Explore, Experience and Enjoy the Beautiful Smith River in Southern Virginia

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Winter's Icy Grip

Spring is not here yet.

The past few days saw a return to colder temperatures, and the icy grip of winter has refused to yield to spring just yet.

A chilly reminder are the icicles clinging to the cliffs along Riverbrook Drive as it runs along the Smith River just below Philpott dam.

Article and photos by: Brian Williams
Edited and posted by: Vicky Thomas

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Did you get outside today?

Did you see those beautiful blue-bird skies?
I hope everyone was able to enjoy the weather today as much as we did.

Did you slow down for a minute, stop and breath in the crisp air as it blew a hint of warm air across the fields and hardwood ridges? Even if you just stepped out on your porch you couldn't help but turn your face to the sun and say "thanks"...Winter is still here but spring is definitely coming. It's a safe bet to say we have not seen the last of the cold gray skies but these warm sun-soaked days sure make you think we may have escaped winters icy grasp for another season.
With no particular plan in mind, Patty and I headed out this afternoon to find some woods and water. It didn't really matter where we ended up as long as those two criteria were met. That's one of the cool things about Henry County, no matter where you live you are not far from a hidden spot you may have never seen, or an old favorite that never fails to deliver.

The sparkling waters of this tributary cascade down stair-step bedrock ledges as the water falls off the ridge-line and heads for its rendezvous with the Smith.
Hike along the Smith just about anywhere and you are sure to encounter the ever present gray and white patchy bark of the sycamore as it stretches out over the water, shading the river and making a home for countless insects, birds and other wildlife. Its roots miraculously holding the the bank from spilling into the stream.
The further downstream you go heading southeast the more you see of the craggy old river birch with its curled and flaky, paper-like bark that seems as if you stand there and peel it all the way down to a sapling.
We headed upstream, flanked by tall rock outcrops, the river indifferent to our presence as it continued its run to the coast...

Up on the ridge, impressive "gray ghost" guard the horizon, the huge beech trees, their flat smooth trunks stark against the dried browns of the winter leaves, cling to the steep banks and cliffs as though they alone are holding the ridge together...and perhaps they are.

This old beech tree spreads its roots out over the crumbly, mossy rocks like an octopus spreading out tentacles; the trees full weight seems to crush the stones underneath.

The river catches the light from the afternoon sun and casts it up against the rocks and beyond the slope while the shadows grow long and we know it's time to head back.

I hope you got outside today...did you?

Article and photos by: Brian Williams
Edited and posted by: Vicky Thomas