Tag Archives: Blue Ridge Mountains

It’s fawn season

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Deer 1 SNP

It’s fawn season in western Virginia. This doe was seen with her fawn alongside the Skyline Drive on Wednesday. I didn’t even notice the tracking collar until uploading the picture. Since this is in Shenandoah National Park, it would be interesting to know why they are tracking and what information they are looking for.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
Shenandoah National Park
June 8, 2016

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The mountains were calling

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Skyline Drive 5 April 2016

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” –John Muir

Skyline Drive 2 April 2016
Monday was one of those days to just get away to the mountains. Nothing does that more than the heights and sights and fresh air, and so Mr. Mitchell and I headed to Shenandoah National Park and the beauty of the Skyline Drive. We were a little early since most of the facilities don’t open until April 8, but we weren’t going for that. We took a picnic lunch and began the very familiar drive climbing from Rockfish Gap to Loft Mountain, stopping at every overlook and enjoying the views that never get old, and that are still wintry at those elevations. That drive never gets old.
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High winds cause tree to fall on sleeping hiker in Blue Ridge Mountains

By Lynn R. Mitchell

The unusually high winds gusting up to 73 mph on the mountaintops of the Blue Ridge Mountains near Wintergreen Resort overnight caused downed trees including one that fell on a sleeping hiker in the wee hours of the morning.  Wintergreen Fire and Rescue posted the following about the incident:

At 2:26AM Wintergreen Fire & Rescue was dispatched to assist a female hiker on the Appalachian Trial in the area of Spy Rock Mountain. The high winds had blown down an approximate 30″ diameter tree which fell on her while she was sleeping.

While traveling to the trail head, units encountered a downed tree completely blocking the Parkway which they had to cut and remove. Crews used a specialized transport ATV to get as close as they could; however, [they] had to hike the final mile +/- on foot using a basket to carry the patient. Her fellow hikers had already extricated her from beneath the tree upon arrival of rescue crews. She arrived at the hospital at approximately 6:00AM.

While crews were preparing for their hike out, the hikers pointed out what they believed to be a mountain fire. Sure enough … currently Piney River Fire, Wintergreen Fire, and the Forestry Department are working to contain.

The winds have subsided today but downed trees and fire continue to pose problems. Be safe out there….

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Shenandoah National Park closed for weekend snowstorm

Shenandoah National Park logo 2By Lynn R. Mitchell

Shenandoah National Park located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia posted the following about the upcoming snowstorm:

We are sure those of you in the area are aware of the forecast. There is the possibility of a significant and potentially dangerous snow storm. We are planning accordingly.

Park operations will be suspended for the duration of the storm, with no search and rescue personnel on duty. Plows and other operations will resume once the storm has passed.

We are strongly encouraging those with plans to be in the backcountry to postpone. PATC cabins that are accessed via Skyline Drive will be closed.

We want all of our visitors and our employees to be safe! We will update this information as we have updates from the National Weather Service.

 Be safe.
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Historic Christmas full moon appears briefly over Shenandoah Valley

Christmas 30 full moonAfter all the rain, I didn’t think we would get to see tonight’s historic Christmas full moon. But we got a glimpse as it rose above the mountains before disappearing into the clouds, the first full moon on Christmas Eve/Day since 1977. It is an event that won’t happen again until 2034.

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And then it was gone into the clouds….

Merry Christmas!

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
December 24, 2015

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This weekend: Afton’s Bethlehem Village presents the greatest story ever told

Bethlehem starBy Lynn R. Mitchell

Afton, Virginia’s, Bethlehem Village has been around for over a decade and returns this year, much to the delight of thousands who have made it an annual Christmas tradition. One of the nation’s longest-running and largest re-enactments of the true story of Christmas, it is free and open to the public, running nightly December 18-22, 2015, from 6-9:00 p.m. On Sunday, December 20, gates will open early from 5-9:00 p.m., with an Hispanic tour at 7:00 p.m. that day.

Imagine a little village that existed long before colorful Christmas lights, reindeer, or Santa Claus. Roman Soldiers walk the streets, Wise Men appear with their camels, shop keepers are going about their everyday lives yet this village is on the brink of something immense, the birth of one who would forever change the course of human history. Experience this village as it really was. Come to Bethlehem and see for yourself the magic and wonder of the first Christmas.

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Foggy Afton Mountain

By Lynn R. Mitchell

Afton 1 fogA foggy Route 250 driving west while climbing Afton Mountain heading home to Staunton on Monday afternoon. The temperature was 39 degrees and it was drizzling rain making for messy driving conditions for the second day in a row.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 30, 2015

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The winter woods have returned to Afton & Blue Ridge Parkway

By Lynn R. Mitchell

After a particularly colorful autumn leaf show, the winter woods have returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Howardsville Turnpike can now be seen through the leafless woods from the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love the winter woods … trees are bare and you can see the forest floor. This time of year there are few people on the Parkway so it offers solitude with only the sound of the wind and the dry, rustly leaves on the ground to keep you company.

