Mountain Lake No More
On Sunday, I took Science Blogger Ryan Somma from ideonexus.com up to Mountain Lake. The Commonwealth of Virginia only has two natural fresh water lakes and Mountain Lake is one of them. If that isn’t notable enough for you, then I guess I should promote the lake’s other bragging rights. Ahem. Part of Dirty Dancing was filmed there.
On the way up, I pointed out the route for the annual Mountains of Misery Race and I explained how in recent years the lake’s been draining.
We arrived to the top of Salt Pond Mountain and discovered that I used incorrect tense. Draining was wrong. Drained is more like it. The water is pretty much all gone. It’s part of the cycle of the lake.
The Mountain Lake Resort has been dealt a tough hand. The water is gone. Lake-side cottages look oddly out of place. Stranded boats and docks look reminiscent of ghost towns.
Ryan with what is left of the lake
But kudos to the resort for turning lemons into lemonade. They let you explore the dry lake bed. A nice gravel path with a bench and a portapotty lead the way. You get to see the fascinating crack patterns in the dried mud. You get to witness the perseverance of nature as vegetation takes over where the water once was. And you get to be on the lookout for forgotten goodies like old Budweiser cans fossils!
When you go to the Mountain Lake Resort website now, there is a caption in red at the top of the page that reads, “The mountain is more than just a lake…….”
That was certainly true on Sunday. We mucked around in the mud until dark. It was by far the longest amount of time that I have spent at the actual lake area of Mountain Lake.
A stronger testament comes from my own picture collection. Between Bald Knob, War Spur, the Appalachian Trail and Wind Rocks, I head up to the top of Salt Pond Mountain pretty regularly for hikes. Then add special events like Oktoberfest in the mix and I’ve been up there a quite a bit. So…over the years, exactly how many pictures have I taken of the lake?
There are two pictures from Bald Knob where the lake happens to make a cameo appearance in the background, but that’s it.
The lake itself was indeed gorgeous and quite a sight. But whenever I headed to the top of Salt Pond Mountain, there was always something else that interested me more than the water.
|Mountain Lake – Hiking the Lake Bed
115 Hotel Circle
Pembroke, VA 24136
Length: ~1.5 miles round trip (estimated using Google Maps)
Elevation Gain: It’s pretty flat– but if you tackle the mud and the rocks, you can make the terrain tricky.
Parking: $2 at the hotel
Directions from Blacksburg, VA