Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

Looking westward down the length of Black Pond, with the reflection of the trees and bedrock bluffs in the blue water.

The expanse of Black Pond from the eastern bank.

Black Pond is a hidden gem in Fairfax County, Virginia. Located on the grounds of The Madeira School, the spring-fed lake is nestled among bedrock bluffs, upland forests, and abundant and ecologically diverse vegetation.

On Thanksgiving morning, looking to work up an appetite for the feast later in the day, my daughter, eldest son, and I made the half-mile hike from Madeira’s campus to the lake. The journey took us down a steep, winding pathway with steps fashioned from logs along the route. Being November, it was a bit muddy and slippery, but we survived unscathed (mostly). Upon reaching the eastern bank of the lake, we were rewarded with a gorgeous view of rocky bluffs and beech, hemlock, and oak trees, still sporting the remnants of their fall foliage, reflected in the deep blue of the lake.

Wanting to explore what other views the lake had to offer, we ventured far off the beaten path, climbing up boulders and over fallen tree trunks, passing a cave (I refused to go in!), stepping over crevices (yikes!), all the while pushing and pulling each other as we marveled at the beauty of the changing views.

And then we found the other end of the lake. From atop an outcropping of rock, we could see the western bluffs, and beyond those, the glistening Potomac River Gorge (a favorite spot for kayakers and less adventurous spectators). It was our own scenic overlook and it was magnificent! Needless to say, we took quite a few photos of each other celebrating our find.

Alas, we had Thanksgiving dinner to attend to, and so we began the journey back to civilization. I, for one, didn’t want to revisit the path we had taken (going past that cave once was enough for me), so we set off and began to walk up what looked like a fairly easy slope. Let me just admit, mama isn’t always right. In retrospect, the cave might have been easier!

In the end, we accomplished what we had hoped – we definitely were ready to feast on turkey and all the trappings. But we gained so much more: wonderful memories of a family adventure inspired by Mother Nature’s pristine beauty. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to spend a Thanksgiving morning.

 Posted as part of the Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections.

10 thoughts on “Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

  1. I attended Madeira in the 70’s and spent time down at Black Pond. It was a great adventure to clamber over the warm boulders and stand high over the roiling rapids, and to dangle our feet in Black Pond where little sunfish would nibble on them. For my memoirs writing group I wrote recently about a grand adventure I and another student took when we actually canoed on the river – foolish, I know. I think the statute of limitations is now past for expulsion. Also, I suspect folks can’t visit the Pond due to it being part of the Madeira campus. Thanks so much for providing these pictures of a place that has special meaning for me.

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    • Hi, Antonina! I’ve been away on holiday and am just catching up on my blog. Imagine my delight in reading your comment about attending Madeira! My daughter is the lucky one – a senior this year. I had to laugh about your canoeing on the river. How you managed to pull that off, I can only guess 😉 You’re right that the Pond is not accessible to the general public, but the Parents’ Association sponsors hikes twice a year, one of which is open to the community. Last spring, we enjoyed picnicking around a campfire, along with some canoeing (on the pond), while surrounded by Virginia’s gorgeous bluebells. Did you ever get down to the pond in the springtime to see these? If not (or if you did and want to see them again), you may want to visit . I posted a number of landscape photos from that outing. Thanks for your lovely comment. I’m delighted my photos brought back good memories for you!

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    • Mary, I’m sad to say that Black Pond is on the property of a private school. That’s one of the reasons I chose to share these pictures – so that others could visit “virtually.” But if you ever want to see it firsthand, let me know. I’d be happy to take you down!

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      • One day….when it is warmer, I will venture up I-95! I’m hoping to see the cherry blossoms this year too. It is only about 55 miles to DC from here, but the traffic sometimes makes it feel like it is a thousand miles away.

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