We've been up at Mountain Lake several times this year for different jobs and were just there again this past weekend. The last time we were up there it was Labor Day weekend--it was sunny and we were wearing shorts, sleeveless shirts and sweating a lot. What a difference a month and a couple thousand feet in elevation makes! At nearly 4,000 ft, the temperature up there was already like winter, and all the vegetation is well into the autumn season. Mountain Lake, formed 6,000 years ago, used to be a lake that covered 50 acres and one of only two natural lakes in Virginia. Due to natural occurrences, the lake has been slowly draining since the 90's and is now just a fraction of the size. A lot more info about the lake can be read here: http://www.virginiaplaces.org/watersheds/mountainlake.html
Reminders of a once full lake and the summer recreation that went along with it are still strewn about in what has now become a pretty gorgeous meadow--old paddle boats, canoes, docks--abandoned with hope that the water might return. But the meadow and new ecosystem that has sprung up in place of the lake is spectacular and lends itself to lots of exploration and general traipsing around.
We'll be posting more photos over the next week or so from our many trips to Mountain Lake from the last year.