Posts filed under ‘Cascades’

Frozen Cascades 2010

Ryan had to leave Blacksburg at noon today to return to Elizabeth City. But it’s Frozen Waterfall Season! I couldn’t in good conscience let him leave without seeing Pembroke’s 69 foot Cascades!

So this morning, we woke up at 6 AM. It was 10 degrees out when we started our journey to the trailhead. It may sound cold, but believe it or not, we were taking off layers as we hiked the two miles to the falls.

The waterfall was BEAUTIFUL. Incredibly, Ryan and I had it all to ourselves. This was a first for me. The Cascades are exceedingly popular and regardless of weather or season, I have always found other people there. This time, we just so happened to be early enough to beat all the other hikers. We saw many on our return trip to the car… but those precious moments standing on top of Little Stony Creek surrounded by exquisite deity-sized draperies of flowing ice were ours and ours alone.

Although that surprise solitude was precious, I certainly don’t mind sharing on this blog. 🙂 Here are some of my favorite shots of our trip.

Cascades 2010 - Falls Close
Frozen Cascades 2010

Cascades 2010 - Vicky with Falls  (By Ryan Somma)
Me with Falls

Cascades 2010 - Ryan with Falls (Portrait)
Ryan with Falls

Cascades 2010 - Gradient Rocks
Layers of Ice Around Rocks

Cascades 2010 - Ryan with Icicles (Portrait)
Ryan with Draping Icicles

Cascades 2010 - Vicky
Self Portrait at Falls

Cascades 2010 - Vicky and Ryan Under Falls (Portrait)
Me and Ryan (After we figured out the self timer and sacrificed a scarf to hold up the camera)

I had another “Cascades First” this trip. As we walked to the falls, I reflected back on all my previous trips over the last decade.

“You know,” I told Ryan, “I have never kissed anyone at the Cascades.”

“You’ll have to do that sometime,” Ryan said.

We voluntarily woke up before dawn on a Sunday to hike in the cold– today was not a day of procrastination. We made sure to knock that milestone right out. 🙂

Cascades 2010 - Vicky and Ryan Kiss Under Falls
First Kiss at Cascades

More pictures from our Frozen Cascades Hike can be found on my Flickr site.

Cascade Falls

Length: 4 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: ~500 feet

Driving and Parking: Large parking lot at trailhead with water fountain and full restrooms.

Directions from Blacksburg, VA

Take 460 West to Pembroke
Turn right on Cascade Dr (SR-T623)
Park entrance is in 3.3 miles.

January 10, 2010 at 11:57 pm 6 comments

Five Great Platonic Non-Date Dates

Earlier this week, GeekHiker posted about how one the biggest ironies of him being single is that he does “come up with some damn good ideas for dates.” It sparked some thought on my part here in Virginia and I polled a few of my male friends to hear about their great dates. And wowzer! The men I know can really crank out some great ideas.

It also opened my eyes a bit. I never really thought about “date ideas” being a task that fell on the shoulders of the male. Part of it is definitely, I’m female, and I get to just take all that stuff for granted. Suck it, Y Chromosomes!

But at the same time, it may be that I had little cause to think creativity was involved with planning dates. While I listened to elaborate tales involving rented boats, surprise flowers, expensive wines and batteries of candles, I realized– as far as dates go, I don’t have many that deviate from an age-old, tried and true formula. Throughout my dating career, my experiences are dinner-movie, dinner-movie, dinner-movie with the occasional dinner-movie-ice cream (w00t!).

But don’t shed tears, even if you think my dating life was deprived, because you know what? I have been lucky enough to share some PHENOMENAL days of my own with men. PHENOMENAL. Great days, adventurous days, inspiring days that I will remember forever and ever.

They just happened to be totally platonic.

I’m not ready to declare these to be my Top Five Platonic Non-Date Dates. But here are five I remember fondly that come to mind right now on this chilly Thursday night.

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #1 – Butt Mountain and Frozen Cascades
When:
January 2003
Who: Tony Airaghi

One weekend morning, Airaghi asked me if I wanted to go hiking. It was January, so this seemed odd, but I heard him through. We took both dogs, drove on a snowy road, checked out Butt Mountain Overlook and then hiked DOWN to the Cascades. Lo and behold, the falls were almost completely frozen. It was— amazing. The whole hike with all the snow, the trees and the curled up rhododendron was beautiful, but it was the waterfall that stole the show. And this hike taught me an important lesson– hiking in Virginia does not have to be confined to summer and fall.


Tony at the Frozen Cascades, January 18th, 2003

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #2- Roanoke Symphony
When:
Fall and Winter 2003
Who: Leith S

My friend Leith had season tickets to the Roanoke Symphony. Anytime he didn’t have a date, I got to accompany him! Although this isn’t as adventuresome as hiking, boy, I grew very fond of our outings. Each month, on a Monday night, I got to dress up and put on makeup and meet my companion for an evening of music. It was winter, so the days got dark fast. As I drove to Roanoke, I’d look at the crisp stars that frequent the winter skies, I’d listen to NPR and I’d feel introspective. And nothing compliments an introspective mood better than beautiful, classical music.

