Random (but not really)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Traveling WV: The GPS Really Is Trying To Kill You

It’s a running joke between Michael and I about how often we ignore the GPS, because it’s trying to kill us.

Here’s a road that is at least marked as inaccessible to cars, but that didn’t stop three vehicles trying to go down the road during our brief walk. Often, the roads are NOT marked as such, so take caution when turning down any gravel road in WV.

Because your GPS really is trying to kill you.

It doesn’t look too bad here. We stopped one SUV of foreigners from attempting the road. (“No! Your vehicle will NOT make it!”)

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Dappled light makes it difficult to see this is a puddle stretching completely across the road. You cannot tell how deep it is. (It’s there year round. It’s deep.)

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This is the first section of road that causes people to turn around. Most cars do not have the clearance to go over those rocks. Lots of trucks don’t have the clearance to go over those rocks.

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It’d been raining recently, so the creek across the road was unusually high. But even in dry weather there is always a small creek there.

There was a truck in the creek when we walked back. I think he was just playing around, but he was slipping while trying to turn.

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Now we’re past the creek, and the road really turns into a muddy mess.

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This is why I always advise people to NOT take a gravel or dirt road, unless that is their destination. A short cut really isn’t. Especially if you don’t have cell signal and are trying to find someone to tow you out.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,Travel,West Virginia  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

This is a ridiculously easy hike, but it’s also one of my favorites, because it is always beautiful.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Blackwater River Trail
Distance: 0.8 miles
Elevation: 3243-3331 feet

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Written by Michelle at 2:00 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Seneca Rocks

It’d been awhile since we hiked up Seneca Rocks on a weekend day.

It was ridiculously busy. Which is good, because it means people were spending the weekend doing outdoors things here in WV. But less good for someone who likes solitude.

On the plus side, the homestead was open, and they had extra items on display, including many old quilts.

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Click through for other pictures of the quilt.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sunday Flower Pr0n

Most of these are from Seneca Rocks and environs.

Irises are kind of embarrassing to look at, when you think about what flowers really are.

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Day lily found at homestead at Seneca Rocks

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BLUETS!

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Crabapple!

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Written by Michelle at 4:40 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

Despite off and on again rain, we went to Coopers Rock on Saturday, and we had a surprising amount of sun, making it a beautiful hike.

We made it to my favorite place.

It was good.

Location: Coopers Rock
Trails: Rhododendron, Mont Chateau, Ridge Trails
Distance: 4.7 miles
Elevation: 148-2092 feet (804 ft gain)

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Traveling WV: Thurmond

Thurmond, WV used to be a coal town and rail hub, and trains still run regularly through the area.

The population of Thurman at the last census was five, and most of the land in the area belongs to either CSX or the National Park Service, the latter of which has been attempting to preserve the remaining buildings.

Former National Bank of Thurmond

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Thurmond Post Office, closed in 1995

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Coaling Tower

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Ruins being taken back by the woods.

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

Since it’d been awhile, we headed to New River Gorge, and went to one of the (many) areas we hadn’t hiked before: the Thurmond area.

We first went to see the town of Thurmond (separate post) which has been all but a ghost town for decades (the post office closed in 1995). Then we took our hike. We chose the Stone Cliff Trail, when runs beside the New River for its length.

What was particularly nice was that aside from the day-use area and the very start of the trail, we didn’t see anyone and had the trail to ourselves. We hiked 2 1/4 miles out–close to the end–but then I noticed that it was already 3, and we still had to stop at the brewery and eat dinner and then drive home, so we turned around and headed back.

Location: New River Gorge, Thurmond
Trail: Stone Cliff Trail (partial)
Distance: 4.5 miles
Elevation: 980-1253 feet
Temperature: 83-85 F

Because the trail runs beside the river it is quite flat, and thus an easy hike.

Stream tumbling down the mountainside

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Stream crossing

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Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Things That Are Wrong

Let me be clear–most areas of WV in which I travel are pretty litter free. Student areas in Morgantown? Not so much. But I don’t see a ton of litter when I’m out and about. So there is a good possibility that a good deal of the trash is from flooding rather than littering.

And there is a LOT of organic matter there as well, which is of course no ones fault.

But there is still a lot of trash in there–non-biodegradable trash–and that is a problem.

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Written by Michelle at 8:30 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Morgantown,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, April 23, 2018

Permanence and Transience

Unlike a lot of other places in the US (or the world I suppose) there are many many areas of WV that have been abandoned.

Mines stopped producing and not only was the equipment left to rust in place, but the camps surrounding the mines slowly crumbled as well.

Mountains were clear-cut of all trees, and the logging towns that had sprung up around them were deserted.

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Then after the people left, the forests came back, hiding all but the most massive of structures. But even those structures are slowly being taken back by nature.

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Because we have hiked so much of WV, I’ve seen many of these places. You’ll be hiking along and unexpectedly come across a chimney, or a rusted barrel, or the foundation of building, or railroad ties, all but hidden by the soil and moss and trees.

