Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2021-2022

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.

A January potpourri

A civic duty at City Hall; a Gypsy Hill walk; the Augusta Springs crossover trail; the Montgomery Hall Yulee trail

Choupette prepares an air-drop ambush on a toy mouse.

'The fight for truth, justice, and the American way'

City Hall, 19 January 2022. The Staunton Gang of Four, Pugs who slid into the majority on the City Council under strange circumstances, are presently (amongst other slithery matters of mystery) engaged in a purge of principled city employees, in this case with a closed session to force the resignation of the City Manager. So here we are.

In political demonstration terms, the public effect may have been weakened when half of the protestors covered the City Hall front door, and the others, the back door.

Whilst we're waiting for the low-profile fireworks to start, we're watching the 'Gum Spring Branch' emerge from under City Hall, and dive again back under the Johnson St Parking Garage, on its way to joining Lewis Creek 100 meters farther on. Under the Wharf District Parking Log. (What could go wrong?)

It may be too cold this morning for the anticipated turnout of 12,000 concerned citizens.

Having sneaked into the City Hall before the Council meeting began, we have the opportunity to watch the Gang of Four plod over a few details and then call a Closed Session. So out we go -- ah, fresh air.

It's the thought that counts for us, and of course, getting our photo on the front page of the newspaper.

That's one of the small advantages of a small demonstration. Everybody gets on the front page.

That's the Clock Tower seen from the side of the City Hall building.

Along the main drag, Beverley St., and turning up . . .

. . . on N. New St to our first-come-first-served parking lot. To dump off our huge 80-pound yellow mountain coat [way overdressed!] in the car, and set off on a brisk walk on this sunny afternoon.

A walk to Gypsy Hill Park

Striding along N. Central, we're behind the magisterial Stratton House (1894) across the Gum Spring Branch.

That's the Gum Spring Branch, having gathered up its energies round the Gypsy Hill Park and moseyed along under N. Lewis St and . . .

. . . preparing now to go mostly underground, or mostly underbuildings rather, down to join Lewis Creek. Until the next flood like the one in August 2020, when it will burst out of hiding on a ferocious path of destruction.

A refreshing variation on a pervasive cliché here in the American South

Cute houses on Churchville Ave, on our walk out to Gypsy Hill Park


The interesting huge thing, just outside the entrance to Gypsy Hill Park, was the Robert E. Lee High School from 1927 to 1984 (thus the bleachers out front). There followed the Staunton Senior Center until it was purchased, renovated, and opened as the 'Gypsy Hill Place' in 2008 with 62 various-sized apartments; in August 2021 it was purchased again and is now The Hilltop ('Independent living for seniors').

Since 2010 the ShenanArts non-profit community theatre, founded elsewhere in 1981, has occupied the restored theatre area in this building and still does.

They seem to be a majestically patriotic group of folks; that's a flag that would do any used car dealership proud.

Just across the street, adjacent to the main entrance to the Gypsy Hill Park, that's the HQ of the Stonewall Brigade Band, 'the oldest-continuous among over 2,000 community bands in the nation'. It began as the Mountain Saxhorn Band in 1855 and, with secession, marched off in 1861 with the 5th Virginia Volunteer Infantry, the 'Stonewall [Jackson] Brigade', serenading the troops and filling in as guards, couriers, stretcher bearers, and what not. Its fame spread and it was thereafter playing at presidential inaugurations, the 1893 World's Fair, much more. It's been associated with the Gypsy Hill Park since 1889.

The Gypsy Hill Park's 19th century pavilion/function room overlooking the main entrance. Gypsy Hill began as a town reservoir in the mid-19th century, but was dedicated as a civic recreational amenity in the 1890s, named 'Gypsy Hill' for nomadic Travelers who'd traditionally camped there. It's now a 214-acre expanse of recreational opportunies, from golf, fishing, baseball, tennis, dog walking, picnicking, duck-pond admiring, kiddy-train riding, skateboarding, to (newly) welcoming our household recycling with a helpful staff.

We hustle back into town to see what the rest of the day might bring. (Turned out not to be much)

That's the hind end of a complicated building that faces onto N. Lewis St up the hill.

Back to the Old Y

The Augusta Springs Wetlands 'crossover trail'

We discovered the 'crossover trail' fortuitously ten days ago or so -- it connects the 'up' of the Uplands Trail with the 'down' route, and we yearn to have a walk on it after the most recent snowfall.

A death trap -- in freezing wetlands, cleave to the boardwalks. (In fact, that's probably always sound advice.)

Great! Another boardwalk.

A discouraging watercourse to have had to leap across. But we didn't.

Allons-y! Let's go!

The frozen pond. Still frozen.

The Back Bench -- with an info plaque about the Red Fox ('POUNCE! These crafty hunters sniff out rodents, rabbits . . .', etc. [House cats?])

That's the turn-up for the Uplands Trail. But first . . .

. . . we'll pause for a look at the classic view of the central pond.

Now for the crossover trail. No tracks of predecessors and few trail markers -- we'll use Dead Reckoning.

That looks like the new trail up along the ridge -- we had inspiring communions with it just recently.

But today, we'll stick to the printed programme. As advertised.

Up around a half-intervening hill

And then, reassured by the trail marker, down


One recalls our recent crossing of the creek . . .

. . . and there it is, in its half-frozen-over glory.

We need a plan.

Not all of us need a plan, actually, if we've got cute little fashion crampons on.

But not all of us brought crampons (three pair were donated to the thrift store in Switzerland). Alas. (Jump!)

The regular Uplands path out -- here with some intrepid earlier hikers' tracks for a short ways.

A profoundly rewarding experience all round


The trail map at the carpark shows the red loop trail and the light blue Uplands Trail, and an already existing crossover path. We've helpfully added the approximate track of last week's new trail up the ridge.

Now for home

The Little Calf Pasture Hwy to Buffalo Gap . .

. . . and then the Parkersburg Turnpike, US Rte 254 to Staunton.

The Yulee/Scout hybrid trail

At the Montgomery Hall Park's southern end, we begin our walk from the parking lot below the picnic pavilions at the top of the little hill, 29 January 2022.

Now that we've discovered the rest of the vast reticulum of walking- and mountain bike-paths out here, the little Yulee Trail seems like just a 'walk in the park'. Right, of course, wrong cliché. 'A piece of cake'.

The 5th Virginia Volunteer Regiment seems to have marched through here on maneuvers -- the snowy trail is virtually a pavement.

We've passed through here so frequently that we know every drooping sick vine-ridden tree.

Turning the corner round the northern end of the Yulee Trail.

Back up the hillside below the picnic pavilions up on the left.

Forsaking the Yulee, we're crossing over to the more interesting Scout Trail for our walk's extended finale.

A zoom of the smaller of the two pavilions

Our high point, obviously

Zigs and zags down the hill, to maximize the entertainment

An instructive accompaniment for aficionados

What's next, then? A neighborhood fire and some more winter walks

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 4 February 2022.

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