Dwight Peck's personal website

Spring 2024 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.

A few last foresty walks before heading out to the Great Midwest

A return to the Fern Gulley, 28 April 2024

We're here at the well-planned trails in the overgrown woods of Staunton's Montgomery Hall Park, and we commence with an exuberant trot down the Scout (or 'Blue') trail, bound for the new liaison path up the Fern Gulley.

Mating roots

A labor of love, evidently, useless but durable

The genuinely scuzzy pink bench, placed here as a joke apparently

After half an hour's semi-brisk walking, we arrive at the base of the Fern Gully.

That's a fern. The little coiled up ends of the branches are uncoiling now, as nature intended.

At the top of the Fern Gulley, we've joined the 'MHP Expressway' (or Yellow Trail) and are very circuitously heading back towards our carpark.

The woodland flowers are out now (no idea what these are called).

Working our way back into the more jungly part of the forest.

The parasites' paradise

It's a seriously hot day, but cooler in the woods.

The Expressway Trail, so called because it's primarily intended as a mountain bike course, shares the premises with a few of the fairways of the park's Disk Golf layout.

Wandering off the trail could be dangerous in all this choking greenery, but it's also virtually impossible to wander off the trail.

-- Look here! Get a photo!

Two photos, in fact. (Their names, carefully explained, have already been forgotten.)

The wonders of nature

We've passed the liaison to the shorter Yulee Trail back to the carpark, having decided almost unanimously to persist along the convoluted and much longer top end of the Expressway. It's a fine day for it.

Mind your head.

Another Disk Golf 'basket' and fairway

-- No straggling.

Trail maintenance

-- No straggling.

We're nearly there.

Back to the southern carpark -- an hour and a half of healthful exercise in pleasant surroundings.
(Except for the tick bite, which was, however, benign.)

A new hideout for Choupette

We have to promise not to tell anyone.

Melvin is less inclined to be hiding out in unlikely places.

-- So how was your day?
-- Okay.

Melvin's enthralled by a documentary on how the ancient Egyptians harnessed the Nile, and . . .

. . . how the ancient Chinese unified their empire.

A new pizza place opening soon, just a few blocks over

Possibly our last tramp through the Augusta Springs Wetlands reserve for the season, 30 April 2024

The fine old promenade of stately, wrinkly trees looks to be nearing their sell-by date -- there are branches dropping off and some machinery in the carpark evidently brought here to make some interventions.

US Forest Service's Augusta Springs Wetlands Reserve seems to be in the middle of a protracted rehabilitation project.


Last fall there were machines out here clearing out the overgrowths of invasive species -- the whole wetland reserve was infested by the Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), a high-ranking invasive weed, and in a 'cooperative project' involving the US Forest Service, the Virginia Dept of Wildlife Resources, and Ducks Unlimited, the whole meadowy area has been cleared out, presumably to be replanted by we don't know what.


Back into the forest a ways, this is a short bypath onto a dirt road winding past here which the government would really like us not to trespass on. (There's a government training ground over that way for the 'Interagency Hotshots Crews' of fire fighters.)

Up onto the spine of the ridge, and . . .

. . . nearly there.

The marked Uplands Trail crosses over here and goes steeply down the other side -- steeply enough to trigger vigorous protests from aging knees, so . . .

. . . we usually make use of this unmarked trail descending more gently down the spine of the ridge.

We're back onto the main trail now, and passing this paradoxical scene. We're not permitted to go there, but a bridge has been thoughtfully provided anyway.

A dinosaur skeleton looming out over the central pond . . .

. . . which sort of unites the reserve spread out all round it.

Time for a half hour or so of reading our books, until we decide that it's got too hot out here.

That's enough for today.

Next up: Inevitably, a few more last foresty walks . . .

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

Recent Events