Headwaters Geology Field Trip with Professor Callan Bentley

by Tom Long               March 30, 2013, Fort Valley, Shenandoah County, VA

Veach Gap hikeThe early spring morning was crisp and clear as a group of Headwaters Master Naturalists gathered at the Fort Valley Community Center and Library. Northern Virginia Community College Assistant Professor of Geology and Fort Valley resident Callan Bentley joined RoxAnna Theiss, Dwayne and Pat Martin, Art Vasy, and Tom Long. Our goal for the day’s adventure was to learn more about the geology of the Blue Ridge and Massanutten mountains as well as the Shenandoah Valley and Fort Valley.

Our first stop, the Woodstock Tower, is one of the relatively few old towers in the George Washington National Forest that the public can still climb. To the west lies the Shenandoah Valley, the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, and the Allegheny Mountains beyond. To the east your gaze is across Fort Valley through Woodstock Gap to the Shenandoah National Park. In the chilly breeze atop the tower that offers rare 360° views, Callan gave an interesting overview of the geologic forces that created the mountains, valleys, and the famous seven bends of the river.

Callan hike to Veach GapThe Hike up Veach Gap is a gradual assent with some stream crossings. Callan lead us just off the trail climbing over rock debris to a couple stunning examples of an anticline – a fold in the rocks that is convex up with the oldest beds at its core. Sitting on the rocky hillside, we learned more about how anticlines form and other geological features of the gap. Callan set up his Giga Pan controlled camera to take panoramic pictures of the formations which will eventually become part of a worldwide data base.