Yes, I can go home again.
I can and I did, and it was fantastic.
While out daughter was at basketball camp this week in Blacksburg, my husband and I took the opportunity to tour the mountains of southwest Virginia and southeast West Virginia, hiking peaks and creeks and driving wonderfully winding roads.
It was heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I love living in southern Maryland – the water, the people, and especially the seafood are all excellent – but the old saying is true (for me, at least) you can take the girl out of the mountains, but you can’t take the mountains out of the girl.
My first stop was a new trail at an old haunt, Pandapas Pond. I’ve walked and hiked Pandapas and the Poverty Creek trails with most of my family members and plenty of friends and students, but the one trail I hadn’t done was the Lark Spur trail. My hubby and in-laws refer to this trail as the “rhodie trail” because they hiked it once when the rhododendrons were in full bloom. I wanted that same experience, so I kept putting off hiking it until the “right time”. So, in the four years we lived in Blacksburg, I tried to time it right every spring, and every spring I missed the window (or thought I did), and put it off till the next year. Lesson learned.
Hubby is a late sleeper, so I hit the trail alone after camp dropoff. It felt unbelievably good to be back in the mountain air, with nothing to do but follow my feet and please myself. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and the trail, though only half in bloom, was worth the wait. Here are the trail shots:
Now, as promised, the rhodies. I wish I had taken a picture of the beginning of the Lark Spur trail, but I was so entranced by the canopy of twisting branches and dark, leathery leaves that I completely forgot. It was only after the hall of rhododendron opened to sunny forest with large bushes at each side that I brought my camera out to capture these:
Right here I need to make a confession, because here is where the photographs from the Lark Spur trail end. The truth is that I had intended to hike the Lark Spur trail out to where it meets the Lady Slipper trail back to the pond, but I reached the place where the Lark Spur and Joe Pye trails connect first, and I decided (upon consulting my trail map, see below) to make the hike a little longer by hopping on the Joe Pye and walking it to where it meets the Lady Slipper. Which was a great idea, for any person who has a decent sense of direction. Unfortunately, I am not that person. I went the wrong way on the Joe Pye and hiked it all the way back to the main Poverty Creek trail and then on back to the pond. (Which made for an even longer, lovelier hike, so take that, gods of orienteering!)
So, the photos from here on out were taken on the Joe Pye trail. But, first, please open enjoy this trail map of the whole system so that you can enjoy my navigational stupidity as much as I did. Poverty Creek Trail System Map
Pandapas Pond and the Poverty Creek trail system are absolute must-hikes if you’re in the Blacksburg area, as these previous posts attest: