Ann’s Falls in February

Landscapes from Floyd County, Southwest Virginia by Fred First

Click image to enlarge

For those of you who have read Slow Road Home, this is Ann’s Falls spoken of in the book.

For those of you who haven’t read Slow Road Home, what are you waiting for!

SHE drug me up the hillside last week, insisting it would be worth my time. (But then, she’ll say anything to entice me out for a walk.) But she was right. I have some other pix of the ropes we’ve tied between trees on the way up that enable us to get to the falls–a handhold necessary even when there hasn’t been a winter storm and long, hard freeze.

It’s some rugged terrain, but once we get there, we’re always glad we made the effort.

Sadly, the falls are likely to become inaccessible one of these days. Several large (and of course, dead or dying) hemlocks at the rim of the falls will someday rot, and the tops, or the entire tree, will fall across the trail and the little trickle below. Then it will be decades before another photographer can get a clean view and appreciate the scene we were greeted with the other day.

Perhaps it’s worthy of note and relevant to this prediction that the sinuous tree trunk lying across the near foreground of this image is that of an American Chestnut, another species that belonged in the southern forest–once–but succumbed to a blight.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I was going to comment on that piece of wood, and what a wonderful patter it makes. It is good that you are making a record of that area, Fred, especially if it will become inaccessible.

  2. my….that DOES look steep! very beautiful, though. and, yes, what kenju said…it is invaluable that you are keeping these “nature journals” of sorts, of your plot on goose creek.