Monday, June 6, 2016

Dickey Ridge/Glen Manor Vineyards

The forecast for Sunday was miserable—80% chance of thunderstorms all day—yet by 10:00am none of these storms had materialized, though it had rained during the night and sprinkled at times through the early morning. We finally decided, late though it was, to risk the weather and take a brief hike. Ann decided we should go to the Dickey Ridge Visitor's Center in Shenandoah National Park and walk the trails originating there. We scrambled to put together some lunch and refill our water bottles, upsetting the poor brown dog.

"You're Leaving Me Again. I Just Know It."

Two trails originate directly across the Skyline Drive from the Dickey Ridge Visitor's Center, the Fox Hollow Trail and the Snead Farm Loop, both of which join the Dickey Ridge Trail and run concurrently with it in places. We intended to take the longer Snead Farm Loop first and then do the Fox Hollow Trail or move to some other nearby location for another hike. After a chance meeting with a young ranger at the trailhead, because of an encounter that he just had with a somewhat aggressive bear on the Snead Farm trail, he suggested that we go straight down the hill and not to the right. We didn't know at the time that he had directed us down the Fox Hollow Trail but it quickly became obvious as we continued to bend north on the trail and not south as we had planned.

I can report that the very easy Fox Hollow Trail is really not worth hiking. Given the rainy conditions (it sprinkled a little bit during our walk), we found the trail very slippery. And aside from this toad, there really wasn't much to see other than the small Fox family graveyard. Given the low altitude (right around 2000 feet) and the full leaf canopy, nothing was in bloom on this trail.

Ann's Quick Eyes Spotted This Toad
We made the quick loop back around to the Visitor's Center and then bore right onto the Snead Farm loop. After a half a mile or so, it opened onto a fire road and there were a lot more flowers in bloom along this road.

A Tiny Geranium

Ox-Eye Daisies Are in Full Bloom Now

White Campion Was Everywhere Sunny

Red Clover is Found in Small Patches

Just a Few Roses Still in Bloom

A Particularly Handsome Prostrate Ranunculus
After reaching the fire road, we quickly came upon the Snead Barn, which was abandoned in the 1950s. There's nothing particularly photogenic about it, but apparently Black Vultures are nesting in the second floor. One dove out a window as we approached the barn and landed a few feet away. I could hear more commotion inside.

Cooling Off in a Creek at Snead's Barn

Black Vulture Nesting in the Barn
At the barn where the road ended, we headed back into the woods on a trail which started to climb a bit and the trailside fauna changed as we headed up.

A Penstemon, Don't Ask Me Which

Asclepias quadrifolia, Fourleaf Milkweed

Euphorbia pubentissima, False Flowering Spurge
As we neared the highpoint of Dickey Ridge, a brief opening in the trail afforded us a beautiful view of the Shenandoah Valley looking towards Browntown. And in this opening, we found masses of a beautiful white spurge in bloom.

Near the High Point of Dickey Ridge, Looking Northwest

Near the High Point of Dickey Ridge, Looking West
From the high point, it was mostly downhill all the way back to the Visitor's Center where we were parked. The downhills always bother my knees more than the uphills. Once back at the car we had only done about 6 and a half miles, not a very long day. Ann wanted to do something but wasn't sure what. As we were leaving the Park, Ann asked, "Hey, do you want to go to Jeff and Kelly's?" Given that it was only 2:30, why not? Fifteen minutes later, we were at the winery where we got a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to enjoy outside. Kelly joined us when she could and we caught up for a couple of hours before we headed back to Winchester.

Tasting the New 2015 Sauvignon Blanc

The Vineyard and the Ridgeline Where We Hiked

Beautiful Afternoon to Sit Outside

Kelly Brought us Some Chocolates

Gorgeous Delphinium at the Winery

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