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Embracing Virginia’s fall colors along Blue Ridge Parkway and Peaks of Otter

By Lynn R. Mitchell

38The autumn leaf color was somewhat muted Saturday under overcast skies but the golds, reds, and oranges were still vibrant along the mountain ridge tops of Virginia Blue Ridge Parkway. Fall colors have been running about a week behind this year and so we have been able to stretch leaf season longer to embrace and squeeze out ever bit of this once-a-year event. Because it is fleeting, it is treasured.

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Shenandoah National Park’s October leaves are peaking — Sunday’s trek along Skyline Drive

By Lynn R. Mitchell

3It’s October and autumn leaves are peaking along the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. The Blue Ridge Mountains on the southern end of the Drive are made up of the golds of poplars, oaks, and hickories, and the reds of maples and black gums. Red sumac, Virginia Creeper, and poison ivy add to the palate that makes a drive along the ridges a beauty to behold. High winds over the weekend took a toll on some trees, stripping their leaves and leaving bare branches even as others are in full glory, and some are still green with just a tinge of color.

1Sunday’s drive from Afton to Loft Mountain was sunny with cold temps in the upper 30s and blustery winds. The bright October sun bleached out many photos as the brightness reflected off golden trees quaking in the wind.

2This is a view looking west over Waynesboro and the Appalachian Mountains in the distance.

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5Loft Mountain campground had many bare trees but also some that were still showing color, and yet others that were beyond peak and turning brown. At mid-day on Sunday, most campers had packed up and left with a few scragglers who were in the process of getting those last few items in the car. The smell of campfires permeated the cold air and completed the ambiance of the mountain top.

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11Every hiking area was filled with parked vehicles including Riprap where hikers filled the lot and then began parking on the shoulder of the Drive. There was even an activity bus from RVA’s Collegiate School in the parking lot.

12As we left, there was a line of visitors waiting at the entrance station. Prepared for the expected October peak weekend crowd, there were two rangers / volunteers at the two fee windows, and two more working this line of cars to collect entrance fees and speed up the process. We are grateful to live so close because we are able to head to the Park anytime — it’s just a short drive from our house — but we are also mindful that many have only their weekends to drive a long distance and enjoy the beauty we never take for granted. I may have to head to Big Meadows later this week as peak color moves north along the Blue Ridge Mountains. All too soon, it will be over. It’s fall in Virginia….

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
October 18, 2015

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Fall vegetable garden still has tomatoes, peppers

By Lynn R. Mitchell

2After almost two weeks of rain, we checked out the garden today to see what had survived the weather. Today’s deep blue skies and bright sunshine are a contrast the rain and fog that had become the norm for the end of September and beginning of October.

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Pat Haley: ‘We smiled as we left Staunton, Virginia’

Pat Haley 2By Patrick Haley
Guest Post

Thomas Wolfe said, “You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to places in the country, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time – back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.”

We did, in a sense, go home again, at least for seven days. Staunton, Virginia, is not our hometown, but was home to Brenda and me for twelve of the happiest years of our lives. We spent the whole week in Staunton. We saw old friends and journeyed to the Gypsy Hill Park, Staunton Braves Stadium, and Wright’s Dairy-Rite where car hops still come out and take your order. Little has changed from the day it opened in 1952.

As we walked the winding hills in town, up past Trinity Church, and up the street to Mary Baldwin College, wonderful things began to happen. We remembered our motor scooter rides around town, and how Doc Haley, our poodle, used to sit under our large maple tree and listen to the Robert E. Lee High School band practice. The memory made us smile and nod.

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It feels like fall in the Blue Ridge Mountains

By Lynn R. Mitchell

9The Blue Ridge Parkway around milepost 4 in Virginia. Fall-like temp at mid-day was 53 degrees — sweaters and sweatshirts were on tap on this mid-September Sunday.

10Looking over Stuarts Draft / Augusta County in the Shenandoah Valley. In the distance are the Alleghany Mountains.

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Black bear ambles into Humpback Rock picnic area

By Lynn R. Mitchell

6Sunday afternoon in Humpback Rock picnic area, as families grilled and set up picnics on tables scattered throughout the wooded mountainside on the Blue Ridge Parkway, an unexpected — or perhaps not so unexpected — visitor showed up to sniff the air and look for hand-outs. The young black bear had discovered easy pickings in an area populated by people and … food.

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