is just behind the hotel.

Finally, a tree with proper fall colors.

Next, a joy-filled visit to the county landfill [-- No Scavenging!!! -- Okay!!!]

A quiet place with benches for reading outdoors on a warm afternoon, the Trinity Episcopal Church's mini-playground,
1 November 2021

Two chapters done, time to go home

We're just two blocks over. We can do this!

Choupette trying in vain to have a conversation with a metal bird

Urban symmetries

A visit from Mark and Nancy, 3 November 2021

What's next, then? Some more local walks, with much improved fall colors and some horrible vines

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 2 December 2021, updated 4 December 2021.

Recent Events