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 23, 2010

Two Trails

During our stay in Shenandoah we went hiking several times. I asked one of the rangers if she could recommend some trails near our campsite. On her endorsement we hiked the Jones Run Trail with the promise of 43' falls. As we entered the trial it was obvious to me it had been a while since rain had fallen. We descended fairly steeply the dry mountain until we came to Jones Run itself, which was a little better than a trickle. By the time we reached the site of the falls more water was flowing, but not enough to use the word spectacular. However, it was still lovely - the water, the stone and the forest.

Red Maple

Dogwood Skies

Fernstone (4)


Jones Run Reflection

Jones Run Slowed

The next day we hiked the Mill Prong Trail which seemed to have received more rain over the summer than Jones Run. The foliage looked less droughty and the stream was very lively. We ended up at Camp Rapidan, which was the presidential retreat of Herbert Hoover and his wife Lou Henry. I thought I knew my Virginia history, but I had never heard about this place until fellow blogger Art at Oh To Be Hiking wrote about it last July. The Hoovers built their Brown House (as opposed to the White House) along side the Rapidan River to take advantage of the trout fishing. We were able to take a tour of the Brown House led by a knowledgeable and enthusiastic volunteer, but it became quickly apparent that he was definitely old-school. He was explaining to the all-male tour group that the pots of forest clippings were in the cabin because Mrs. Hoover did not garden at Camp Rapidan and used what she found growing wild, "but of course none of you would be interested in that". I nearly lost it though, when he told us that Mrs. Hoover paid full asking price for the acreage and didn't try to "jew down" anybody. I can't believe people still use this offensive term. After that I was ready to leave before anything else fell out of his mouth. Back outside and with lunch at Big Rock Falls, I was quickly over our non-PC tour.

Hoover's Brown House

Camp Rapidan Fireplace

The Brown House Deck

Maples (2)

Along Mill Prong Trail (4)

Maples (3)

Mill Prong (2)

Big Rock Falls


  1. A great series of photographs to go with your narrative on your Shenandoah trip. Your pictures get better all the time... I especially like the flowing water...

  2. Beautiful autumn sounds and looks like an incredible place. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My mother (in Mississippi) used to use that term too, and I believe she did it in all innocence. It was just a word for her, and she never thought through its implications. I grew up in a small southern town with many Jews and they seemed to be to be viewed as bulwarks of the community. I never even experienced the concept of antisemitism until I went to college. Of course, we had some powerful prejudices, conscious and unconscious, toward our darker brethren in town. I guess this is a lesson in how unconscious our prejudices can can be.

  4. Wow! You take us right along with you on this breathtaking walk Les. Gorgeous photography! Great being able to accompany an artist and avid hiker. I would have had to hold my tongue around such a thoughtless guide too. I love your tour though!

  5. People say stuff and if no one objects, they think it is ok. Our youngest pushed us to be more pro-active about saying something. I know one needs to access the situation before jumping in.
    Now--your pictures are spectacular. I can't even imagine the splendor of the park. I didn't know the Hoovers had a home there either. I especially like your water shots, the one that has the rocks with the stream tumbling over them is beautiful.

  6. As with Jim I know some older folk who use terms like that without thought, an unfortunate vestige of less considerate times. The hard part is that I know them to be generous, loving people.
    Your images of shadows on stone really stand out among all the color--wonderful eye you have.

  7. If it wasn't for your trips I'd never go anywhere. Thank you!

  8. Beautiful images ! Thanks for inviting us along ...

  9. John,
    Thanks! I have been experimenting with shutter speed and this was my first success at making the water do that.

    Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

    I know what you mean about people using that term in all innocence, and I am sure the tour guide did not mean anything by it. My wife's family is Jewish and by birth so would my son be, and I had to explain this term to him. BTW, I think the story of Jews in the South is facinating and one of the great untold chapters of our history.

    I did hold my tongue, though I thought about saying something to him, but I was raised right and did not want to embarass him, and knew he really meant no harm.

    Yeah to the young ones for pushing us forward. I found the history of Camp Rapidan and the Hoovers very interesting. When I think of Hoover I think of the Depression, but he was more than that - and so was she. If there had not been such anymosity between FDR and Hoover, this place might have become Camp David only with a different name, I am glad it didn't.

    There were things said in my own family much more harmful than "Jew down", but like you I know they were said by generally kind and loving people. Things are different now, and it is good to see that people progress.

    I think I have restless leg syndrome.

    You are welcome. Stay tuned as I will likely be off somewhere else soon enough.