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Or a cemetery. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of small cemeteries scattered throughout the state, where homesteaders and pioneers buried their dead, sometimes with carved tombstones.

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Sometimes just with stones.

Prickett Fort Cemetery

But the engravings eventually erode away, leaving just a rough stone, the names and dates and verses gone with the snow and the rain.

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I try to stop at these hidden and nearly lost cemeteries when I come across them. I think about how it’s been generations since anyone remembered the sound of their voices.

Yet even as the structures crumble and names are washed away, every spring I stumble across the reminder of homes when all that is left is uneven ground.

What I find in the woods are patches of daffodils, thriving and spreading, marking out yards where someone once planted bulbs so they would have flowers at the end of winter. And so I find a tiny bit of beauty in the woods, appearing every spring and then disappearing, like the homes they decorated.

And I like that.

I like that even as buildings and names and dates disappear into time, these spots of yellow appear every spring.

I like the reminder that even if we are completely forgotten, something still remains. Beauty at the end of winter, coming back year after year.

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(Some of the pictures I’ve taken at the cemeteries I’ve come across and some of the pictures I’ve taken of decaying structures and items.)

Written by Michelle at 6:13 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: West Virginia  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday Flower Pr0n: Wild Flowers!

The arboretum is FULL of wild flowers right now!

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Trillium

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Dutchman’s Breeches, Dicentra cucullaria

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Spring Beauties, Claytonia virginica

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Virginia bluebells, Mertensia virginica

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Trout Lily, Erythronium americanum

Written by Michelle at 6:23 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Flowers,Morgantown,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Snake Hill WMA

As much as I love the Morgantown Farmers Market, I *hate* their winter market hours. 11 AM on a Saturday means we can EITHER go to the market OR go somewhere and go hiking.

Despite the beautiful weather, we went to the Farmers Market, so we needed a close place to hike on Saturday, so we ended up at Snake Hill WMA (Wildlife Management Area). There are multiple logging / gas / access roads and multiple trails off them. The trails are unmarked and not blazed, but they had enough use to be pretty obvious.

The trail we set out to hike–the Canyon Rim trail–has four overlooks: Table Rock, Lake View, Middle View, and River View. For trails and overlooks that are not maintained, three of the four had excellent views. We also only came across one other group of hikers, which for a beautiful Saturday afternoon, was nice. (At Coopers Rock on nice days there are a constant stream of people; it’s nice people are visiting the forest, but not nice for relative solitude.)

Location: Snake Hill WMA
Trails: Canyon Rim, Cheat View, Little Hoop, Big Dipper, Northside Trails
Distance: 3.8 miles
Elevation: 1715-2342 feet (698 feet elevation rise)

Facing west towards Cheat Lake (Lake View overlook)

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Facing east towards Cheat River, Raven Rock is on the left (River View overlook)

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Coopers Rock Overlook. I swear I’ve never noticed that giant rock down and to the right.

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In Snake Hill WMA there is a small cemetery, with three gravestones, and one rock that might be a marker. All three males (ages 4, 17, 19) died in 1860, two in July and one in October.

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Written by Michelle at 3:43 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Morgantown,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hiking WV: Blackwater Canyon

You would think that a trail called the Canyon Rim Trail would have lots of views of the Blackwater Canyon.

You would be mistaken.

That doesn’t make this a bad trail, and there are views at either end: the Olsen Fire Tower at the Western end, and along the Allegheny Trail at the Eastern terminus.

The trail itself is part of the Allegheny Trail, which you can take through WV. It also means this trail is getting some extensive maintenance right now, to shore up sections that have become muddy messes.

Location: Monongahela National Forest
Trail: Canyon Rim Trail
Distance: 6.6 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3162-3705 feet (994 feet gain)

Along the trail, this is as good a view as you get. And once the leaves are out, it’ll be even less.

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It was a little steep in a couple of places, and rocky and muddy in other places, but it isn’t a difficult hike for anyone who is in shape.

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You get to cross several streams, one of which has a “Stone Bridge”. Most of the crossings should not be problematic unless the water is extremely high or flash flooding.

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But in addition to the very pretty creek crossings, if you do a little searching you can find the falls, which were absolutely lovely.

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This is where we sat and ate our lunch, and then clambered around on the rocks.

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And here’s the elevation graph of the hike.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley SP – Bald Knob

Our third hike on Friday was also at Canaan Valley State Park, but on the ski area part of the park.

This trail was NOT created by or for hikers. It’s labeled a cross-country ski trail, but is not maintained as such. If you want the view at bald knob, I recommend taking the lift up to the top of the mountain, then hiking across to Bald Knob.

The problem are the portions of the trail that are for skiing down. Hiking up or down such a trail isn’t that fun (Michael got blisters, due the steep grade for a longer distance).

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Bald Knob Mountain Trail
Distance: 4.6 miles (out and back)
Elevation: 3572-4336 feet (1000 feet gain)
Parts of the trail: 14% and 16% grades (or steeper)

But the view is lovely.

