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.

An expedition to the Fern Gulley with our new camera

We've been through our various trail-combinative walks in Staunton's Montgomery Hall Park very often, but this time our firm intention is to give our brand new camera a proper test. All of our old little point-and-shoot Lumixs, Fujifilms, Sonys, Canons, and Nikons, over the past 20-odd years, are out in the landfills at present, but we were urged by everyone we knew to go with the superior functions of the iPhone. And we were provided with a venerable iPhone 8. Good enough for our purposes, but it had no zoom function.

So here we are today, 18 April 2024, in the carpark of the Montgomery Hall Park jungle, preparing to try out our new iPhone 13 to see if it's as good as advertised. It wasn't cheap! [Xfinity offered a trade-in on our iPhone 8 of $12.]

[There's no need for a newer iPhone version, we only want this thing for the camera, the phone, and the weather reports. We don't do apps.]

Another fascinating tour through a few of the woodland trails of Staunton's Montgomery Hall Park -- we're starting from the southern parking lot up the Scout blue trail, with such anticipation!

That was until recently a huge log across the path, with a dirt ramp up the side of it for the mountain bikers. There must have been some complaints -- it's just been hacked out.

Up towards the trail system's high point at . . .

. . . the Black Dog Mountain sign.

Now a comfortable long descent westward towards . . .

. . . the boundaries of the park, looking out over the agricultural landscape with . . .

. . . the Alleghenies about 20 miles off.

Our party is clearly impatient.

The Alleghenies rise to a max height of 1482 meters (which coincidentally was the elevation of my little chalet in Switzerland).

We proceed. We've found a consensus that today we'll seek out the so-called 'Fern Gulley', which we discovered, with nice new signs, just recently.

We know roughly where to find it, but it will require a bit of trail-juggling to make it back before nightfall.

This the the C trail, the blue-sign 'Scout' trail, which winds imaginatively down the western side of the entire park.

But the Fern Gulley, we're given to understand (by a previous hasty visit), will transfer us up to the yellow Expressway, whence we can stumble our way back to the official liaison with the red Yulee trail in reasonably good time. So we'll see.

(Don't drop your cigarette butts here.)

This is a convenient tepee some presumably young people have created for reasons of their own, but it also marks an informal connection with the Yulee trail just up to the right.

But we're commited to experiencing the Fern Gulley.

We're pausing once or twice to reconsider and speculate about how much farther we need to go for this elusive gulley.

But we're resolved.

The Blue Trail must eventually lead us right to it.

-- Nice new flowers along the way.
-- Okay.

That's an amusing jokey adornment of the trail -- if you sat on it, you'd be well stuck to it.

This is familiar -- we're nearly there, surely.

And here it is.

Prominently identified with an attractive new trail sign

-- Look. A fern!

We've no idea what refined sensibility amongst the park staff suggested this innovation.

But do we really know what these ferns look like?

-- Don't be silly. Those are ferns. Little spirally bits and all. They're all over the place here.

(Neat, sort of.)

Now we're topping out of gulley onto the Expressway trail . . .

. . . with a complicated arrangement of ins and outs and ups and downs . . .

. . . hoping to find out where we really are. That's important, after all.

We'll just keep it moving, and stop complaining.

-- The entire park is only 800 x 800 meters, what's taking us so long?

-- You are.
-- Oh. Sorry.

Back among the fierce greenery and . . .

. . . the drooping parasiticals.

Glad we weren't here for that.

Here we are at the only offical liaison point, and . . .

. . . we can now leap over to the Yulee trail and head for home.

At a brisk pace, this section of trail to the carpark is just an 8 or 9 minutes affair. The 'brisk pace' part is the unknown quantity.

Bring your machete.

It's quite levelish through this part, for which we are thankful.

We've just been reliably informed that those pathetic flowers are so-called 'phlox'.

Here we stand upon the shorter Yulee trail and notice about 20 meters off a lobe of the coiled up Expressway trail.

-- Are we having fun yet??

The familiar last bit . . .

. . . where the entrances to both trails meet

Red and Yellow

Stumbling out at hike's end

And behold our lovely Volvo, faithfully awaiting our return.

Ouch. That's a pretty strong zoom, and it's kind of crap. We'll need to investigate the limits of this $660 toy a little further.

That's a few of the athletic fields offered by this wonderful civic park. And we haven't even mentioned the Disk Golf course.

We're back home, in the free little carpark just behind our Old Y condo building. Convenient when we can find a place, but frequently crammed up from mid-morning on -- we're one block up from the town centre. The joke here is that this was a central downtown paying parking lot but the pay machine broke, and over the past five years no one's found a worthy replacement; the ticket meter's been covered with black plastic bags ever since.

That's the reception area of the highly recommended Frederick House 'small hotel', which consists of several other houses in the neighborhood, like . . .

. . . like this one alongside it.

Next up: Another Staunton walkabout: the Gospel Hill District

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 April 2024.

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