Monday, May 27, 2013

Mount Rogers Recreation Area

The Mount Rogers National Recreation Area in southwestern Virginia has been, historically, one of our favorite places to vacation. Yesterday Carole and I got up very early in the morning and headed out to make a day of it up there. We didn't want to make it a one-day excursion, but because Carole had to work Monday evening, it had to be so.

That days of spending six hours driving to enjoy eight hours of hiking are over. The stress of driving that far in one day, coupled with walking around the forests and ridges are just too much for this old man. After we got home I ended up sleeping for over ten hours. No more of that. Next time we go somewhere like that we're going to have to make it a two-day trip.

If you live here in the South and you've never been to southwestern Virginia, you have missed a tremendous amount of beauty. Carole and I have been vacationing there off and on for decades and we still have many, many places there to see. We're headed back in late August, so we'll be able to chisel off a few more of these spots on our way to exhausting the list.

This trip, however, was to scope out some good places to park our travel trailer for our vacation in August. Carole will spend the days at camp while I got wandering around the high country and in search of waterfalls (the area is packed with waterfalls, most of them on no published list that I have ever seen).

Here, then, are some photos from our day trip.

The high, open country is the main reason people flock to this recreation area. Because of this, the high meadows can actually get crowded with humans. Rubbing elbows with people is not why I go to the wild places.

As I was hiking around the forests around Grindstone, I was reminded that this is the tail-end of ramp season! So I scurried around in the forest floor looking for this relative of the garlic. In no time at all I had a fist full of them ready to be grilled in aluminum foil over the coals.

Carole in the summit of one of the Pinnacles in Grayson Highlands State Park.

Oh, my Appalachian high country!

Hardwood forests trying to recover from the rape of timber companies.

Fiddleheads! Edible, but I've never tried them.

Carpet of wildflowers on a high ridge.

A typical Appalachian stream.

In a few more weeks these rhododendron blossoms will be truly gorgeous.


dogboy443 said...

Fiddleheads are great. I have them every Spring. A quick blanch in hot water, then a quick ice bath and then let them dry and a quick saute with butter, salt, pepper and some garlic. A squirt of lemon juice is also good.

James Robert Smith said...

Man! I need to give them a try! I've been meaning to cook some for years, but never have.

MarkGelbart said...

That is some beautiful country.

You're lucky you get more hiking time than driving. Usually, for me it's more like 6 hours of driving vs. 1 hour of hiking before I hear, "It's too hot (or too windy, too cold), the mosquitoes are eating me alive, I have to go!"

I love beef and leek soup and also potato soup with lots of leeks or ramps in them. Leeks are an expensive vegetable, so finding them for free in the woods is like finding money on the ground.

James Robert Smith said...

You need to have some folk along to keep your family occupied while you go hiking. I know the feeling. One thing that takes the pressure off of me is that we bought the travel trailer which gives Carole a very comfortable spot to rest while I hike all day long. Another thing that works is to go with another family who can keep your family occupied as you head into the hills and forests. That also has worked for me.

James Robert Smith said...

Re: ramps. They have a truly unique taste. There is a vague garlic flavor there, but not quite the same. I love them. To me, the best way to prepare them is the first way I was exposed to them--grilling in aluminum foil with beef. Holy heck they are great that way.