Monday, June 4, 2012
12 year anniversary and Hiking at Mountain Lake Conservancy.
On June 3rd, 2000, Kenan and i exchanged vows in a simple ceremony on our land. It was small, and perfect (despite a bit of rain) and we celebrated our union with a few friends and family that made the treck down to Virginia to be with us on our special day.
12 years, and two children later we are still going strong :) To celebrate our twelve years together i wanted to do something really special that the entire family would enjoy. We wanted something inexpensive, and reasonably close to home. While looking up local hiking trails we came across info about Mountain Lake Conservancy.
Mountain Lake is the hotel/resort where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. In the movie it was a fictional mountain retreat in the Catskill Mountains called "Kellerman's Resort". Up until a few years ago (i think), the hotel and grounds were private and available only to registered guests. i'm not sure when the Conservancy began managing the grounds, but it now open to the public for hiking, geocaching, snow showing etc. There is a $5 parking fee/donation and maps available in a kiosk by the trail access parking lot.
We began our hike on the Lower Jungle Trail, and crossed over to the Indian Trail which is a 1.7 mile loop around the lake. This trail offers scenic views of the lake and hotel, and is surrounded by ancient hemlocks, oaks and yellow birch. There were mountain laurel, rhodendrens and flame azaleas everywhere. There was also some really interesting tree fungus, ferns and Jack-in-the pulpit. It felt as if we had stepped into the fairy realm, the kids were spotting fairy houses and Ents everywhere.
At one time Mountain Lake was around 50 acres in surface area. In just the last few years the lake has begun to dry up. It really is nothing more than a small pond now, but the kids had fun exploring what at one time had been the lake bottom.
The lake used to come all the way up to this gazebo.
Indian Trail brought us up to the hotel grounds, where we were able to get lots of fun pictures. The hotel grounds are really very beautiful. We explored the area a bit, visited the gift shop and then switched over to Bald Knob road.
The Bald Knob trails leads to a beautiful (and slightly scary) overlook of the New River Valley.
There are some pretty serious drop off up here, so if you are hiking with children hold on to them tightly! i won't lie, the overlooks were breathtaking...but just about gave me a panic attack because of the heights.
There are a ton of unstable looking rock ledges like this, and many deep crevices we had to jump over to get to the overlooks. It was amazing, beautiful, and scary all at the same time. My kids absolutely loved every minute of it!!
Jack-in the Pulpits were everywhere along the trail. Most of them were green and white with very little color. This is one of the few purple ones we spotted.
These crazy looking fungus were growing everywhere up the sides of the hemlock trees. i believe they may be Reishi mushrooms, but i'm definitely not positive. They were very large and shiny, but not wet or slimy like they look.
After exploring Bald Knob (elevation 4365') we headed down the Bald Knob Trail and connected back to the Lower Jungle Trail. We followed this for a very scenic and beautiful hike back to our car. Mountain Lake provided a wonderful hiking experience, and we are all eager to go back. There are 18 different trails with varying degrees of difficulty.
After leaving Mountain Lake, we headed on to Blacksburg for lunch. We decided on Souvlaki's as i had a serious craving for greek food. i wasn't sure the kids would eat it, so we got a variety of different things for everyone to try. We got the falafel, Spanakopita, Pita with hummus, Grilled Pita with cheese, and baklava. OMGoodness, it was so good!! My boy loved the Spanakopita(spinach pie), my girl devoured the grilled pita with cheese and hubby and i split the Falafal and pitas with hummus. We all LOVED the baklava. i'm wishing now i had brought some home. :)
From there we headed across campus to check out the Hahn Horticultural gardens. They were Absolutely fabulous, but i'm going to save them for another blog post.:)
i could not have asked for a better anniversary. It truly was an amazing day. i can't think of a better way to spend it then hiking in the mountains and wandering through a flower garden with my children and husband.