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.

The Lake Sherando 'cliff trail', in reverse

The 'Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains' (11 January 2024)

We're regular visitors to Lake Sherando, mostly out of season -- sometimes just to walk the lakeside trail, sometimes to read for a while on our favorite bench, but more often to walk the 'cliff trail'. In the off season the road to the south end of the lake, with the visitors' centre, swimming beach, and picnic stuff, is barricaded, but if there's no snow we can come up the back road to the dam. Which is where we are now.

The lake is fed by the North Fork Back Creek, which is controlled by a spillway and runs in an orderly manner down to the Back Creek at Rte 664 Mt Torrey Rd. But . . .

. . . surprise, the little bridge is out of commission, and . . .

. . . the little walkway to the western part of the lakeside trail is overwhelmed.

Enough water and debris to sweep you into the soup, down to the Back Creek, out to the South River, then the Potomac. And get your sneakers sopping wet. We'll pass.

The old North Fork Back Creek is out of its banks.

So no west side Lakeside Trail today.

Even the overflow pipe is nearly out of its banks as well.

So, Plan B.

It looks like a couple of tons of forest debris has been swept down here to the dam.

Normally we walk down to the far end of the lake and start up the cliff trail on the long easy ascent to the high point over the so-called 'cliff' (mainly a zig-zag path down amongst lots of fallen boulders), and toddle down to the end of it here at the dam.

Today, however -- for our first time ever!! -- we're going to walk it in reverse. An adventure!


The uphill path is not really all that Upish.

Ah, there's a cliff.

The trail probably only rises about 250 meters above the lake level, as a guess.

Little toleration for the stragglers?

A few more zigs, and zags, and we're beginning to top out.

Soon to . . .

. . . start down again, the longish descent to the Visitors' Centre.

Little toleration for stragglers.

Passing back down toward the lake now.

And after a while, over the swimming beach . . .

. . . to the end of the cliff trail

The beautiful lake, in advantageous light, with the little island smiling at us

The Visitors' Centre, in the classic CCC architecture. We've never actually seen it staffed, but there is a gift shop and what not in the high season. There are a large number of popular camping spaces for tents and RVs spread northward up through the forest, and this is part of the facilities.

A little info

The Williams Branch of the North Fork Back Creek, also 'in spate' and rushing past the main carpark . . .

. . . to join the lake near the mass of picnic tables and barbecue gear.

The North Fork itself, virtually stagnant here, as the inflow has been routed over to the Williams Branch

We need to pause for a while to see if the tadpoles are up and at it yet. But it's too early.

Those are our favorite reading benches, when the weather's a little warmer, the best ones for catching the afternoon sun.

A little stairway up to the lakeside trail on the east side

The pleasant island

The water level's high here, too. Normally there are a smattering of serious fisherpeople perched by the water's edge along the trails, but the place is entirely deserted today.

Back to the dam

Further explorations

The primary spillway, and waterfalls that we've never seen before . . .

. . . presumably cascading over the west side trail that's about 30 metres above the lake at this point.

We're starting to freeze out here in the wind. Dash to the car.

Down the steps and get the heater on.

Through Sherando town, spread all along the roadway, and Lyndhurst, to the I-64 Interstate.

It's very rural here.

We always try to be prepared to photograph this chap's latest collection of imaginative rebel flag variations, but the wind needs to be blowing in the right direction.

Anyway, there's no lack of rebel battle flags to photograph round here. But we still find them funny.

A stop-in at Gypsy Hill Park in Staunton, and a look at some of the Christmas season displays . . .

. . . put up by local organizations.

Melvin is mightily attracted to nature shows on the telly . . .

. . . especially about birds.

He can sit for hours, enrapt.

Downtown Staunton in a wintry drizzle

Melvin also enjoys European cop shows.

Next up: A slow unwinding of rather a tedious springtime

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 13 February 2024.

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