On the evening September 14, 2015, I fished alone. The silence was broken only by the sound of the running water. Looking upstream, the water reflected the sunlight shining off the mountainside, above the small gorge through which the creek runs.
I was able to recite the most famous fly fishing passage:
In the . . . half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the . . . river and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. . . .
Sunday, April 26, 2015, it was unseasonably cold and overcast–it almost felt like a fall day. We had bad thunderstorms to the north, but the rainfall was scattered across Southwest Virginia. So late that afternoon my son and I decided to go head up to Damascus and see how the creeks were running. We fly fished Whitetop Laurel Creek, and while the water was on the higher end of optimal conditions, the fish were hungry. We caught a number of brown trout in the special regulation section of the creek using large Parachute Madam X flies. We figured because the water wasn’t crystal clear, we’d give the trout something that would catch their attention with the heavier than normal flows.
This weekend we went for a walk down the VCT near Alvarado. The melted snow run off from the mountains colored the South Fork of the Holston, making the deeper pools bluish green. The water was just a bit high. The section of river from Damascus to Alvarado was likely about the right level for kayaking.
Because of its prominence, Clinch Mountain affords some of the best views over the Holston River and Clinch River watersheds. The best views are available during the winter when there is no foliage. On clear winter days you can see almost 100 miles south. On Saturday, February 22, 2014, I drove to the Hidden Valley Management Area and hiked the southeastern section of Clinch Mountain on access roads and trails in that area.
Clinch Mountain overlooks the small community of Hansonville and Moccasin Creek. Clinch Mountain divides two significant river basins: the three forks of the Holston River drain the valleys to the east and south of the mountain (which is to the left of the ridge in the photos), and the Clinch River to the west and north of the mountain (which is to the right in the photos).
In the photo above, the view shows the spine of Clinch Mountain to the southwest, and further to the south the valley through which I-81 travels, with the Iron Mountains (and Holston Mountain) bordering the other side of the valley, with the much higher Unaka Mountains (including Roan Mountain) on the horizon.
The western side of Clinch Mountain hase similarly long range vistas, with some cliff outcroppings. On this hike, however, I stayed on the southeastern side of the mountain.
In the photo above, Clinch Mountain is on the left, and the much smaller hill on the right is Big Moccasin Ridge. Together they frame in the Big Moccasin Creek and the valley.
This has been a cold winter in Abingdon Outdoors country, yet thus far we have not had the big snowfall that neighbors to the north have had. That was remedied on Wednesday, February 12, 2014, when we finally got hit with a blizzard.
Come Thursday, school was closed, court was closed, public offices were closed, and most businesses were closed.
My wife and I walked through Abingdon around noon, and usually busy downtown was largely abandoned, allowing for unobstructed photos of the snow-laden historical buildings around town.
Walking west on Main Street:
View of the Abingdon United Methodist Church. The exterior of the church was renovated in 2013. Note the freshly painted white parapets on the bell tower.
Continuing west, we climbed snow-covered stairs to the “Barter Green,” the area across Main Street from the Barter Theatre.
We continued towards the Barter Theatre and the Martha Washington Inn.
The LOVE sign in front of the Martha Washington Inn, appropriate for Valentine’s Day, February 14:
Walking through the snow past a former employer:
The Martha Washington hotel driveway was empty (except for the shuttle that is used to drive cyclists to the Virginia Creeper Trail):
Walking through town, we had the winter wonderland to ourselves:
Turning back east, we headed towards “courthouse hill,” where the county courthouse is located.
This weekend I snuck in a few hours of afternoon fly fishing at Beaverdam Creek. This creek flows out of Shady Valley, Tennessee and through a wildlife management area within the Cherokee National Forest and into Virginia. The Virginia portion runs for just a few miles until it enters Damascus, where it crosses right through the main town park.
After catching a couple of rainbow trout, I exchanged my rod for a camera. Wearing waders, I was able to capture some interesting colors from the middle of the creek. Note the orange and yellow reflections in ripples in the center of the creek. The 2012 fall colors have been the best and brightest in years in Southwest Virginia.
Hiking today with my daughter and faithful hound up on Forest Road 90 and the Iron Mountain Trail amidst the still lush, dark green foliage I saw a few leaves (just a very few, mind you), that seemed to be anxious for the next season.
Most traveling for summer vacations is finished or nearing completion; we are well into the 2012 Summer Olympics; young people and teachers are gearing up for a new school year; and here in Abingdon the Virginia Highlands Festival is in full swing. I can sense a collective sense of just a bit of anticipation all around as we know the summer is slowly drawing to an end. There’s still time to get outdoors and enjoy this season, though, which I encourage you to do.