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 whirlwind traveling seems to be taking a restorative break for a while. It's mid-January 2023, there's no snow here yet and may never be, though the rest of the country seems to be leaping from one 'Atmospheric River' to another 'Polar Vortex' -- one can hardly look at national weather reports these days without breaking into tears. But it's only fair that we've been spared, since we attribute our meteorological good fortune to only ever having voted for politicians promising to prevent Climate Change. Too late now though.
The Sherando Lake Recreation Area, operated by the US Forest Service, is called the 'jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains', a 25-acre spring-fed lake that, in season, provides camping facilities, fishing, boating, hiking, picnicking, and (allegedly) wildlife spotting.
Though we've only ever seen ducks and geese, minnows, and one harmless snake.
There's a slight fee to enter in season ($8 per car, more for a RV or camping site), but out of season the road from the entry post up to the main carpark and facilities is closed in late October, to be opened again on the Poisson d'Avril (April 1). But weather permitting, when the road is closed here, one can take the 'fishermens' entrance' up to the right, to the near end of the lake . . .
. . . at the dam. [This photo was taken last year when there were tiny spots of snow about. This year, no snow.]
It's 18 January 2023 and we're here, after a busy fall, to renew our acquaintance.
The western, higher side of the lakeside path leaves the carpark by this . . .
. . . cute little bridge over the 'Williams Branch'.
No use for the spillway today. Why?
[Info note on the Williams Branch of the North Fork Back Creek. After emerging from springs a few miles up in the forest and slipping past another smaller dam at the top of the RV campgrounds, the North Fork Back Creek passes along the 600m length of Sherando Lake, then meanders through the forest for a few miles farther 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 -- Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean history.]
Up to the north briefly, and then . . .
. . . back south again, above the lake.
A look back at the dam
Few fisherpeople today . . .
. . . just one gent down on the far side of the lakeshore.
That's the island on the far side. But something's different today.
Ah, that's it. The water's all gone . . .
. . . at this end of the lake anyway. Poor old ducks, poor old geese. Where have they gone?
We've been out of the country for a while . . . we certainly never heard talk of any drought round here.
We can only hope that the water eventually comes back, like California does.
In fact, though, it's not as dire as it looks.
On a subsequent visit, we met a knowledgeable fan of the lake here near the visitors' centre who informed us that this was a planned drawdown for maintenance purposes, and all would be right again by April 1. [And by 21 February, it was.]
Until then, we must continue hoping and praying. In the meantime, we're making our way towards the beginning of the renowned 'Cliff Path', in the background just ahead, which ascends (and then descends) around the eastern side of the lake.
From this vantage, it doesn't look like any prayers will suffice.
Plans, however well meant, are only 'aspirational', and one of our party has announced that a familiar issue with one of one's Articulationes femoropatellaris requires that we follow the lower path today. As gingerly as possible.
The island is not . . . an island anymore.
Who will be so bold as to struggle across the flats and experience standing on that beautiful island, even for just a few joyous moments?
On the other hand, one might well thrash about and sink without a trace. Bad knees and all. We'll pass.
Back to the dam then.
(The white scar on the hillside appears to be waste rock from early mining up on the ridge.)
This is the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest -- we're near the red dot, but over two ridges and slightly to the south, there is the Saint Mary's Wilderness. We've only been over there for one walk so far, a fine path up towards waterfalls, only meeting two rattlesnakes along the way.
The road home, north up Rte 664 . . .
. . . past the grocery store in Sherando village, and . . .
. . . the Country Store in Lyndhurst, and past . . .
. . . the ragged offensive flag displays along the roadside up nearer to Interstate 81 west.
Choupette never missed us.
Melvin often joins us for telly night, but doesn't much like documentaries, especially about Pompeii.
Bring out a suitcase and Choupette becomes alarmed about being left behind.
It's the 20th of January, and it looks like Spring has sprung at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton. That's the little railway for the kids.
And that's the Duck Pond, with most of the ducks huddled together on the centre island.
Staunton is home to quite a few cultured people, most of whom we're never met. Any fan of Orvieto would be worth a congenial nod.
Choupette admires the screen background but . . .
. . . doesn't recognize Córdoba's Mezquita.
Here are a few snapshots of some interesting views up in the Arlington Street neighborhood, between Gypsy Hill Park and the Staunton Public Library. The trees look like 'bare ruin'd choirs' and can mesmerize one . . .
. . . gaunt, disfigured, seemingly dead as arboreal doornails -- but soon the sweet birds will sing again here.
That thing may never die, though, whatever the season (until the tree inside it dies first).
A fascinating house on Frazier St, seen . . .
. . . from two angles.
We've just space to throw in a few quick views of a routine walk along the Yulee Trail in Staunton's Montgomery Hall Park, 28 January 2023.
Another big mess
Spring has sprung! It's still January.
(The entire month of February was brutally cold -- 'cold' for the South, anyway.)
Journeys through the Tinderbox Forest
The television room, etc., on the mezzanine in the Old Y's former theatre.
Next up: Mid-winter scraps off the floor (and Sherando Lake, with water)