April 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
November 29, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This night I did an evening mountain bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The sky was clear and the air was cold.
Crossing the railroad tracks on Pecan Street, a gigantic November moon appeared to rise directly over the tracks. By the time I got home and got my camera, the moon had moved slightly and was not quite as dramatic, but still impressive.
In the photo above, Jupiter appears as the largest star in the sky and is to the right over the moon. Airline contrails reflect the moonlight in both the foreground and background on a northeastern axis, while railroad tracks glisten from the street lamps in town on a northeastern axis.
The scene is reminiscent of The Polar Express, in which children take the train through the night to the North Pole.
July 14, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This month we’ve seen more LOVE on the Virginia Creeper Trail. These are pictures taken today at the trail.
The Virginia Creeper Trail has over the years become one of the main tourism draws in the Town of Abingdon. Recent studies have it rivaling the esteemed Barter Theatre, the State Theatre of Virginia, in terms of economic impact from tourism.
The LOVE signs, which we Abingdonians have seen some other places around town, are part of an effort to boost Virginia Tourism. The sign usually doesn’t stay for long in any given location, so I wanted to be sure to capture it before the sign is moved. Putting the artwork up in this location was a good idea.
April 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Whitetop Mountain contrasts with the almost-full foliage on the hillsides of Abingdon yesterday afternoon.
November 18, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Yesterday morning, November 17, we had the first snowfall in Abingdon. It started after I was already at work, so I didn’t get any pictures of it. It only snowed for a couple of hours; it was not a particularly heavy snow, and the ground was too warm for any of it to accumulate.
Unlike many folks, I always enjoy the first snowfall in town, as it means we’re in the season where we’ll see more of it in the mountains as winter approaches.
However, the snow yesterday wasn’t the first this fall in Southwest Virginia. In the eastern end of Washington County we had noticeable accumlation twice in October.
The first heavy dusting occurred on Saturday, October 1, 2011. When we were camping at Grindstone last month (see my previous article), the campground host told me that it snowed all Saturday that first weekend of October, and there was significant accumulation all over the north side of Mount Rogers.
By the time I took the photo above, the weekend storm cleared out, the sun warmed the day back into the upper 50s°, and most of the snow had melted off of the mountains. You can still see some remnants on the summit of Mount Rogers (on the left side of the photo). The scene earlier in the day was more dramatic; it is a strange contrast to see snow on the mountains behind the green, deciduous trees in the valley before they’ve changed into their fall colors.
September 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Tropical Storm Lee has been slowly moving towards Southwest Virginia. Its precursor precipitation bands arrived Sunday afternoon, and it rained most of Sunday night. The Doppler radar weather map Monday morning looked like it was painted green, with just a small area around Washington County not showing rain. It was a small decent-weather window in which to labor through one last long run on the Virginia Creeper Trail before the Blue Ridge Relay race later this week.
With the rainy weather, it is surprising that the color that is in forefront of my mind today is red. Running through the matte lighting on the misty trail this morning, I saw more red in the outdoors than anytime this summer:
- The falling and fallen leaves that are finally turning red (in addition to yellow), signaling the onset of autumn and the fantastic color changes we will be witnessing once again across the mountains very soon;
- The beautiful orange-red color pattern of an Eastern box turtle that was slowly crossing the trail. Its brilliantly-colored head was raised high as it scouted the area; and
- The long, lithesome body and outstretched tail of an auburn-colored red fox darting over the trail only 100 feet in front of me.
All of this was on a four-mile stretch of the trail from the Abingdon trailhead.
On this website, I usually don’t cover too much about the Virginia Creeper Trail, in part because it’s covered extensively on other sites, and on this site I seek to provide information about some of the less-known outdoor activities near Abingdon. That said, it is true that sometimes we take for granted that which is closest to us. The Virginia Creeper Trail is really something quite special; a solitary trip at an unusual time is sometimes the best way to reawaken awareness of how fortunate we are to have this awesome natural resource literally in our backyard.
August 14, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This photograph was taken on the morning of Sunday, June 26, 2011. I awoke early to get ready for the first of several paddling trips we have taken this summer on the New River. In each trip, we left Abingdon early in the morning and witnessed a great sunrise as a sort of prologue to the adventures ahead of us on the river.
On the first morning, as I prepared our fishing tackle and provisions in the kitchen I noticed the sky was a brilliant pink and purple in the East as the sun began to rise. I drove to Main Street and took some quick photographs of the scenic skyline of Abingdon. Note you can see right through the shutter-adorned window of the Washington County Courthouse cupola. In the foreground is the Sinking Springs Presbyterian Church steeple.
The photo below shows more of the skyline. The purple periphery framed the pink background of the rooftops. The dramatic sunrise was an auspicious start to our first trip to the New River this year.
August 8, 2011 § Leave a Comment
This weekend was a fly fishing marathon of sorts. My son and I covered three different streams in three days, shopped for fishing gear and talked fishing with numerous people about fly fishing, researched fishing opportunities around the region, and caught some nice fish while escaping the oppressive heat that seems to have taken the nation hostage this summer. On Sunday afternoon, I caught my first large rainbow trout since purchasing a new fly rod.
As you can see from the photo above, this fish was about as long as my forearm from elbow to the middle of my hand. We estimated him about 15 inches and about 2 pounds. I caught him with a nymph in about 1 1/2 feet of water near a cut bank. My rod was a 5 wt, and I was using 6X tippet. He jumped once and ran twice, the second time pulling line out from the reel. We enjoyed that sweet whine of the drag as the trout pulled the line as he straight-lined it up river. We had about a five minute fight to get him close enough to bring him in, and we promptly released him.
This is a great time of the year to get up into the mountains for recreation since it has been so hot lately. We enjoyed temperatures in the low to mid 70s most of the time we have been fishing this weekend. That said, the water is extremely low, so the fish may not be as responsive as at other times of the year. The heat puts a lot of additional stress on trout, who require the colder water to survive. We therefore have minimized the length of fights or playing the fish out too long, as in the heat it is difficult for them to recover.
The Southern Appalachians boast some of the best fly fishing in the Eastern United States. That declaration, while seeming strange on its face—fishing for trout, a cold water fish, in The South?—actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Streams and rivers originating from springs and filtered runoff from mountains, relatively remote pockets of forestland, and steep valleys providing lots of cover and protection from the heat of the sun combine to make the streams of this region good for trout. Within a 60-mile radius from Abingdon there are numerous “blue ribbon” trout streams in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee that provide first class fly fishing opportunities. Many are tight creeks and smaller streams, but there is definitely some wonderful fly fishing in this area.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is a good place to start to get some basic information on regulations and fishing locations in Southwest Virginia. Abingdon is fortunate to have an excellent and well-equipped fly fishing shop, Virginia Creeper Fly Shop, whose owner Bruce Wankel is always welcoming, provides useful information, and also guides local waters. Mountain Sports, Ltd. in Bristol also sells fly fishing specific gear and has knowledgable staff about fly fishing in the region.
Here is a map of the major trout streams in far Southwest Virginia(including the Abingdon area) and a map of the major trout streams in the area to the north and east in Southwest Virginia (including Wythe and Grayson counties).
All photos in this article taken by Karl Thiessen.