Monday, September 21, 2015

Cabin Creekwood Escape

Yes, I disappeared and ran away again after my last post; I was in central VA from September 8 until yesterday, the 20th. No computer, no phones, no texts, no connectivity at all. Just mountains and lakes and creeks and hiking trails. 
Primitive American art. Depicting sheep.
I figured I might be in the right place ("Cabin Barnwood") when I saw the art in the entry. Then I saw the bedroom (which was lovely, but the bed was so high that short-legged me had to jump into it every night, it was rather funny…I think I need to recommend they add a step stool to the room.

Bedroom…the window frame's not low.
The bed's really, really tall!
But it was a lovely one bedroom cabin; it had a living room area with a futon, armchair, end tables, and wood stove guests were encouraged to use at will; a full kitchen with microwave, coffee maker, full sized fridge, and so on (I brought pots and kashered the appliances); and a dining area too. There were two patios, one overlooking the creek and woody area, the other right outside the main entrance, that area having a patio table and chairs which were pristinely clean and lovely to sit at for meals, reading, and crafting. There was a fire pit area with adirondack chairs, also comfortable (though the first time I tried to get a fire going, it was after two days of pouring rain, so the best I could manage was a multi-hour "camp smolder" rather than "camp fire;" still, it lit and stayed lit). There was even a nice bench creekside where I could read or just sit and listen to the creek.
Said creek
I was a straight shot down the road from public Sherando Lake Park, operated by the National Park Service, so I spent several days there. Since it's out of season, post-Labor Day, payment was on honor system at various scattered payment booths, but that worked fine. I sat at the lake beach, which was delightful; and I walked and hiked. I hiked up one trail that essentially seemed a direct vertical line. After 25 minutes I turned around and went down.
It doesn't look as steep as it
was. But trust me. It was steep!
For one thing it was just going to keep going up, and up, and up, and for another it was predicted to begin raining that day and I knew that if it rained there was no way on earth I could possibly get down that trail except on my butt, it was the perfect flash flood spot that couldn't possibly be safely descended on foot in wet conditions. Plus I was worn out and my out-of-shape legs had had it.

Still I bravely set out a few days later on another trek uphill. This time I went up a different trail to the Lookout Rock spot, about 3/4 mile straight up hill again. I wound up having to stop every 30 paces or so to catch my breath. I imagined abashedly other hikers appearing just nonchalantly walking straight up, finding me red-faced, huffing and puffing, but fortunately I had the side of the mountain to myself the whole time. And I did reach the lookout point, and I did get a beautiful view of the lake area from above.
The view from the rock. I don't know where the other pictures went
but I did get photos of the lake from above too.

No other hikers on the trails, but these
adorable little 3" lizards were everywhere
near the summit running all over the
rocks. I got photos of several different ones
but I figured I'd just share one because
once you've seen on badly taken photo
of a little lizard, you've probably seen
all you need to see.

I have some photos also of the view from below at the beach level. It was really delightful, they truck in sand so it was nice and sandy, children had made a big pyramid sand castle one day; but because it's also the same lake stocked for boating and fishing, there are little minnows and larger fish swimming around everywhere, much more so than at other lake or ocean beaches I've ever been at. The water was clean and had no smell (which was a relief), the swimming area had no algae and the water is tested regularly, there were benches provided but people brought in their own beach or camp chairs to bring down farther on the beach. One older gentleman was having a good time one day with a fishing net, just seeing what he could occasionally scoop up and have a look at in the net and show his wife; he was waist deep, she was just dipping in her toes, but looking into the net to see what he'd found each time he had something new.
The green color is just the reflections of the sand and trees;
the water was clear and blue.

Lookout rock is 9/10 of the way up this mountainside, 1/4
of the way from the left. But it's just too small to show up in
this photo. Still, I'm impressed with myself I got up there.

The really impressive part of my having done all the hiking is that in my own personally impressive way, I broke two toes the first few days I was there. Not by doing anything strenuous, I just had a tiny slip on a rock at the cabin, slipped maybe 2", but my toes curled under at just the wrong angle. Between the broken toes, the gout in the big toe on the same foot, and the pain I usually have in my other leg, plus the fact that with my shoulder injury I have to keep a sling on to do much walking and I sprained that shoulder catching myself when I slipped and broke the toes, I give myself many extra brownie points for even venturing outdoors the rest of the trip, which in fact is when I did the most hiking. I didn't make it to the Appalachian trail, sadly, which is right there on site too, because that seemed absurd with the injuries, but I hope to be able to return to this lovely spot and go on the AT then.

I did take one other field trip, which is particularly impressive for depressed, introverted, easily-scared and anxious me, to the town of Grottoes about 35 minutes from the cabin, where there is a fabulous cavern with full one-hour tour. It's as wonderful as Luray or any of the commercial ones, but it's operated by the local municipal park service as a public park, so it's entirely non-commercial. The tour cost $15 with a AAA discount (the ticket seller asked whether I had membership in that or several other organizations, I didn't even think to ask), for the complete tour with a well-trained guide. The caverns have everything you can imagine and in fact are known for their rare shield formations, not found in most caverns and still not well understood by geologists. These caverns have been continuously toured and open for over 200 years, and there are many signatures of Civil War soldiers (from the ages when defacing such places was normal), as well as stories and depictions in the museum area of Civil War soldiers discussing the caverns and their visits. 

But the highlight of the whole trip was this, the flowers my husband sent me before the first Shabbos there to sweeten my Shabbos and send his love.

1 comment:

knitorious drivel said...

Sounds like a perfectly lovely trip (minus the broken toes and shoulder strain, of course)! And what a thoughtful, loving gesture from your husband!