Dwight Peck's personal website

A long, slow advent of spring '24 in western Virginia

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.

Views of a couple of foresty walks in early April 2024

But first: by all appearances, Spiderman is hanging out below our windows.

Probably harmless enough

Another fascinating tour through a few of the woodland trails of Staunton's Montgomery Hall Park

We're on another of our classic trail combinations, starting out on the dauntingly convoluted MHP Expressway yellow trail, good for about 40 minutes of little ups and downs, before we transition via a little crossover opportunity to proceed with some of the shorter Yulee red trail, finishing up with a respectable length of the Scout blue trail back up to the carpark, a presumably healthy way to spend about an hour and a quarter. 7 April 2024

Glorious scenery in every direction, for those of us who relish dying trees and masses of parasitical vines, all of which lend a vivid sense of primitivity and adventure.

A fair amount of foliage out already -- give it another month or so, and it will be majestic.

The trails here are, by the way, extremely well kept up. There are something approaching 5½ miles of trails here, all wrapped cleverly around one another.

We're down the hill a ways, and starting more or less back up. But there lots of little ups and downs throughout.

In the winter, of course, this all looks profoundly different. Here's a link to a few promenades through a barren landscape last November and December 2023.

All this sometimes brings back long-forgotten memories of Jon Hall's Ramar of the Jungle and Johnny Weissmuller's, or even Ron Ely's, Tarzan.

A little more up the hill. We should soon by coming upon the trail crossover to the Yulee trail (the Expressway Trail in its entirety is about 3 miles long winding round to the far end of the park, and then you've got to wobble your way back to the carpark or call a taxi).

This is the liaison between the yellow and red trails. There'll be no need for the taxi.

On the upper end of the Yulee trail, we're beginning to emerge from the jungle settings.

The Yulee trail back up the hill, but we're soon liaising still again for the blue Scout trail for a little further excitement and . . .

. . . good views of the surrounding pasture lands to the west of the park.

Up and over the high point of the trails. Another splendid afternoon's bit of exercise.

One of life's little amusements out at Staunton's Frontier Culture Museum -- there are plans to build an indoor museum on this hillside, to complement the educational benefits of the outdoor exhibits, and a specialized firm has been engaged to cut down all the trees in the way, yank up their roots, and munch them loudly into tiny bits for carrying away. The firm's name is Arborlife.

Back to Sherando Lake

It's 10 April 2024, and time for another update on our sorry fellow citizen's latest configuration of tattered, flapping, faded ignominy.

It's been an awkward onset of spring, in a way, with some colder than usual temperatures, a few bouts of the non-covid flu, what with one thing and another we haven't been back to our favorite local walking place since early January.

The Sherando Lake Recreation Area is operated by the US Forest Service and opens to the public on 1 April, and as it's now the 10th, we're going to have to pay the day fee like everybody else. But 1) with our America the Beautiful Senior Pass, we only pay $4 per car instead of $8, and 2) there's nobody else here today anyway.

[In the off-season, we can sneak up to the dam at the far end of the lake for free. It's a back road left open for the fishing folks.]

We've come to walk up the so-called 'cliff trail.

Picnicking facilities for dozens of boom boxes with competing musical presentations to go with the burgers.
(We're never here in the summer.)

The handsome visitors' centre, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in their classic style in 1935-36.

The Williams Branch leading the North Fork Back Creek through the lake

The beginning of the cliff trail near the visitors' centre

A fairly gentle ascent for 20 minutes or so

A lookout at the high point of the trail, with a view of . . .

. . . the lake, and . . .

. . . some of the 'cliff'

Our party has moved right along without us. We'll scramble to catch up.

The trail through here consists of three long zig-zags down the hill; the photo above was the first zig, and this is the first zag.

It's time for the second zig.

And now another zag

We're not catching up with our party all that much.

Turning back for the third zig

That's the one tricky bit on the trail, an awkward step down with not much to hang onto. Well, it's got to be done.

Fewer boulders down here, and more smashed up bits of former boulders that have come loose up above and hurried down to join the collection here.

A few moments spent checking out the little bridge across the creek, under water the last time we saw it.

And the smashed up little bridge over the overflow channel alongside -- patched up a bit since we were last here, but not much.

There's the rest of our party, also inquiring into the bridges' situation.

But . . . oh surely not. It's not safe!

We can't look. This may end badly!

Now we're just embarrassed to have displayed so little faith.

Bridges or no bridges, it seems that we're preferring to walk back by the easier lakeside path, with self-satisfied smiles on.

That's just a ten minute walk on this side, perhaps twenty over on the western side where the path climbs over some cliffy sections.

The ever-so-cute little island along the east side, near the manufactured swimming beach.

An hour's walk in exceptional surroundings, and we've had the place blissfully to ourselves, how restorative.

And now back north, past the flaggy gentleman's poignant displays, to join the I-64 Interstate and be home in a jiff. Or a couple of jiffs.

Melvin's going manfully through an awful-sounding hairball attack, and Choupette shows genuine concern.

These come along regularly, Melvin's certainly got the excess fur to supply them, but they're evidently painless and never harmful.

Sharing a sun patch

A clever moving van service

Next up: An expedition to the Fern Gulley with our new camera

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 8 April 2024, updated 22 April 2024..

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