Monday, July 18, 2011
The Thornburg Tract
There are a couple of trailheads where you can enter the Birkhead Mountains Wilderness. The most popular of the two is at the Thornburg Tract. This piece of land was a working farm in the very recent past. Some government agency--I haven't figured out which one--is keeping the property cleared as a farm, even if the fields only grow hay and weeds, now. The purpose appears to be mainly to keep it open as game land, since quail and white-tailed deer both do well in such country.
The farmhouse itself is still standing and must receive at least minimal care, but it looks to be edging toward dissolution if no serious work is done to preserve it. The barns are in better shape than the main house, as I suppose they are kept up to house working machinery from time to time. One shed at the very rear of the property is actually falling apart and will soon, I suppose, be going back into the earth.
You have to hike for a quarter of a mile or so through this property before you get to the wilderness boundary. Unlike some wildernesses where I have hiked, the trails in Birkhead are signed and are maintained to keep them free of debris and undergrowth. So in that way this is a different kind of wilderness and does not stick to the true wilderness aspect. All in all, though, I plan to go back, once the ticks are gone.
As with every wilderness I've ever hiked, hunting is allowed here. However, there is a sign at the entrance to the wilderness reminding hunters that a house is very close to wilderness boundary and to take care not to shoot toward it, as it is inhabited. In addition, the home owner also erected this sign informing hunters that his children often play outside the house and to please not fire in that direction. You can see how the gun-humping sons of bitches have replied.
This is the building farthest from the house. The entire front fell off recently. I give the rest of the structure a few more months, at most.
I took this stitched panorama on my way back to the truck. You can see that the house was once quite a pleasant spot, with even a grape vineyard standing on the left.