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #3 – Speedboating on Smith Mountain Lake
When:
May 1999
Who: Mike Miller, Ryan Schutt

Okay, this one has just a little bit of threesome action going on. Ryan Schutt, Jimmie and I drove up and met Mike Miller in Roanoke. Together we went to Smith Mountain Lake and rented a speed boat. It was the weekend before Memorial Day so it was still considered off season, meaning we got a cheap rate! And yet, it was the weekend before Memorial Day, meaning the weather was still great. We all had a splendid time driving the boat and checking out the scenery of the lake. Before that day, I didn’t even know one *could* rent a speedboat. But you can! And it is quite fun!


Ryan driving the speedboat at Smith Mountain Lake

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #4- Rollerblading the Huckleberry Trail
When:
Spring 2002
Who: Tony Airaghi

What would eventually become a yearly tradition, Tony and I met after work to rollerblade the entire Huckleberry Trail. Back then our 11 mile journey was unprecedented for me and quite a feat for my little legs. The route may be the same six years later, but it sure feels a heck of a lot easier nowadays!

I remember a lot of laughter, I remember visiting with Larry at his house half way, but most of all I’ll remember that final half mile. It was getting dark and a thunderstorm was approaching. In a distance, we could see the hazy lights of the mall where our cars were parked. I couldn’t really see Tony except when lightening streaked across the sky– then I could see his skating silhouette ahead of me and at one point a pole I was about to run into. We were able to barely beat the weather to the mall. Tony opened the back of his Explorer and we sat down. As soon as did, the rain hit! With the subtle nagging soreness of accomplishment in my legs, I removed my skates and just absorbed my favorite of nature’s many shows — a summer thunderstorm.

Great Platonic Non-Date Date #5- Tinker Cliffs AND McAfee’s Knob
When:
May 2005
Who: Mike E

One morning I woke up and signed onto AOL IM with the intent of asking Mike E on a hike. He beat me to it. As soon as I logged on I saw a message from him.

“Hike?”

I was so in. We met at the Easy Chair Coffee Shop to pick up breakfast and then we headed to Catawba with Jimmie and Henry. Our journey began at VA-779. We hiked two and a half hours to Tinker Cliffs. There we shared an orange (which would later become a tradition). We then hiked another three hours to McAfee’s Knob. At one point, I wanted to cry. But before I knew it, we were at the most photographed point on the Appalachian Trail looking at where we were earlier in the day. It was an energizing feeling.

Just 3.5 short miles later, we were reunited with a car at VA-311. At the end of the day, we had finished 13.1 miles of hiking. We promptly drove to Fuddruckers and treated our bodies to a lot of greasy, fatty food. We may have even had ice cream (w00t!). It was a very fulfilling day and when I think of a great hike– this one is one that will always come to mind.


Me pointing to the day’s trek

And so there are five non-date dates that I remember. Most of them weren’t even planned! Just a quick call in the morning was all that was needed to spark an adventure. Some were on weeknights, some were on weekends. And they spanned all four seasons. With speed boating, a good amount of capital was required. But on the other extreme, seeing the Frozen Cascades didn’t even cost a dime.

It seems to me… that regardless of budget, day of the week, or time of year, a great experience can be had.

All you need is a good friend.

August 28, 2008 at 10:42 pm 3 comments

Barney’s Wall

After talking about it for a few months, today Mike E and I managed to finally get over to Barney’s Wall. We were accompanied by Sean and the dogs. Barney’s Wall is a big steep rock face. One hiker describes it as one of the “the region’s best-kept-secret stunning views.”

Although you can get to Barney’s Wall from the Cascades, it was my first choice to not go that route. The Cascades is always crowded (even in winter there are plenty of visitors). On a beautiful day like today, the Cascades Trail was about as appealing to me as a Saturday visit to Walmart.

Luckily, there is another route. You can get on the Nature Conservancy Trail from the dirt road that takes you to Butt Mountain Overlook (otherwise known as VA-714). The only problem– we didn’t quite know where the trailhead was. Information on the internet was frustratingly hard to come by and the only map we stumbled upon failed to inspire confidence– it incorrectly labeled VA-714 as VA-71! I had hiked a section of the Nature Conservacy Trail in 2003, but to get on it I, uh, sort of cut across private property. That wasn’t going to fly today. So many times, I’ve passed by trailheads that were obscured by neglect and vegetation. So when we all loaded into the XTerra in Blacksburg, I wasn’t entirely convinced we would find the trail.

