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Monday, December 10, 2012

Ain't no bull

Sundays have become a day to get away from the Chinese language (for a few short hours, anyway) and, lately, worries over visas, and just spend time ambling through the woods with my daughter. Today it was a short half-hour drive west on Interstate 66 to the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area, 2500 acres (1012 hectares) managed by the non-profit Bull Run Mountains Conservancy

Our walk began by crossing the train tracks - taking a photo of Amber while keeping a wary eye for the sudden appearance of a freight train brought back memories of a close call my cousin and I once had.

The sky was overcast, the trees were mostly bare of leaves and, with the exception of a few birds and squirrels, wildlife was scarce. The overall effect was beautiful in a grungy, Pacific Northwest kind of way. 

Dawson's Cemetery, located deep in the woods. William Dawson has been lying here since 1853.

My daughter really seemed to enjoy herself in the woods this afternoon. I hope she'll always have this love of the outdoors. Now if the two of us could only convince the third member of our family to significantly alter her sedentary lifestyle...

A long section of trail made its way along a ridge to the top of the southern extension of High Point Mountain, passing by exposed sections of ancient quartzite.

As we reached the top, the fog came rolling in. Or rather, we reached the fog, which was there waiting for us, and kept us company as we walked along the top of the ridge.

Eventually, we descended from the fog bank, and made our down to a hollow

A dilapidated wooden house sitting forlornly in a grove of beech trees. It was apparently the home of a mill worker, who soon moved out after the mill closed down in 1951.

The ruins of the aforementioned mill. Chapman's Mill was built in 1742 and ground cornmeal and flour until its closure in 1951. During the Civil War, Confederate forces used the building to store meat, before burning it down in 1861 after the First Battle of Bull Run. The mill was restored and back in action by 1876, but a fire in 1998 left the building the gutted ruin it is today.

Amber strikes a pose next to Quarry's Trench, site of the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap. From where she's standing, Union troops were firing at point-blank range at Confederate forces on the other side of the trench. 

The family cemetery of the Chapmans, owners and operators of the Chapman Mill.

Our walk today was a short one, taking only about three hours, covering a distance of approximately 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers), with an elevation gain of only 810 feet (247 meters), despite our ascent into the fog. Cemeteries, ruins and history combined quite nicely with the early winter scenery to make this one of our most enjoyable short hikes.

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