Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Summer Travels- The Cascades

The Cascades in Pembroke VA is one of our favorite hiking places. It's a little over an hours drive away, but we try to visit it at least once a year. My favorite time to come is in the early spring when all the first wildflowers are blooming.  The area is covered in trillium, wood violets columbine, anemones, jack in the pulpit, blue cohosh etc.  It is still a beautiful walk other times of year, but the spring is definitely my favorite.

This year we visited in the middle of summer, so most of the windflowers were not blooming. We've had so much rain this year, that the area was damper than usual and everything was lush and green.

The hike follows this beautiful river through a winding rocky path.  The hike can be a little strenuous, but the 70 foot waterfall at the end makes it all worthwhile. The cascades is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Virginia, and of all the waterfalls we have visited it is by far my favorite.  i enjoy the actual hike as much as i enjoy the falls.

Although there were very few wildflowers, we did get to see a few butterflies fluttering about.  This one is a called a Red spotted purple, even though it looks black and blue.  They are usually spotted sucking the minerals out of the soil near the edges of the creek.  

Last year was the first time i've ever come across a purple flowering raspberry Rubus Odoratus. i had spotted it on our way back from hiking at panther creek. It was actually covered in fruit, otherwise i would have dismissed it as a type of wild rose. 

Although we visit the Cascades every year, i had no idea these were all over this area. We typically come in the spring, so the raspberry isn't flowering. The leaves to this plant don't look like a typical raspberry, so i've never paid it any attention before.  i was pretty excited to find them here, they are such a pretty raspberry! They are also sometimes called thimble berry and Virginia raspberry. i'm hoping to come across these again in the wild (not a state park :) )so i can dig up a runner and get some established on our land. i just love them!

Although the hike is several miles and strenuous in places, the kids love to come here and have no problems hiking the entire distance.  The scenery is completely magical, and there is amazing energy everywhere. 

The waterfall at the end of the hike is breathtaking. Kenan always takes the kids out to the falls. You can follow the rocks across and walk right up to it. The rocks are really slippery though, and it's hard not to fall. So i prefer to stay. :)   i'm not sure how i managed to get this picture of them without anyone else in it. The day we were here there were a ton of people at the falls. There were people all over the rocks, walking up to the falls and several were even in the water swimming. We always let the kids wade in the shallow areas, but we've never swam here, although many people do. 

The falls always leave us feeling energized, and the walk back seems really easy. Last year we continued up the trail to see the other falls farther up, but this year we were there a bit later and decided to just head home. Just as we got back to our car the rain poured down and  it began to storm.  Seemed like the perfect ending to such an amazing hike.

We left feeling energized and recharged.  


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