Monica’s and my Virginia excursion is winding down. Tomorrow we will head home. However, I thought I’d give a few preliminary trip reports this evening, saving the myriad of details until I’m comfortably settled in my easy chair at home. So here it goes with the first preliminary report.
Our first big event was a climb to the top of Sharptop, one of the two Peaks of Otter in the southern Virginia Blue Ridge. Sharptop is a respectable 3,875 feet in altitude and was once thought to be Virginia’s highest mountain. That distinction goes to Mount Rogers at 5,729 feet, but Sharptop is still very much a favorite.
The shortest route up is 1.5 miles and gains around 1,300 feet of altitude. The trail is extremely well maintained. There are lots of rock steps. It isn’t a hike for folks with bad knees. But the view from the top is awesome. Actually, climbing Sharptop is a religious pilgrimage for some people and visitation is heavy. The first image below shows the summit view, looking northward toward Flattop, Sharptop’s sister peak. Flattop is actually the higher of the two. It is 4,001 feet. It was once called Roundtop.
Swiveling the camera around, I took the next shot looking down and east toward the community of Bedford.
One of the most aesthetic features of both Sharptop and Flattop is the blend of large rocks and old trees. The trees form old growth communities in the upper elevations. The rock-tree communities can be extraordinary, and for me, were a discovery. The next image shows a typical rock-tree scene going up Sharptop.
The next image highlights an area of old growth chestnut oak. I haven’t been able to calculate the probable acreage of old growth, but it has to be in excess of 50 acres. I suspect it is more on the order of 65 to 75. I counted over 200 annual rings on several trunks that had fallen across the trail and had been cut. They were the rule rather than the exception.
The last image is an extraordinary scene of a white oak swallowing a rock. I’ll let the image do the rtalking.
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder and Executive Director
Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
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