|Dave, stashing his bike behind some trees in the state forest.|
June 11 -- Dave Hirschman, who I work with in Charlottesville, was able to join me on my trek to see Dragon Run on the Middle Peninsula. Lucky for him, it was the hottest day so far. As I made my way from King and Queen Courthouse, Dave figured out how to shuttle his car to our destination point, then bike back towards me, then stash his bike in the woods, and then walk along with me. It’s a good thing Dave is smart – it would have taken me a while to figure that one out!
|Dave walking down dirt road through Dragon Run State Forest.|
|"Asbestos Waste Disposal Area - Do not create dust." Yikes.|
It was nice to catch up with Dave and have some company, especially for the dirt road section through Dragon Run State Forest which could have been a little spooky alone. According to a Virginia Department of Forestry website, the separate chunks of land west of Dragon Run that make up the state forest add up to over 9500 acres. We walked Route 602 which goes through the heart of the forest and didn’t come across anyone except a couple fox hunters rounding up their hound dogs from an adjacent hunt club property. They told us to watch out for big tractor trailers bringing in trash from far off places like New Jersey and New York to the local landfill. Though we must have been on a different route from the trucks, we did eventually see the growing dirt mound peaking over the trees in the distance. We learned later that the relatively new King and Queen County landfill is allowed to build up to over 430 feet high, which it may be already in places. Unfortunately, it is also sits within the watershed of Dragon Run, currently one of the cleanest waterways in the state, and will undoubtedly leak some day.
|The scene after a prescribed burn in Dragon Run State Forest.|
Dave and I arrived at the “Clay Tract,” an inconspicuous parcel of land owned by the Middle Peninsula Public Access Authority. I had asked for permission to camp here since nearly all the land in the Dragon Run area is either private or State Forest, where camping is prohibited. We walked into the gated parcel in search for the swamp that I had heard so much about. There it was, way back in the woods and down in a gully - lush and swampy and full of bald cypress...with birds and dragon flies there to greet us. The next day I would have a chance to ask all my questions about the stream to Teta Kain, Queen of the Dragon.
|I finally set my eyes on Dragon Run Swamp at the Clay Tract.|