On Sunday, my friend Barb and I headed out towards Haymarket for a hike. The forecast was rain in the afternoon but the weather was warm and cloudy so it was perfect hiking conditions. Arde, Barb's woofer, came along for the walk too, this being his longest hike to date. The course was supposed to be about 6.5 miles reaching an elevation of about 800ft so it wasn't going to be too arduous.
We came across an old ice storage pit which was basically a large deep hole in the ground lined with rocks. A little further along the path we came across this wonderful ruin of Chapman Mill built in 1742 which ground cornmeal and flour for American troops through seven wars, from
French and Indian through to both World Wars. During the Civil War, the confederates used it to store more than two million pounds of meat. By 1876, the Beverley family had restored the mill to its intended purpose and it operated until 1951. It was gutted by fire in 1998 but a nonprofit organization has purchased the property with intentions to preserve the structure.
Just a few yards further up the trail, we found this tree and had many laughs as we climbed in and out for photos, fervently hoping we wouldn't get stuck inside. Arde declined to participate.
This fallen down homestead was just up from the mill but we couldn't find any information about it. The rusty bedsprings and an old retro fridge could be seen under the collapsed rafters.
The summit was well worth the trek. This vista is actually on private land but other hikers and reports on line informed us that everybody went past the park boundaries to take advantage of the views.
I loved the lichen growing on this quartz and granite boulder.
We sat for 40 minutes eating our lunch and enjoying the beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains while swallow tail butterflies fluttered round our heads and turkey vultures lazily swept circles in the sky.
We headed back downhill and Arde enjoyed the creeks which was just as well as we had to cross quite a few.
These fabulous plants were growing in the wet areas near the creeks. Their leaves were so vibrant against the brown leaves that because nothing else was growing nearby and they were so large and fleshy, they reminded me of John Wyndham's triffids.
Along one of the creeks we found some strange artifacts. Somebody had hung this rusted wheel which looked like an old farming tool, and we found the strange skull under a tree. Defintely not a deer, but I had no idea what wild animal would have this long head.
These stone benches were near an old quarry area but we were a little tired of creek hopping to take advantage of them so looked at them from the other side.
I had never seen a tree such as this before, and we thought it looked like it belonged in a fairy tale. It was forming a natural waterfall, with its roots like fingers coming out of the bank. The branches had been carved with initials but sprouting buds proved that it was still alive.
Our last stop was at the Dawson graveyard, a small area with two stones and a simple stone wall surrounding them.. The foundations of the Dawson homestead were nearby.
We got back to the car after nearly six hours. We'd lost our direction a couple of times and gone in a circle repeating our steps once so we'd probably covered about 8 or 9 miles in all. This was a great hike with plenty to stop and look at and we were fortunate only to feel a few drops of rain.
Barb and I headed to our homes to clean up and enjoy a glass of wine. Arde got home and slept.