Feb 24- walkin’ Monoccan, pt. 1

Years before I moved to Twin Oaks, the community bought an 80-acre parcel of wooded land south of Old Mountain Road, and named it Monoccan woods, after the native inhabitants of central Virginia.  It’s a good place to go if you don’t want to see anyone.  There’s no buildings of any sort on the property, and not even any proper hiking trails, just a confusing web of tractor paths.  The forest, for the most part, consists of young to medium-sized trees; because it gets thinned pretty regularly by the forestry crew, there aren’t many large blowdowns or standing dead trees.  I’ve wandered around there a few times in the years that I’ve lived here, but without many recognizable landmarks and with tractor paths running every which way, it’s pretty easy to get turned around and disoriented.  The picture below shows Monoccan woods, along with neighboring forested land:


The view looking west on Old Mtn Road.  Twin Oaks property is on both sides, but Monoccan woods is to the left.  Note the blueness of the sky.  After several long days of fog and drizzle, we finally got some sunshine and (relative) warmth, for which I was feeling pretty thankful.Image

From the road, it’s pretty easy to see the boundary of Twin Oaks property, since over the past few years, they’ve cleared all the trees right up to the edge of our land.  Image

Since I often get turned around back there, I decided to walk along the easy-to-follow eastern boundary of the property and figure out how far back I could go.  Past the edge of the field, it was wooded on both sides of the boundary, but a barbed wire fence marked the line.  In this photo, you can see the difference between the neighbor’s more open woods to the left, and Twin Oaks’ more overgrown land to the right.Image

As I walked further south, I was able to follow this tractor trail that more or less paralleled the property line, and made for easier walking.Image

Along the way, I came across these “kissing trees.” Cute.Image

There was nothing marking the southern boundary of Twin Oaks land, but at a certain point, the forest changed, with more large stumps of an even level of decomposition, as though most of the big trees had been logged out at once.  I figured I was on a neighbor’s land at that point, but pushed on for a few minutes more until I came to this field, which I’m guessing is the one visible at the bottom left of the aerial photo above.  It would have been possible to skirt the field and continue walking south through the woods, but I had to head back to cook dinner for the community, so I left it at that.  Image


On the way back, I intended to parallel the property line while staying a few hundred yards away, in order to keep my eyes open for anything I hadn’t spotted on the way in, but eventually I gave in to the convenience of walking on a trail.  So much easier, and to be honest, I didn’t really see much of anything new in the forest.  I think that I am going to change my focus over the next couple of weeks, searching for signs of oncoming spring in the fields, orchards, and ornamental gardens of Twin Oaks, because there really doesn’t seem to be any new developments in the woods; as much as I keep looking, I’m not seeing any swelling of bud, sprouting of new vegetation, or flushes of fungi.


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