Turned out to not be a problem. The trail is beaten enough to be easily visible from the road and a “Nature Conservancy Trail” sign eliminates any ambiguity. There are small pull-offs nearby for vehicles and oh, there is an orange rock (some local campers gave us that particular landmark).


This is obviously a trail– beaten path AND a sign.


Orange rock near the trail

Driving on VA-714 is no picnic and you definitely should take a 4WD vehicle. But the hike itself is quite simple– a quick (~15-20 minutes), gentle decline to the view.


Jimmie at Barney’s Wall

The view took a backseat to something more interesting, though. There were some rappellers out taking advantage of the sheer drop. It looked scary and at the same time, extremely intriquing. Now I want to learn!


Getting ready


Rappelling!

As usual, more pictures of our Barney’s Wall hike can be found on my Flickr site. If you are interested in taking the VA-714 route, Mike found some detailed directions (including coordinates) a good four hours after we got home.

September 3, 2007 at 11:07 pm 3 comments

Cascades: Another Week Apart

A co-worker of mine, James, went to the Cascades last Saturday and found them roaring from the rain and melted ice.  Here’s a recap of my shot from the previous Saturday and then his.


Vicky’s shot on 2/24/2007


Jame’s shot from 3/3/2007

More Pictures
2/17/2007 and 2/24/2007 Cascades Comparison
James’ Cascades Pictures on Picasa

March 5, 2007 at 11:43 pm 1 comment

Cascades: One Week Apart

I have shared photos of different hiking sites during different seasons. I’ve shared photos of my work area four years apart and even a bathroom exit four years apart. Now, I present you with a more modest time frame (though not as modest as toddlers two seconds apart).

Last week, while I was hanging out with Clint, Carolyn and Ryan Somma, Mike E discovered the Cascades were completely frozen!


Mike’s picture from 2/17/2007

Today, the dogs and I headed back. After a week of weather in the forties and fifties, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The falls had melted, but there was still a lot of ice to look at!


Vicky’s picture from 2/24/2007

More Pictures
2/17/2007 Cascades Pictures on Mike’s Flickr account
2/24/2007 Cascades Pictures on my Flickr account

P.S. All my photos were taken with my cell phone camera. My digital camera broke. It appears I’m on the market for TWO digital cameras now.

February 25, 2007 at 12:50 am 3 comments

Something the Thru-Hikers Miss

Each year over a thousand hikers embark on hiking the whole Appalachian Trail. I think there is roughly a 20-25% completion rate. These hikers, even the ones who don’t manage to finish, gather up memories of the trail that I, as a mere day-hiker, can only imagine. I certainly enjoy my showers and hot meals, but I do envy the unique experiences those hikers must have. Parting with all the daily obligations of their lives, all the views they see as they travel through fourteen states, the comradery they have with other hikers and finally, the fulfillment they must feel 2000 miles later when they have completed their challenge.

Yesterday, Bill and I made a trip down to the Butt Mountain Overlook. It was a quick trip– We headed that way, admired the view, took some pictures, watch Jimmie take three dumps and two hours later we were back home. Last night when I was looking at one of my pictures of the view, I recalled I had a similiar shot from a July trip with Mike E. It was neat to flip back and forth and look at the difference.

Then I was reminded… The thru-hikers who pass through this area each year certainly have a wealth of experiences that I do not have, but there is one thing I have one thing that they don’t. I get to see this area year-round. I get to see the same spots through different seasons and different weather conditions. I get to see the blooming rhododendrons in June and I get to see them all curled up in the winter, adding a green contrast to the white snow. I know that Angel’s Rest is best in the fall, the Cascades are the prettiest in the winter* and Wind Rocks is so very haunting in the fog. In the early spring and winter I get to see extra views before the leaves are on the trees that you would never notice in the warmer months (for example you can see only Mountain Lake from Bald Knob when there are no leaves) when the thru hikers are passing through. And then when the leaves are there in the summer, I get to marvel at the beauty of all the green along with all the other hikers.

I’d say the score is still about 1279 to 2 (I’m also counting “Sitting in Larry’s Hot Tub Afterwards” as a point for me). But for what it is worth, here are some samples from my hiking photos of similiar shots in different seasons (Note: Not all are Appalachian Trail hikes). Enjoy!

Butt Mountain

Winter


Summer

Bald Knob

Spring – You can see Mountain Lake in the upper right


Summer – No Lake Visible

Falls Ridge

Winter


Late Fall

McAfee’s Knob

Spring


Summer

Cascades

Strong Winter


Mild Winter


Spring

Carvin’s Cove

Spring


Summer

Pearis Mountain (Past Angel’s Rest)

Spring (this was my 30th birthday hike!)


Summer

*The Thru-Hikers would certainly struggle to know Cascades is prettiest in winter seeing as how it isn’t on the AT.

January 29, 2007 at 1:26 am 13 comments


Flickr Photos

3D Printed Products

Tweets