Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Andy Guest State Park/PaveMint/Glen Manor

For our walk this week, Ann chose Andy Guest State Park in Bentonville for the ability to take a swim in the river mid-hike. She certainly didn't plan on an almost 3-mile traverse of open ground in the blazing 97-degree heat, nor could she predict that my hip would go south on this particular walk. In the picture below, you can see the open ground to the left of the river for the entire frame of the photo: yeah, we walked that in the blazing mid-day sun, me with a gimpy hip. Bad plan. Suffice it to say that although it was a beautiful walk, there were parts of it that we hated.

Our day started about 8:30am as we entered the park off of US340 and proceeded to the Visitor's Center a couple of miles into the park to use the restrooms. Once parked there, we looked at the map and saw that the hike we planned to take started just slightly more than a mile upriver but that there was a connecting trail from the Visitor's Center to where we wanted to be. Given that our hike was only about 8.5 miles, we decided to just hoof it the extra mile for a total of about 10.7 miles on the day.

This view of the park was taken on the Overlook Trail perhaps a hundred yards north and 30 feet below the actual wood-deck overlook for which the trail is named. This view is actually prettier because it is framed by the surrounding trees. The trees have been cleared around the overlook but otherwise the view is pretty much the same. The Massanutten Mountains to the west are in the background.

South Fork Shenandoah River, Andy Guest State Park

Looking Down on Brown-Eyed Susans

Backlit Moth Mullein
Although I have been expecting to see Hoary Mountain Mint during our hikes this spring and summer, I haven't seen any until this hike. I found a huge patch of it and another of what looked to be escaped Spearmint.

Hoary Mountain Mint, Pycnanthemum incanum
These American Bellflowers were so beautiful but there was no way really to photograph them in the very dim light of the forest understory. Just to get this, I opened my lens as far as possible and backed off to the minimum focal length. Unfortunately, with this setting, there is no depth of field and getting a decent view of a gorgeous flower was nearly impossible.

Pretty American Bellflower, Campanula americana
I've been keeping an eye out for all the lobelias, but this Pale-Spike Lobelia is the first lobelia that I have seen in bloom this year.

Pale-Spike Lobelia, Lobelia spicata
There are miles and miles and miles of trails at Andy Guest State Park, more formally known as Shenandoah River State Park, some winding along the cliffs and bluffs fronting the river, some in the floodplain along the river, and some running in and out of the glens and creek ravines of the surrounding woods. We worked our way south along the river through the woods for about three and a half miles and then worked our way back along the riverbank. We stopped for lunch at an observation point, a slight tree-covered promontory in the line of bluffs a few hundred yards off the river, on the northern end of the Redtail Ridge trail.

The network of trails is well-marked on the ground, but at times, relating what we were seeing on the ground with our map and with the written description of the hike was confusing. Still, with the river as an unmistakable landmark, it was easy enough to get where we knew we had to go, despite the slight confusion.

River and Floodplain from Redtail Ridge Trail

Enjoying Lunch at the Observation Point
I got a brisket in last week and so I corned it and used it in making our lunch for the trip. As Ann said, "This would be really good with a beer."

Corned Beef and Slaw Wraps
While we were stopped for lunch, Ann spied this prickly pear just down the dry slope from us. We missed the gorgeous yellow blooms (ours at home bloomed 4-6 weeks ago), but the fruits are starting to whiten. Later on this fall, the fruits, the tunas, will go red and will be good eating for something or someone.

Eastern Prickly Pear, Opuntia humifusa, Fruits Starting to Ripen

Beat up Spicebush Swallowtail with Spoon-Like Tail
Down along the river, the long walk in the sun commenced. Although it was a great opportunity to see wildflowers and critters, we kept moving as fast as we could, given my crappy hip, to get out of the sun. At times, Ann would be thirty or forty yards ahead of me in the span of time that it took me to go ten yards.

