Notice and Wonder
August 3, 2017
My Ridgerunning walk this week focused on what’s called the High Country of the Mt Rogers Recreation Area in Virginia. My first night out on Thursday, I camped at a spot I’ve had my eye on while I walked through there other weeks. It’s on Stone Mountain, just south of “The Scales”, an open, grassy field where cattle ranchers would weigh and sell their cattle before driving them down the mountain. The story goes that they realized that the cattle weighed more before they made the descent to town! Now, The Scales is a favorite car camping spot. I prefer to walk a mile south on the Appalachian Trail, up Stone Mountain, to camp. There, the grassy, and bushy bald stretches for a mile with expansive views. The low vegetation is broken by groups of short trees, bonsai-like stands of beech trees, just 5″ in diameter and fifteen feet tall. They create inviting rooms of shade, where the wild ponies can cool off. I walked away from the trail a couple hundred yards and set up my tarp under a sprawling oak tree in a patch of grass. In the morning, the view across The Scales and the valley below inspired me to take time to do a quick watercolor sketch of the distant Wilburn Ridge, where the trail would wind its way south.