Here at the very top of Virginia --Grayson Highlands and Mt Rodgers -- the fall colors are splendid. We are a little short of sunlight, but where the sun shines, the colors just glow.
Big views and loose laid stone walls define Grayson Highland State Park. Wide parkways after the tortuous 15MPH approach on Highway 58.
After settling into a nearly empty State Park, we hiked the short Twin Pinnacles trail to the highest points in the park. The Sun just peeked out as we watched the Wild Ponies graze far out on the mountainside and the soaring birds whisked so close we could see eyes. Other hikers pointed out hikes they had enjoyed and gave us tips and stories about the area.
Next morning it was misting, but we tackled the Wilson Creek trail. Roots and Rocks covered with bright yellow leaves made the descent to the creek treacherous –- we had to stop still in order to safely look about. The yellows gave way to dark green rhododendron thickets along the creek and trail wound up and down along nearly constant waterfalls.
Weather is chancy at this altitude, so Eagle Scouts have provided “Storm Shelters.”
Some are triangular so you don’t get too comfortable.
We climbed back out to the comfort of the Airstream and had a nice warm lunch.
Next, we search for Ponies….
The Highlands were once densely covered with Red Spruce. After the deforestation came the fires which burned to bedrock, a familiar story. Grazing was established in the places which supported grass. When the park removed the cattle, wild ponies were introduced to keep parts of the area open while allowing the natural plant succession to reestablish the forest. On our hike to Twin Pinnacles, the progress is apparent, but slow moving. On the slopes of Wilbur Ridge where we hiked this afternoon, temporary fencing guides the ponies away from the newly developing forest.