An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

October 18, 2010

Into The Folded Land

The place where I live is flat - flat like the kitchen floor. There are very few elevation changes and these are often imperceptible, except during storm tides when mere inches make a great difference. Though I do love living on the coast and am willing to endure the occasional nor'easter or hurricane, I try to get to the mountains whenever I have the opportunity. I remember a post that Joycelyn of The Art Garden published earlier this year about a trip to Telluride, Colorado, and I commented that I would have a hard time getting anything done if I lived there, as I would be staring at the mountains all day. She had to remind me that some people have the same issue when they are near the ocean.

Patterson Ridge

To indulge this love of the mountains and to facilitate a change in perspective, as well as to get a little closer to the wilderness, my son and I headed west for a long weekend in Shenandoah National Park. Although I have been to the park many times, this was the first time I camped there.

Two Oaks

I had hoped my timing was right to see the foliage at its peak, but I think we were about a week too early. I am not complaining though, as there was still lots of color, and I enjoy this place no matter the time of year.

Third Day

Maple  (2)

Thistle and Sumac

I will spare you the history lesson (this time), but what is now a treasure for all of us was once home to thousands of families who were forced to sell their land so the park could be created. There are scant few physical reminders of this before time, and nature has done a remarkable job of returning farms to forest. However, I find it wonderful that after 75 years these people's apple trees still abound throughout the park.

Barn Latch


Yellow Apples

Red Apples

Little Green Apples (2)

We spent a lot of time hiking while we were at Shenandoah, and I will share a couple of these in the next post.


  1. Great photos Les, keep up the good work.

  2. The story of people losing/selling/leaving their homesteads to make the parks is one often forgotten.
    We went to a bluegrass festival this weekend---one of the roads we went past was named CCC Camp Rd. Interesting....

  3. Wow - those are beautiful images for not at peak! Here in Connecticut, our land is folded by long-gone glaciers, and that is a nice quality...

  4. Les,
    These are some of the best photos I've seen you post. Landscape photography seems to be your thing. Love visiting the Shenandoah mtns.

  5. Les, Those landscapes, whether abandoned for economic reasons, cultural changes, or forced moves carry a special poignancy. Apple trees bearing fruit after the passage of 75 years are a powerful sign, one I know you feel deeply (I believe Cold Mountain is on the list of your favorite books).

  6. Nice trip, I love your second picture the best, thanks, Gina

  7. Beloved Central Park was also created by displacing families.

    Lovely photos as always.

  8. Great pics Les, my hubby said he wants to take me up to see the fall color in the Blueridge Pkwy this year.

  9. I didn't know that history, but am familiar with the feeling of finding old posts and apple trees in the forest, wondering how it was before. Glad you got a mountain recharge and shared the views with us. p.s. have you read "A Walk in the Woods"?

  10. Hi Les, thanks for the shout out! I do crave the ocean, the rugged coast of northern California and Oregon, especially. But I would also love to experience the beautiful hardwood forests that you've photographed here and on the previous post. Am looking forward to the next installment!

  11. Well, It sure looks close to peaking to me . . . you might have been there at just the right time. Gorgeous landscape photos! I love the shots of worn buildings and those apples look delicious. I guess you had plenty to snack on. How sad for those that had to leave such a paradise. I have always wanted to visit there... nearly did this summer, when down that way but it was toooooo HOT! Now is the perfect time. Lovely to share all this with your son. ;>)

  12. Les, I think you found beautiful fall skies and color! Your photos are enchanting. I've never been to these mountains, but they are beautiful~Thank you for sharing them with us. gail

  13. your blog is always a peaceful. soothing place to visit. i'm glad you do it. and don't worry about adding the history lessons - i know i'm not the only one who enjoys those.

  14. Beautiful fall images, Les. Growing up in S.C., our family often drove up to Asheville and the Blue Ridge to see glorious fall color. Your post brings back memories.

  15. What gorgeous shots...looks so lovely! I particularly love the shot of the seed heads against the Sumac...awesome! I've been meaning to visit my sister, who lives in that region, for the last few years, seeing this, I think I'll plan for an Autumn visit :-)

  16. Beautiful photos Les. We are not getting much autumn color here so seeing yours in most appreciated.

  17. I love tagging along on your travels. Please don't stop the history lessons!

  18. Rene,
    Thanks for the encouragement.

    The recent PBS series did make note that Shenandoah and Smoky Mountain were not so much carved out of wilderness, but returned to it by purchasing from land owners.

