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.
More regular checks on the incremental greening at the Augusta Springs Wetlands
We've been galumphing round this wetland nearly weekly all winter -- it's had its own kind of seasonal attractions, but it was very bleak.
Where better to assess the springtime's progress towards greenness than in George Washington's own National Forest. It's 15 May 2002, just two weeks since our last inspection of the premises.
It appears that our investigative mission is redundant -- this is green enough for anyone's thumb.
Thirty hundred year old oak trees, more or less.
Trees that inspire awe
The ice is out.
Wee tiny fish flitting about, preparing to become bigger soon or get et
This is why we so appreciate boardwalks . . .
. . . and bridges.
Well spotted! It's just been drawn to our attention that there is a Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus of the order Passeriformes) perched on our own favorite railing. O frabjous day.
But this is about the best that our little Canon PowerShot can do from this distance; we'll sneak up a bit closer, but . . .
. . . that didn't work out. He's off for new adventures.
Two weeks ago that cluster in the centre of the picture was all a lively pink, and the hillside behind was barren, apparently all dead. Now the cluster of Red Dogwood isn't red anymore, and the hillside . . . well, not dead.
Despite appearances, that's our favorite tree in the wetland, seen here from the far side. It's got its own quiet dignity.
Off the boardwalk, back into the jungle
That's one of the two benches in the wetland park with a back on it -- we alternate with our books with the other one, depending on the height and angle of the sun.
The Uplands Trail -- our goal today is to push our explorations beyond the marked trail farther to the north.
Last time we were here, we were sort of driven off by billowing smoke plumes from a forest fire, apparently from just near the top of the Uplands Trail loop, and we're keen to inspect all the damage.
Here's our turnoff onto the crossover trail (as we call it) leading over the lower end of the ridge onto the exit ramp of the loop trail.
It's all as green as we'd hoped for . . . maybe too much so.
This is an unmarked turnoff up onto the length of the ridge, toward the top of the trail loop.
It's more fun than the Uplands Trail itself, which in many places looks like a vestige of some sort of entertaining carriage track for the wealthy residents of the 19th century resort on this site.
Lots of forest-firey tinder all over the ground here, but no forest fires -- it's all just lying there decaying naturally at its own pace. Soon we'll be up onto the little ridge, and then . . .
. . . along it to the north. We'd expected to find a smoldering, charred out desolate landscape here after the fire.
No blackened desolation so far
The path makes some nice crescent-shaped bays as it wends along beside the ridgeline just off to the right.
Recent damage -- fallen trees that were still teetering semi-upright when we were last here.
That's our intersection where the Uplands Trail crosses over from left to right and our unmarked path sneaks off straight ahead to the north.
'No horses' are permitted on the proper Uplands Trail itself.
Or onto this one either, for a little ways
As beautiful, and comfortable, a trail as you could find anywhere. A dream for running on (which, at this age, just makes us bitterly envious).
HERE is where the horses can up onto our trail or need to shunt off down the ridge.
More ecological damage (down to climate change, no doubt)
We've pranced happily about half an hour farther along than on our last expedition, and the trail is still good, evidently well-traveled, and unsignposted, basically three longish hills leading higher into what Google Maps seems to show as an utter wilderness.
And there's no sign in any direction of a forest fire -- it wasn't just our imagination! (In fact, we were told that it was a 'controlled burn' -- a very well controlled burn, evidently.)
-- Well spotted again! And thanks for warning me.
We've turned round and started back downish.
With a tiny bit of uppish
Back to the intersection of trails and the way down the second half of the signposted loop
We've narrowly avoided squashing this little fellow (well spotted!). Some people say that even little salamanders, etc., may have souls, and are thus not to be squashed without a good reason.
A scampering little dude, with red spots on.
Carefully downhill, with an eye out for soulful little salamanders
Of all the car corpses stashed out here in the forest, at least 6 or 7 at last count, this one is our favorite.
That's where the 'crossover trail' crosses the Tiny River and comes back onto the Uplands loop.
Out of the forest and into the sunlight, and patches of flowers
More colorful in person than in this photo, unfortunately
The other Augusta Springs reading bench with a back on it. It's a very hot day, and we won't linger long.
Some good news for a change.
Next up: The descent of the Ottawa gang upon us: Sherando Lake salamanders