This lovely June day was the perfect setting for a combined hike with the PATC - Charlottesville Chapter, the Outdoor Adventure Social Club, and the Nature Conservancy to White Oak Canyon. As a benefit of this coordinated activity, the Nature Conservancy had arranged for a wine tasting at Ducard Vineyard, a short drive from White Oak, and a short video from the Nature Conservancy about land preservation.
Joining us this day from the OASC was Dallas Branum, Steve Cohen, Jennylynn Vidas, Katherine Maus, Karen Thompson, and CJ Woodburn. The PATC included regulars John Brandt, Eric Christensen, Brad Young, Bill Holman, and Dave Borszich along with distant member Pat Skelly (Augusta, GA) and our special guest hikers Neil McKinney and Tricia Neumann. At the trailhead, we were joined by Trish Carter and Sue Ellen Davison of the Nature Conservancy. We began our hike meandering along the banks of the creek in White Oak Canyon, enjoying the plentiful water. We stopped to admire the Lower Falls, and even John Brandt figured he would wait a little while before his swim. With Steve Cohen in the lead, we climbed the 1000 feet at our own pace, admiring the water seeping from rocks that would attract ice climbers during the winter months. While the fabulous weather did bring out others, it was not congested. We took a ½ hour lunch break at the overlook at the top of the Upper Falls, a welcome site for the over ½ the group who had never been on this trail. Some in sun, some in shade, we enjoyed our food and shared the cookies of the day.
Descending back the way we came, we marveled at the wonderful weather. Once reaching the Lower Falls again, only John and Pat were hot enough to fully submerge themselves, with Tricia, Iva, and Jennylynn getting our feet wet. We returned to the cars and headed to Ducard Vineyard for the winetasting part of the day. Only about 10 minutes from the trailhead, it is the perfect spot for post hike relaxation. Scott Elliff, the owner, and Rich Leahy, a long time PATC hiker and wine expert, were there to help us understand and appreciate the entire wine growing and tasting experience. We were treated to both red and white samples while the Nature Conservancy showed a video about the importance of conservation efforts and their successes and efforts for the future. After the film and some questions and answers from Doug, Scott took us outside to see the vines and tell us the Ducard story. Such a lovely spot and an enthusiastic proprietor made this a special day. Thanks to Trish Carter for making the arrangements for the PATC’s first “Wiking!”