Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2023-2024

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.

Scenes from some winter walks near Staunton, Virginia

A snowless first half of December 2023

First, the Montgomery Hall Park 'Jungle'

Our favorite local walk is in the Montgomery Hall Park 'jungle', three marked trails (with very little chance of wandering off them) of 45 to 70 minutes duration and possibilities for combining parts of one with another.

This is, for example, the Scout or Blue Trail along the edge of the park for a while, and we've been experimenting with starting from what's been the end of it for us round to the beginning, 12 December 2023.

Now we've crossed over to the Yulee or Red Trail, making for the . . .

. . . Expressway or Yellow Trail, affectionately known to us as the Jungle Trail.

So it's good to be home again.

Choupette's standing sentinel duty for us up in the study on the mezzanine.

The Augusta Springs Wetlands Reserve

One of our other local favorites is the US Forest Service's Augusta Springs Wetlands Reserve, recently shorn of much of its overgrown vegetation which (we were told) was all composed of alien invasive species and will be restored to its native growths soon. 8 December 2023

Round the groundlevel pond and boardwalk is at best a 15-20 minutes walk, but we prefer to go up the Uplands Trail in a number of variations, which will normally come to about an hour of casual walking.

And, as with the Montgomery Hall jungle, we're varying our programme a bit this time by taking the main upland trail instead of our usual walk on the unmarked trail up the spine of the ridge, oh, this will be so fun.

This is the main trail up onto the ridge, whence it drops down the other side of the ridge back to the carpark

We speculate that this might have been a enjoyable carriage track for the guests of the fancy hotel/spa that was operated down by the springs in the 19th century.

Down the other side, not far from the trail, there are 5 or 6 vintage cars dumped in the woods somehow and left to rust away, but one does find various odds and ends rusting away up here as well.

We're at the upland crossover to the descent part of the trail, but instead . . .

. . . we're turning off today to descend by the unmarked trail down the spine of the ridge.

Several attractive twists and bends along the trail, and just as much fun in the winter as in spring and autumn (we're never here in the summer).

Now we're down to a marked crossover trail from one end of the Uplands Trail over the lower end of the ridge to the other end.

All's good fun, excepting only that we're going have to cross the creek at the bottom of this.

Luckily, there's scarcely any water in the creek. Just cloggy mud.

Success for one of us. But what about the other one.

We do hate mud so much -- brand new sneakers!

No worries, we've popped out onto the main trail around the pond, and there it is.

We're doing this in retrograde as well, just to keep the gods guessing.

The chaps with the big machines didn't leave much of that nasty Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata). Soon all will be well again.

It's still a disconcerting experience, seeing it all close shorn like Samson (before the miracle).

We don't know what the authorities are planning, nor when. Well, spring's coming and all will be revealed.

There's a drought on round here, but our little wetland is hanging on happily.

Back in Staunton and out for a little stroll down towards the train depot, there's an unexpected sight. Amish!

No, it's just a tourist opportunity associated with someone at the Farmer's Market, perhaps with explanations of the sights. This is, after all, 'Historic Staunton'.

Every once in a while, Choupette gets into a mood and taunts us. She knows that she's well out of our disciplinary range out there.

She just blithely ignores all of our entreaties, and chortles quietly to herself.

But we know that she's always bluffing. (As long as Melvin doesn't trot there, too, and they get to wrestling.)

It's nearly mid-December and well past time for Kristin's crèche pieces acquired over many years in Naples.

Back to the Montgomery Hall Park's 'Jungle'

We just can't stay away.

It's a wee bit colder today, but still no snow, and sunny out just for us. 12 December 2023

The same itinerary today, i.e. backwards, still on the Scout Trail in the beginning.

And over Black Dog Mountain

With views of the farm land to the west

Soon we will turn up onto the Yulee Trail, but first . . .

. . . we must memorialize this noisy Piliated Woodpeck. (Sorry, no zoom lens on this old iPhone.)

This crude tepee is our signal to prepare to change tracks . . .

. . . right here

Onto the Yulee Trail and into . . .

. . . the Jungle! The MHP Expressway (intended mainly for mountain bikers, but we're welcome as well).

By this time, after a near-infinitude of trips through here, we know nearly every step of the way.

And we needn't be warned to 'stay on the trail'.

Some further scenes follow ........

Mind your head!

Here's the rock garden, down that little branch trail and facing out to the Montgomery Hall proper, once the seat of a grand landowner out here, now the offices of the city's Parks and Recreation Department. We bypass this and . . .

. . . persist.

Nearly there.

That's our carpark, south end of the park, facing the 'MHP Soccer Complex'.

Two cats waiting patiently for the next bus

-- Kids, the bus doesn't run here anymore.

-- Ignore him. It will be coming along soon.

Next up: Back to Wisconsin for a special party and a wintry reconnoitre

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 29 January 2024.

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