Anatomy of a Bridge

** This is a scheduled post  from a ride one week ago. As you read, I am in full Get Out The Vote mode! **

Another Sunday Ride. Another Old Bridge.

Something is definitely right in my world when I get to ride the bike two weekends in a row.  The rides haven’t been long but during this busy time in my life, I’m thrilled just to be riding on our beautifully curvy Southwest Virginia roads.

We were also able to explore another old bridge.  With this one no longer in use, we were able to take our time checking it out.

I thought of Joe as I photographed all of the rust, and as we looked at the many parts of the bridge, I couldn’t help but wish that I knew more about civil engineering.

 

I also loved the contrast between the man made structure and the natural world.

Soon enough we were back on the bikes and enjoying the wind in our faces.

As always, we ended the ride with a cold craft beer and this time, a brick oven pizza.

It was the perfect way way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Hiking Buffalo Mountain

Thank goodness for friends who encourage you to add fun to the calendar, and Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker makes sure that we do.

A couple years ago, Karen started a hiking club for women of all ages and hiking abilities, and while the group often ventures out during the week, Karen makes sure to plan a weekend hike several times yearly for those not retired.   In addition, she schedules the date for those hikes several weeks in advance so that we make sure to set aside the time.

“Buffalo Mountain is one of the most significant natural areas in Virginia.  The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth”.

Karen suggested that we arrive early knowing that it would not be long before the trail became crowded.  The image below is the parking area that morning.  By the time we left a few hours later, the place was packed with cars jockeying for position in what few parking spaces were available.

It was a gorgeous fall day and the hike to the summit, while up hill the entire way, was only a mile.   What an incredible view!

The 4 of us have hiked together before and the comraderie, the combination of silence and talk, and the excitement of being outdoors is a great fit.

Being on top of a mountain is exhilarating and I scrambled around the rocks like a child, at one point losing my lens cap over the ledge.

Beth sent me these images and I’m sharing them because they reveal the feeling of being on top of the world.

The shale and rock were beautiful and while this image doesn’t show it well, the flecks of color glittered in the sunshine.

Climate change has affected the color of the leaves this year, but the beauty remains.

All in all, a wonderful day on Buffalo Mountain.

Please visit Karen’s blog post about our day and read about the kind folks we met along the way.

A”maze”ing Channels

We knew that we’d have a great hike and incredible views when we visited The Channels Natural Area Preserve, and we even knew that there would be some interesting sandstone formations to explore.  What we didn’t know was just how very cool those formations would be.  We simply could not help ourselves and kept exclaiming out loud with every turn.  As Karen said, the place brought out the inner child in all of us.

According to several online sources, the sandstone outcroppings were formed 400 million years ago.

Geologists conclude that the Channels were likely formed while the high elevation sandstone cap was under the influence of permafrost and ice wedging during the last ice age.

 The expanding ice fractured the sandstone and water slowly spread and smoothed the breaks over millions of years.

“What is left is a labyrinth of slots and crevices through the rocks. The pathways range from 20 to nearly 40 feet deep and wind their way through damp, moss-covered walls of stone” (https://virginiatrailguide.com/2016/10/23/great-channels).

Aren’t the colors incredible?

Check out the way these tree roots are stretching for moisture,

and the ferns growing amidst the cracks in the rocks.

We laughed and exclaimed and explored and were utterly happy with the experience.

For more information about The Channels, visit the previous two posts.

The Channels

If you’ve visited  The Unassuming Hiker this week, you have already been introduced to The Channels, a gorgeous, 721 acre natural preserve in Southwest Virginia.  The Channels Natural Area Preserve is part of a 4,836 acre State Forest that was purchased by the Department of Forestry from The Nature Conservancy in March 2008.  The preserve name is derived from the maze-like system of sandstone crevices and boulders that occur near the 4208ft. summit of Middle Knob on Clinch mountain.

With good friends along for the ride, the 2 hour drive to the trailhead was over before we knew it.  The last 30 minutes will offer an excellent ride when next I return on the bike.  Lots of curves and twisties to thrill a bikers heart!

The 3 mile hike to the top was through a lush, green forest that offered plenty of shade on this sunny, breezy day.

Once on the top, we had views that stretched for miles!  We just could not stop exclaiming about how fortunate we were to be there.

I swear, I want to be a hawk (well, except for their diet).  I want to soar!

Even though it is only early September, the color change has begun.

We were 4 very happy women: Fresh air, exercise, incredible views, and lots of places to explore.

Big thanks to Karen for offering weekend hikes for those who can’t make it during the week.

As you might guess, I took a zillion photos.  The next post will show images of the fire tower (which, or course, I wanted to climb), and the one after that will be about the sandstone channels that, when we explored them, brought out the kid in all of us.

 Choices

It’s been 5 years since I started my WordPress journey, and what an incredible 5 yrs it has been.

Somehow, through all that has happened, a motorcycle wreck, running for political office, opening a business / closing a business / opening another business, and many other things, both positive and challenging, I have managed to post, to respond to comments, and to visit and comment on your posts.

Lately though, I have just not been able to keep up.  Perhaps it’s the new job.  Maybe it’s the hours spent in civic engagement, and the resistance.  Whatever the reason, I’ve just not been able to respond to your comments on my posts.  I have, however, made a commitment to visiting and commenting on  your posts.

Know that I love and read each and every comment, but if I don’t respond in kind it is because for the time being, I’ll be spending my WordPress time visiting and commenting on your posts.  I’ll still be posting though, and hope to have a lighter schedule sometime down the road.

You have become dear friends, and my life is better for it.

♥️

New River Trail: Hiwassee Trestle

The New River Trail is a 57-mile linear park that follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way.  The rail corridor was donated to the state of Virginia by Norfolk Southern Corporation in 1986, and by summer 1987, the trail’s first four miles were opened.

The park parallels the scenic and historic New River for 39 miles and passes through four counties and the city of Galax.  The trail’s gentle slope makes it great for visitors of all ages to hike, bike and ride horseback.

The trail has two tunnels, three major bridges, and nearly 30 smaller bridges and trestles.  These photos, taken one after the other as I moved closer to the center of the bridge, are of the Hiwassee Bridge which is 951 feet in length.

The bridge allows all users to cross over the gorgeous New River.

Multiple access points to the New River Trail make it one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Southwest Virginia.  If you are ever in my neck of the woods, I’d love to take you there.  My great friend and fellow blogger Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker, can also show you around.  She and her husband section hiked all 57 miles.

Much of the text of this post was taken from the Department of Conservation and Recreation website, linked above.