Nine-Minute Naturalist: Ideas for Isolation

By David,

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Ideas for Isolation

by Josh Palumbo, Forest Management Coordinator

I welcome you to The Nature Foundation at Wintergreen’s attempt to bring some nature and knowledge into your home. The Nine Minute Naturalist borrows from NPR’s lovely 90-Second Naturalist podcast. Since we all have a bit more time on our hands, the goal is to take something that is happening out in our environment and stimulate your brain for roughly nine minutes. Don’t let something as “minor” as a quarantine to keep you from learning. I hope you enjoy!

At this point we are all a bit stir crazy from a life of quarantine. Isolation is not always easy but for those living in beautiful Nelson County or other nearby locals, we have the ideal setting for seclusion. The key is to get the most out of our time spent distancing from the general public. This chapter of the Nine Minute Naturalist will give you possible ideas to break the monotony here in our backyard of Nelson County. 

One obvious way to use our time is to go for a hike. With miles 1-13 of the Blue Ridge Parkway closed, you will need to get a bit more creative with your choices. Wintergreen trails are open and inviting to all. With over 30 miles of trails it is easy to explore for days and see nary a soul. Go to our website to download a trail map. Fortune’s Cove, owned by The Nature Conservancy, is open to public use during the pandemic. It is a very challenging 5.3 miles but worth the effort. There is also a grove of reintroduced American chestnut at the trailhead to explore. 

Nelson County is home to some of the best small river fishing in the state. The Tye and the Rockfish rivers are gorgeous and accessible to the most novice fisherman. Both offer easy wade fishing as well as fun canoe fishing at standard spring water levels. Once the dry summer weather arrives, water levels can be insufficient for canoeing. The Tye River can be accessed from Rt. 662 and Rt. 654. The Rockfish River can be accessed easily from Rockfish River Rd. Both rivers offer very good smallmouth bass and sunfish populations. For minimal cost, I recommend a 5’-5.6’ ultralight rod with 6lb test line. Buy a few Rapala crank baits and crawfish imitation crankbaits and you are ready to fish. 

Another great use of your time is to search for Virginia’s big trees. The Virginia Big Trees website offers a source for many of the state’s most magnificent specimens. Search Nelson or any of the surrounding counties and you will get a list of options to visit. Some of the trees are located on private property and may not be available at the present time. Assuming the restrictions get eased in the summer, The Nature Foundation will be leading another big tree tour in late summer that will showcase some special trees in central Virginia. 

How often have you driven by historic markers at 55mph wondering what they might have said? I have done it times untold. Now is the time to plan your drive around the historic markers. The Department of Historic Resources website allows you to search historic markers by county. Nelson County has 20 markers for you to search out and read. What better use of idle time than to learn more about the history of this beautiful county.

When dealt a bunch of lemons it might just be time to make lemonade. Use this time to get out into your environment in a way that follows the rules but also builds you up. Nelson County should be the ideal in social isolation without having to stay homebound. Enjoy, learn and make good use of the time given.


Fortune’s Cove


Historic marker




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