    No glacier activity here, but as a result of northern glaciers receding our land is sinking, like a down going seesaw.

    Thank you very much, sincerely.

    You are right on both counts. I just finished reading Frazier's Thirteen Moons which was also good, not Cold Mt., good nonetheless.

    Thanks, I like that one as well.

    It makes you wonder whose side we would take when these things happen today. I'd like to think I would side with the individual, but seeing what has been created, maybe not.

    You better go this weekend as things are changing fast.

    On your recommendation I just put a hold on the book at the local library. It will be book III in my mountain-lit trilogy.

    I would love to see mountains and ocean together. We came close in Maine.

    We sampled all the apples we came across. Most were edible, a few we spit out quickly and a few we picked for later.

    You should go, I know you are not real close, but more so than many other readers.

    Thank you so much. I do have one history themed hike coming up soon.

    We did likewise. Growing up in Richmond we were only an hour or two away versus 3 here on the coast.

    I would agree with a fall visit, or perhaps an early to mid spring, but the swimming is best in summer and winter is not without its charms.

    I am glad I could help your foliage fix.

    OK, I will keep at it. Thanks for the kind comment.


  19. Fabulous and fantastic, Les! I didn't know about the settlers having to move, though we have traveled there many times. It is a most beautiful place, I don't blame you for visiting often. I love seeing the broomcorn hanging to dry! :-)

  20. I adore your kitchen floor simile! What I love most about Maine is we have mountains and ocean. Your gorgeous pictures here and in the post below make me want to visit Shenandoah too. I’m looking forward to seeing more. We didn't have time to go away to hike this fall so I'm happy to join you on the trail online.

  21. Dear Les, What a perfect trip, doubly so because you shared it with your son. Your photographs are stunning. Pam

  22. Les, when I get the chance to stop by, I always know you'll have some interesting information for me. Thank you so much. Beautiful photos, but I was especially touched by the cabin and the apple trees. We have a similar situation here where the government years ago wanted to build an hydro electric dam, and families also sold their land and had to move. An entire town. However, now people enjoy the power and the lake formed by damming the river. All of our lakes are man-made in Oklahoma. Odd isn't it? I love the ocean BTW.~~Dee

  23. You've outdone yourself this time, Les. Your photos are beautiful!! They are much clearer and more carefully composed than the ones I took last week from a moving vehicle. :)

  24. If next week is peak, how could it be bearable? I grew up on that flat land and live now on that rolling land you say you hail from. If we were to take back wilderness/picturesque land now, it would be called land reform because only millionaires can afford it now. Poor folks lose for the gain of the masses but it never works the other way.

  25. 'Folded Land' is so apt. Love all the photos. Hope it was a great trip.

  26. So beautiful! What a treat. We are just going a bit dull here, no color. I used to crave mountains but have gradually become used to the lowcountry.

  27. Frances,
    Yes Shenandoah and Smoky Mt. N.P. were both the only national parks that had people living in them prior to their creation who had to be bought out and relocated. Of course native Americans have called these places home for millennia. Thanks for letting me know it was broom corn and not millet.

    If I had mountains next to the ocean - and in a warm climate, that would be ideal.

    Thank you for your comment. My son and I both had a good time, and he will be 13 on Monday so I need to cherish anytime he willingly spends with his old man.

    Virginia has only two natural lakes of any size, the rest are dammed as well. The city's drinking water comes from a series of dams west of here where tidal rivers were blocked and allowed to fill with fresh water.

    Regardless, I still enjoyed your post.

    I am not sure that another park like this could be built today. I would like to think we are now more concious of individual rights, even if those rights belong to poor rural families.

    It was a great trip. Thanks for stopping by.

    I am still use to the Low Country. Though when I lived there I often use to run up 26 until I got to the mountains in NC.


  28. I always love your photography. I linked to you again today. :)

  29. Marsanne,
    Thank you for the kind comments and for the link.