Common Soapwort, Saponaria officinalis
Despite the oppressive heat, I confess to taking a minute to watch a group of Red-Headed Woodpeckers hawking bugs from the top of a large Sycamore and the top of another immense Cottonwood tree. Though we think of woodpeckers getting their food by pecking insects out from dead snags (or the ground in the case of Flickers), Red-Heads are unique in that they act like large flycatchers, sallying forth and taking bugs mid-air on the wing. It is very impressive to watch. I wish I could have stayed longer.

Red-Headed Woodpecker, Click to Enlarge

Successful Mission; Enlarge to See Insect in Bill

Skittish Doe; Wild Parsnip in Foreground
About a mile along the river, we came upon an opening down to the river and Ann was off, trying to cool off from the long march in the sun. She was surprised at the current in the north-flowing river. After saddling back up with another mile to go in the sun, we saw a lot more wildflowers from here on out as we veered slightly more inland from the river, but we really didn't stop to admire them as the sun was so fierce.

Cooling Off!

Butter and Eggs

A Sunflower, Jerusalem Artichoke?

Common Teasel, Dipsacus fullonum

Cutleaf Teasel, Dipsacus laciniatus

Tickseed, Coreopsis verticillata
Back at the Visitor's Center, after getting off the trail, we were brutally hot and Ann was at the point of heat exhaustion. We sat in the car with the AC blasting on full for a long time before setting off home. Ann had wanted to stop by Glen Manor on the way back, but after the hike, she just wanted to go home and who could blame her? So you can imagine my surprise when as we were pulling in to Front Royal she asked if we could go to PaveMint for a beer and lunch. Well, all right then!

Ann Liked This Dogfish Head Namaste


Fish and Chips for Ann

Duck Tacos for Ed
About a half an hour after we arrived at PaveMint, about the end of beer number one, Mike texted me that he was on his way to Glen Manor, asking if we wanted to join. Ann wanted to head home after lunch, so I demurred. Meanwhile, Kelly texted Ann asking if we would come later for a mystery tasting. Methinks Mike and Kelly were working in cahoots. And so after we finished our lunch, we headed off to Glen Manor.

Look Who We Found!
Although the tasting room closes at 5:00, the staff couldn't shoo everyone away until about 5:30 at which point we set up tables on the back patio and Kelly brought out another of her huge ("impromptu") spreads.

Pimento Cheese

Cookies; BLT Dip

Miraculously Recovered!
There were three brown-bagged mystery wines on this occasion. The first had a nose of sulfurous stone fruit and white flowers with medium gold color, good body, and OK acidity. It could have been Chenin or Viognier or a bunch of other things. It turned out to be Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. I've tasted all kinds of fruit profiles on SB except this: live and learn. The next wine had a bit of oak to the nose but wasn't very aromatic otherwise. It had plenty of body, light melon fruit, and was lacking acid. It could have been manipulated (oak/malo) Chardonnay. It turned out to be a local Roussanne. The final wine was a very aromatic red that was dull ruby going brick around the edges. The nose reminded me of cool climate Nebbiolo, but the alcohol was very high. The palate reminded me of Nebbiolo too except for the fruit was a bit too briary and extracted. I was stumped. It turned out to be 2012 Cabernet Franc from next door at Chester Gap Cellars.

Mystery Bottle: Local Roussanne

The Home Team

Jeff and His Domain, Skyline Drive in Background

The Huckster, Late Arrival to the Party
For those who know the vineyard, this photo will appear reversed; the new vines being on the north side and not the south. This is actually a picture of the vineyard reflected from the winery window.

Mirror Image of Vineyard
About dusk, the Barn Swallows made a raucous appearance, coming in to roost for the night and we knew it was time to leave. We helped Kelly clean up the mess and then made our way back home, having bitten off a bit too much today. Ann was unconscious by hiker midnight. I was soon to follow.

Barn Swallows Coming in to Roost

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