Friday, March 30, 2012

Hiking the Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail

Last week Pierce had an extra day off school (an unused snow day) so we went to the Booker T. Washington Monument.  We decided while there to hike the Jack-O-Lantern Branch Heritage Trail, as it was a gorgeous spring day and we had nothing pressing to do.  I love these zigzag fences that you see across southwestern Virginia.  It's a Blue Ridge mountain trademark:


And the boys were off!

First we stumbled upon an old tobacco barn.


Complete with a wooden wagon inside.


Pierce intuitively said that it smelled like smoke inside.


And finally the official start to the trail.
The first part of it meandered beside a beautiful creek, and the creek is called the Jack-O-Lantern branch, which is how the trail got it's name.


We couldn't have asked for a more lovely day.


Taking a little break and listening to the stream.
The trail loop was a total of 2 miles long, and had markers throughout that you could follow along with a brochure.  The markers told us information about Booker T. Washington and his family, about foraging for food in the woods, about local trees, bees, and more interesting Virginia tidbits.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.


However, these two seemed to lose their sense of adventure.
Yes, there was trouble in paradise.  X2.
 So I took turns carrying them on my shoulders for a bit.
Finally we found the old Sparks cemetary.
 The simple fieldstones used to mark the graves don't tell much. I could read a letter or two on them.
 The brochure said that slaves frequently used forested ridges like this one for cemetaries.  But the origin of the "Sparks" name has been lost in oral tradition.


And if this slithery guy knows the secret, he wasn't telling.  In fact, he was so quiet I practically stepped right on him.  Lucky for me, he was a friendly sort of guy.  He hung out while I examined the stones and warned the boys not to mess with him.


And finally, we descended to a field, and down a big hill, and we'd made our big loop.
Juice boxes all around!

I think we'll go hiking here again.  It's a beautiful spot and we didn't see another soul.  

34 comments:

Clint Baker said...

It looks like you all are having a great time and making lots of good memories!

Jill said...

You do have the greatest places to explore...sans the snake!

My Journey With Candida said...

Hate snakes!!! They usually scare the jeepers out of me and I do a little dance.

Looks like you had a fun day out with the boys. I enjoy finding and exploring old cemeteries.... just keep the snakes away from me.

Chatty Crone said...

I third it - hate snakes. I do love the trails - looked like a good one and the boys are growing up so fast. Very interesting tour. Thanks.sandie

Nancy Claeys said...

Such good exercise for the boys! :)

Sonya @ Under the Desert Sky said...

That looks like so much fun! Aside from being startled by a snake, that is!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

We also have the best field trip days on those random days off of school!

Bonnie said...

I love exploring trails. I think that is something you never grow out of.

http://www.glamkittenslitterbox.com/
Twitter: @GlamKitten88

Valerie said...

I think it's so wonderful that you take your boys on these kinds of outings. My parents did the same when I was a kid, and I still remember them fondly, and I think it helped me develop a love for history and the outdoors! Glad you guys had such a fun trip, Lisa:)

TexWisGirl said...

now THAT'S good use of a 'snow day'. :)

Sally said...

Awww, I always love seeing the boys on your adventures.

I had to laugh~X2! :)

Have a great weekend, Lisa!

Slamdunk said...

Looks like lots of fun. We still have to bring our "chariot" for our youngest who prefers to walk and then be pushed--so he can snack.

Have a good weekend Lisa.

Ginny said...

What a wonderful place to go for a hike, and really it doesn't even look steep. Lots of cool things and surprises on the way, and no crowding! i bet they loved the creek!

Nezzy said...

Awwwww, what a great group of hikers ya got there sweetie. Thanks for lettin' us tag along.

It looks like a fantastic place for wonderment and discovery you young Alpha Males! Yours are darlin' sweetie!

God bless and have yourself a delightful weekend !!! :o)

Tracy said...

What a lovely place you found...love the old barn structure and the hiking trails look very inviting! You boys are adorable!

Betsy from Tennessee said...

What a wonderful hike, Lisa. Those are the kinds of hikes we love too... Love that name!!!!!

Cute picture of the 3 sons together... One of your twins is quite a bit larger than the other, isn't he????

Have a great weekend.
Hugs,
Betsy

Michaele said...

still grinning about 'juice boxes all around'. Gotta keep those boys busy don't you?

Michael said...

ah, those fences...love them too...makes me homesick

Loretta said...

Oh Lisa, you are a brave one...my camera would be throw and I would be out of there...Yeah, call me chicken, I don't care because I don't do those things...at all! lol.
The boys seem to be enjoying themselves, but you can see where something happened...tired or bored! Hugs

shirley said...

Sounds like a wonderful day! A 2 mile hike is just about perfect with little ones. I bet it's even nicer when the trees leaf out.

Madge Bloom said...

Your boys are SO daw-gone cute.. and your in SHORTS! My kids (when they were young) would have love that place!

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

I didn't know about this trail--good to know, because it looks interesting and quiet. Looks like your boys are troopers and adventurers!

Great pictures, too, but I wasn't happy to see the snake. That's something about the warm/hot months that I don't like!

laughwithusblog said...

Sounds awesome!

Tweedles -- that's me said...

I love hiking too.
And you have such beautiful weather!
love
tweedles

Crystal Green said...

I love taking nature walks like this one. I'm counting down until I can take our kids to some of our local parks this year for our walks. :) I'll be able to take a lot of nice pictures this year.

**Side note, I'm glad you checked out my blog. I see we have many things in common!! :)

Carolyn said...

Wow, what a great day out. I love the warmer weather!
Snake! Yikes!

Kim said...

This looks like a wonderful place to hike and the boys look happy, adorable and big!

Rob-bear said...

What a neat hike for you an the cubs (even if they got a little grumbly). Weather looks perfect, indeed. And fortunate the Snake was friendly.

Blessings and Bear hugs!

Rob-bear
Chrome on the Range

Connie Arnold said...

Thanks for sharing the great photos! It's wonderful for children to be out enjoying nature and history, a good learning, fun experience.

Fernando Santos (Chana) said...

Muito bom para as crianças...Espectacular....
Cumprimentos

Lin said...

And then everyone went home and took a nice, long nap! (Including mom!) Hee! Hee!

Looks like a great day to be outside. :)

GardenofDaisies said...

Two delightful days of exploring with the boys!!! So fun!

Barbara said...

How fun. My oldest loves hikes but I'm not brave enough to try it with the little one just yet.

Lexie Loo, Lily Boo, and Dylan Too! said...

How fun! That looks like a wonderful hike!