It’s been an unusually wet spring, but with enough sun to make flowering plants very happy, it seems.  And several different hikes this month have offered varying vistas and plant varieties.  Early in the month, Holly’s sister-in-law Lonni (and her two dogs) and I hiked along the Appalachian Trail a ways up The Priest, and found, as we had hoped, Mountain Laurel in bloom.  (As always on this blog, click on individual pictures for a larger image.)

Shortly afterwards, I hiked the Fortune Cove trail on the other side of the county with a new friend, Jim, where beautiful stands of mountain laurel were likewise in bloom.

With almost perfect timing in the third week of May, our friend Sue and I hiked up Spy Rock, with  great views and with a quite extraordinary abundance of wildflowers along the trailside on the way up.

Click here for pictures of some of the wildflowers along the trail

At the foot of the rock dome, the Flaming Azalea were spectacular, with Rhododendron just beginning to bloom:

As always, the challenge of climbing Spy Rock was rewarded with fabulous vistas.







Upgrading, Clearing Out, and Selling Holly’s House at Lake Monticello


This process dominated our lives between March and May.  We benefited from help from John and from our lawn cutter and friend, Joe, who donated his truck and labor to help us move the larger items.  The good news at the end was 1) that the house sold quickly once it was put on the market; and 2) Holly and her belongings are now fully ensconced in our mutual home in Roseland, Nelson County.  We’re relieved, happy, and loving life.

Exploring Crozet Tunnel

This railway tunnel, which was constructed at great financial and human cost, opened in 1858 and was the longest tunnel in the United States at that time.  After years of decay and vandalism, it is being reconstructed as a Rail to Trail Project.  We were lucky to be able to join a “Hops and Headlamps” occasion to explore the first 4/5 of a mile the dark and yet-to-be lightened tunnel.  The various tour groups collected and were transported from and back to the various participating Nelson County breweries and wineries.  A fascinating and sobering experience–and a nice day off from moving.

Crabtree Falls after a Wet Spring

I hiked this long-favored trail while Holly was away at a knitting retreat. The high water made for many new and unique vistas.

My first grandson, Felix, was born on July 8, 2016, while Holly and I were taking our honeymoon cruise in the Mediterranean.  We got to see Felix for the first time at Nic and Alison’s place in New Haven in August, and then once again at Christmas at Tim and Megan’s.  So it was a big deal to host Felix and his parents at our place for two nights this April!  He is, as all his admirers say, adorable, always with a smile on his face. Wonderfully good-natured.  In addition to hanging out at our place, we took a walk around nearby Sherando Lake, ending up afterwards, via the rough remains of the old Howardsville Turnpike, at Blue Mountain Brewery. (It was Devils Backbone Brewery the next day.)



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Above: Preparing for Thanksgiving.  Tim and Megan arrived on Wednesday, and we had a Mediterranean-style fish soup (and a copious amount of wine) that evening.

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A walk on Thanksgiving morning; Megan with Lonni’s dogs, Gloria and Draco.

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Constance, Lonni and John joined us for a mid-afternoon dinner Thanksgiving day. Played the card game “Recipe” in the evening.

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The next morning, John and Tim joined me in taking “The Plunge Trail,” at Wintergreen, with great views of the Rockfish Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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And that afternoon, a hike along the Blue Ridge Railway Trail, followed by a visit to our friends Kathy and Tom (who shared his amazing collection of player pianos).

On Sunday afternoon, Holly and I checked out Wood Ridge Farm Brewery on the eastern side of Nelson County.  Situated on a functioning farm which produces all the ingredients that go into its beer, the brewery offers “dirt-to-glass beers, with all the ingredients (malts, grains, hops, yeasts, etc.) grown on site.  The brewery and tap room is rustic, with gorgeous views in all directions from the windows, porches, and decks.  I’d never had a “shandy” beer before, but we both particularly liked that one.  A nice relaxed ending to our lovely Thanksgiving weekend.

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In early October, our friend Sue Rucker and I took my favorite hike in the area: up Spy Rock, with its incredible 360 degree view.  I never tire of this amazing place, and it always saddens me how the great majority of Appalachian Trail through-hikers choose to bypass this brief side trip, apparently obsessed with logging as many miles as possible on a given day.  Since it was fall, the majority of through-hikers were coming from the north, having begun their end-to-end trek on Mt. Katahdin in Maine.  We had a pleasant conversation with one hiker who took the trouble to climb the rocky knob, but the rest that morning were nowhere to be seen.  The view, as always, was spectacular.


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In mid-October, my friend Bob Abbott and I climbed Old Rag Mountain, an “eastern outpost” of the Blue Ridge.  I had climbed it years ago on a quite lengthy day-hike from the  Blue Ridge Parkway and back.  Our climb, though shorter, was surprisingly demanding, with a variety of deep crevasses, narrow rock passageways, and a variety of other challenges unique to this impressive peak.  It had its challenging moments, but Bob and I had a great time and completed the nine mile circuit that leads up and over the summit and then down the other side.  The weather was perfect and the views breathtaking.


For more pictures of our hike, click here

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Readers of this blog may have recognized that Spy Rock is my favorite Nelson County hike.  I can’t remember how many times I’ve climbed it to enjoy its incredible 360 degree view, mostly of Blue Ridge wilderness.  This was my second time with Holly.  A lovely October day.

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My niece Emily stopped by for a brief visit as she was relocating from Chicago to Florida.  We had a great time catching up and found enough time to take The Plunge trail at Wintergreen, which leads steeply down to an overlook with striking views eastward across the Rockfish Valley and to the Blue Ridge Mountains to the southeast.

click here for more pictures posted to Facebook (no login required)




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Cold Mountain, in neighboring Amherst County, has a long sloping meadow plateau extending north from its 4022 foot summit, which often reminds hikers of a similar scene in the play and movie, Sound of Music.  I’ve hiked it several times before, but this was the first time with Holly.  Despite its magisterial views, it is a fairly easy hike just over a mile from the north along the Appalachian Trail from a forest service road.  A great place for a leisurely picnic!

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This past summer Holly took me up to the Delaware eastern shore to meet her longtime friends Barb and Robert.  We had a delightful time and in early October they visited us.  In addition to an antique show in the Shenandoah Valley, we took them to The Plunge hike at Wintergreen and enjoyed a picnic lunch and a walk around Sherando Lake on a beautiful fall day.  Later: Dinner with two of Holly’s sisters.

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