Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.


Fisher Peak, Blue Ridge Music Center

My friend Dahna has organized a Hiking Club. The first outing was Saturday at the Blue Ridge Music Center. The center, located on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Milepost 213, has a couple of trails that cross a wetlands, a meadow and through the woods that cover Fisher Peak. The Fisher Peak Loop is 2.24 miles and the liner High Meadow Trail is 1.35 miles.

Chris, Sidney and I have hiked these trails multiple of times. My favorite is the loop trail, mostly because it provides a great look at how habitats can be affected by the amount of sun exposure and water sources available, among other things. One part of the loop is very dry and features hardwoods and pines. The moist side has lots of rhododendrons, undergrowth and beautiful fungi. This section is where I’ve taken photos of red efts (a form of the red-spotted newt).

I’ve written about the Blue Ridge Music Center before. Bands perform at the visitor center or on the stage various times during the year. The visitor center also has a museum devoted to the rich music history of the area. It should be on your must-visit list on the Parkway.

Here are some photos I took during Saturday’s trip:

Fisher Peak trail

Gnarly tree, Fisher Peak

Galax leaves in their winter splendor.

Galax leaves in their winter splendor.

Meadow at Fisher Peak


Smart View, Blue Ridge Parkway

We took advantage of the beautiful, sunny weekend to take a nice, long walk at Smart View Recreation Area on Sunday. It’s located near Milepost 155 off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Here’s a great post about the area.

The loop trail is about 2.6 miles and loops through a hardwood-pine mix forest and over a small creek. In the middle of the loop is a large picnic area.

Snow trail Smart View

It had been many years since we last visited Smart View, so everything felt new and fresh. Though it had been in the 60s for a couple of days, the shade from the trees had kept the snow from melting. This made several places slick.

Log bridge Smart View

Sidney looked a little unsure about the log bridge posted above, but she didn’t hesitate too long.

Snow bridge Smart View

This stone bridge, further down the trail, is wider and made for easier crossing.

The first section of the trail is fairly moderate with some steep hills. In many places the trail is narrow and we had to walk in single file. On the left were steep drops into the hollow below. There were many great views, easily seen through the bare tree limbs.

Smart View view

The last mile was fairly flat and passed close by the parking lot before circling back around by the road.

Trail Cabin Smart View

This is Trail Cabin, built in the late 1800s. The trail passes behind it. This part of the trail I do remember from several years ago. It’s a popular pull-off where people like to snap photos of the cabin. I remember walking out of the woods and seeing a crowd of people in the parking lot above. It was humorous to see the reactions the people had to us wandering out of the woods. I’m sure we weren’t the wildlife they were expecting to see!

Though it was a nice day, not too many people were out and about on the Parkway Sunday. Because of the snow, the Parkway is closed to visitors. Locals, like us, know the access roads and still visit. On our way back home, we had to get off the Parkway at Highway 8 near Floyd because the remaining snow across the road made it seem impassable. The bicyclist in front of us, however, apparently thought he could do it. Brave man, biking up a steep hill caked in snow and ice.


Whestone Ridge Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway

We stopped at Whetstone Ridge Visitor Center off the Blue Ridge Parkway for a break during our drive from D.C. and Mason Neck Wildlife Refuge.

At Afton Mountain, we got off I-64 and turned south on the parkway and drove to milepost 29, where the visitor center is located. Afton is where Skyline Drive and Blue Ridge Parkway meet.

We walked a little ways on the Whetstone Ridge Trail. It is a rocky trail and runs through a forest of oaks, pines, tulip poplar and mountain laurel. I thought it was a pleasant trail, though I thought, since the description of the trail said it follows the ridge, there would be more views. Chris didn’t think the trail offered a lot of variety.

A man we met who was leaving the trail as we were starting it said the first 4 miles are very easy going. He didn’t describe the remaining 7 miles, but he had 2 hiking poles, so maybe they’re a little strenuous. The visitor center’s description of the trail says 8 miles follow along a ridge and the remaining 3 miles go down the mountain.

There are two picnic tables at the center, so this could make a really good trip for a picnic and a hike.


Greenberry House has moved

Leslie of Greenberry House posted yesterday that the yarn shop has opened in its new location. By her post, it looks like she’s got most of her stock out. She carries lots of locally made yarn and other products. She’ll soon have her books set out, too, according to her post.

Leslie is a great person to talk to about all things spinning, crocheting or knitting. And, once you’re an avid fiber user, you have to check out her luxurious yarns made from angora, mohair, silk and wool, and others. If you’ve never worked with natural fibers, I’d recommend it. I am currently making a scarf from alpaca and it’s like a mini spa for my fingers. Instant stress relief. 🙂

Greenberry House is located in Meadows of Dan, a quaint little town off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia. While you’re there, make sure to check out Nancy’s Candy Co. and other shops in there area.


Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th

I had a migraine most of last weekend so I didn’t make it out to the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th as much as I wanted, but I did make it out to the Blue Ridge Music Center Saturday evening for the big show. I wish we could have gone to Cumberland Knob, but I wasn’t up to it.

While Chris walked around getting photos for work, I checked out the booths and listened to some of the old time music.

Members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee demonstration traditional dances and songs (along with a few volunteers from the audience).

On the stage, we heard presentation by local officials, Cherokee dances and songs and more old time music.

The main attraction of the evening of Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Stanley is a legend and I was bound and determined to see him perform. So, we did.

Here’s Stanley signing autographs way before the concert. That’s his grandson, Nathan, on his right. I had no idea Chris took this photo until I just went through them today.

The band opened up with “Man of Constant Sorrow” and ended on “I’ll Fly Away” (Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch version). They entertained us for over an hour with some familiar tunes and other stuff I didn’t recognize.

At one point, there were three Stanley generations on the stage — Ralph, son Ralph II and grandson Nathan.

Ralph Stanley mostly sang during the evening but did take up the banjo for one song. That was pretty cool.

Here’s some more photos from the event:

The audience got some flat footing lessons, thanks to Phil Jamison, before the main concert began.

The Buck Mountain Band provided the music for the flat footing lessons. My former editor, Amy, is playing the banjo. Hi, Amy!

The Round Peak Boys kicked off the evening concert.

Several classic cars cruised down the Parkway to the music center. The goal was to have 75 cars participate, but I don’t know if that many arrived at the center.

Area elementary schools in North Carolina and Virginia created birthday cards for the Parkway. The one in the upper right is my favorite: “I can’t believe you were open seventy five (sic) years. If I worked thier (sic) I would be exausted (sic),” written by Loxi, a third grader at a Virginia elementary.


Upcoming September events

Lots of events are coming up that are on my radar.

Carroll County (Va.) Fair
First off, this weekend is the Carroll County (Va.) Fair. I think Chris has to work some this weekend to cover it, so we might actually go.
(Please do not use any photos without permission.)
A girl pets a pig at the Carroll County Fair/Photo by Christopher Brooke
I’ve never been to the fair although it’s been held for a few years now. It’s really small, so there’s not much to it. But maybe it’s supposed to be small. I’ve never been to a county fair, only a state one. And state fairs are huge.
The county fair is held at the Southwest Virginia Farmers Market, right off I-77 at exit 14.
Hillsville’s Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show
Next weekend is Hillsville’s Labor Day Flea Market and Gun Show. I know many, many people probably already have this on their calendars.
I wonder if this will be the largest flea market yet. I swear tents started popping up along U.S. 58 a week ago.
I’m looking forward to seeing if the market expands this year and seeing if the sidewalks and streets will be hard to move through because of the thousands of people wandering around booths.
Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th
One of the biggest events I’m looking forward to is the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Festival, Sept. 10-12.
I know there have been several events throughout the year, but this will be the official celebration.
I want to go to the Blue Ridge Music Center in Galax, Va., and Cumberland Knob for the activities. I’m really looking forward to seeing Dr. Ralph Stanley at the music center that Saturday. I gotta see that man perform before he dies! (I’m not a big old time or bluegrass music fan, but I do enjoy some of it.)
If you go to the music center, check out the trail that winds up and down the peak behind the stage. It’s a nice, short hike.
You can check out the schedules and more information of the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation’s 75th Anniversary website here.
Hillsville’s Downtown Celebrations
Don’t forget about Hillsville’s downtown celebrations, featuring arts and crafts, classic car cruise-in and beach music.
I wrote about that here. The next concert is Sept. 11.
Chateau Morrisette’s Black Dog Wine and Beach Music Festival
Chateau Morrisette, 287 Winery Road SW, Floyd, Va., will continue its music festivals Oct. 9 with the Black Dog Wine and Beach Music Festival. The winery is located at Milepost 171.5 off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We visited the winery Aug. 14 for the Black Dog Wine and Jazz Festival. The day’s music featured salsa, jazz and Caribbean music, courtesy of Beleza Brazil and Los Gatos. It was so much fun!
The price of a ticket gets you admission, free wine tasting and a free wine glass. It’s a pretty good deal.
The glasses of wine we got this year at one of the Chateau’s wine and jazz festival./Photo by E.A. Seagraves
We also enjoyed lunch in the winery’s restaurant. I had a delicious lamb chop, couscous and asparagus. The dessert was a heavenly chocolate cake with espresso ice cream. We enjoyed the meal with a bottle of Chateau’s Blackberry Wine, probably one of our favorites.
The next events are Oct. 9 music festival will feature The Embers and Key West Band.