Jan 8– Mint Springs Valley Park, Crozet

Another tofu delivery day in Charlottesville.  It was pretty cold this morning, had to scrape a thick layer of frost from the windshield of the delivery van.  Despite being hungover from “overdoing” it last night, I was able to appreciate the beauty of the winter morning as I made my way to the highway:

IMG_1303

Before lunch, I stopped again in Meadowcreek park in C’ville to pick some oyster mushrooms to give the guy at the Hibachi grill.   I found a decent handful, but was more aesthetically impressed with these attractive (although inedible) shelf fungi:

Shelf  mushrooms in Meadowcreek park

Shelf mushrooms in Meadowcreek park

My delivery day finished in Crozet, as it does every other week.  As it was fairly early in the day, and Crozet is so close to the mountains, I decided to do some exploring.  Following a promising-looking sign for “Mint Springs Valley Park,” I found myself a mile west of Crozet on this pretty rural road:

driving out of Crozet to Mint Springs park

Mint Springs Park itself was quite delightful.  I only had a short while to explore, but would love to come back for a longer trip sometime.  The park consists of a valley between the main bulk of the Blue Ridge mountains and a smaller parallel ridge.  In the valley are three ponds, a large swimming pond at top, a smaller fishing pond in the middle, and a tiny pond tucked deep into the woods below the other two.  The hillsides have miles of hiking trails, although (predictably) I wasn’t able to get more than 100 yards down an ‘official’ trail before I just wandered off into the woods.

Mint Springs Valley Park, as seen from Google Earth

Mint Springs Valley Park, as seen from Google Earth

cool wiggly forest in Mint Spring Park

pretty lower pond in Mint Springs Park

The part of the park I explored was filled with signs of previous human habitation and activity.  I passed what appeared to be an old homesite, nothing left but stone foundations.  Further in the woods, there was a weird buried tank with a stovepipe on it, lots of old bits of rusty pipe, and ancient bits of unrecognizable machinery, rusted out of recognition.  It all made me wonder if the entire place was part of some long-abandoned waterworks.  I also came across a couple of moss-covered stacked rock walls that looked like something out of an abandoned Mayan ruin, quite beautiful actually.  Here are some photos.

abandoned homesite in Mint Springs Park

weird abandoned tank with stovepipe in Mint Springs Park

strange pipe in the woods in Mint Springs Park

old rockwork in Mint Springs Park

another old pipe in Mint Springs Park

very cool old wall below lower lake in Mint Springs Park

I ended my wanderings at the trail-less lower pond, which, being in a deep valley and shaded by trees, was still half frozen.  A curved line marked the transition from solid ice to slushy water, with beautiful patterns (pictured below) along the edge.

pretty lower pond in Mint Springs Park

patterns on half-frozen pond in Mint Springs Park

more cool patterns on half-frozen pond in Mint Springs Park

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