Here you are looking down into Canaan Valley.

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No switchbacks here. Straight down you go.

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The surprise was this:

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Here you can look down the OTHER side of the mountain. It was kinda cool, although I cropped out the ugliness of where they took out all the trees. It’s not yet a mowed lawn, it’s just a clear-cut clearing. Which is not so attractive.

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Someone (ie:me) forgot to turn on the GPS until we were part way up the mountain, so here’s the trip down, minus the leg up to the peak.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls

After dinner on Friday, we wanted an easy hike to stretch our legs out, so we did Lindy Point.

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Written by Michelle at 4:29 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley SP

Michael has use-or-lose-leave, so we spent a long weekend in the Canaan area doing lots of hiking.

In the morning we hiked two trails: Blackwater River trail and the Middle Ridge trail. I have pictures from the one and data from the other.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Middle Ridge Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles (loop)
Elevation: 3331-3558 (483 feet gain)
Temperature: 66-74

The Middle Ridge Trail doesn’t have many scenic vistas, but it does go through several different kinds of areas, and goes by a bog–it’s dry right now, so I didn’t find anything picturesque about the bog, but on the plus side, our feet stayed dry.

I do love the Blackwater River Trail

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Here is the elevation graph for the Middle Ridge Trail.

Written by Michelle at 3:47 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Hiking WV: Cacapon State Park

The weather recently has been all over the place, but Saturday was beautiful, so we took the opportunity to go to Cacapon. (I was also hoping that there might be blooming flowers at Berkeley Springs.)

For all the rain we’ve had, the trails we hiked were weirdly dry–because they were so steep.

Location: Cacapon State Park
Trails: Ziler, Ziler Loop Trails
Distance: 5.5 miles
Elevation: 961-2273 feet (1800 feet gain)
Temperature: 58-67 F

0.6 mile of Ziler trail was 22.6% grade
Entire Ziler trail was 1.3 miles @ 17.6% grade with 1242 feet ascent

For all the elevation gain, there aren’t any decent scenic overlooks or views–the woods are thick and there what rock outcroppings there are don’t go above the treeline.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a view, it just means there isn’t a photographable view.

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At some point we’re going take the trail to Prospect Rock. But this trip we apparently wanted to torture ourselves with the Ziler trail.

Cacapon hike

Written by Michelle at 8:55 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Hiking WV: Cranberry Wilderness

This may well have been our last hike in snow of the season, so I was glad we were able to enjoy it–and that it was such a beautiful day.

I love the Cranberry Wilderness and am glad we got to hike it in the snow.

Location: Cranberry Wilderness
Trail: Charles Creek, Cowpasture Trails
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation: 3422-3564 feet
Temperature: 31 F

There used to be a prison in this area–a prison that didn’t bother with walls and barbed wire, since it was so far away from civilization that there was nowhere for escaped prisoners to go.

Although this prison was open during the Korean war (conscientious objectors were typically sent here) there are very few signs of civilization left: some spots of asphalt, the occasional chimney, and some stairs.

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Charles Creek

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Written by Michelle at 8:55 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Cranberry Glades

Since it’s only a half mile, we always walk the Cranberry Glades Boardwalk when we are in the area. Because it’s the end of the winter, the boardwalk is in need of repair–if you need an accessible route, wait until spring when the forest service has been out to repair sections of the boardwalk.

The start of the trail follows the edge of the glade.

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I was surprised to see the pitcher plants coming up through the snow all along the boardwalk.

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Normally the underbrush is so thick you can’t see the bog, but at the end of the winter all the grasses are eaten are have died down and you can clearly see the boggy areas.

Beautiful!

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Written by Michelle at 8:38 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Falls of Hills Creek

The Falls of Hills Creek is one of the places where there is a very small window of time if you want light for taking pictures.

We managed to nail that window Saturday.

Lower Falls

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Hills Creek

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Middle Falls

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Written by Michelle at 8:27 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

Our original plan was the get to Canaan Thursday night and spend Friday and the weekend hiking, but when the forecast changed to rain on Saturday and overcast all Friday, we shifted things a bit so I could take pictures Thursday afternoon, and then Friday would be hiking.

We got very lucky, because instead of overcast, the weather was partially cloudy, and our hike at Dolly Sods ended up being absolutely stunning.

Location: Dolly Sods
Trails: Rocky Ridge, Blackbird Knob, Harman Trails
Distance: 4.2 miles
Elevation: 3746-4190 feet (684 ft)
Temperature: 30-41F

We’ve had a lot of odd weather this winter. For the second time this month, we had rain immediately followed by freezing temperatures and snow. When the rain fell on ground that was already freezing, it meant a lot of ice.

This was the trail we took up to Dolly Sods. It was a little more exciting than I generally prefer.

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Luckily, that was the worst portion of anything we hiked, and the view was well-worth the care we had to take reaching the ridge.

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Until temperatures warmed up to the mid 30s, all the trees were covered with snow and frost, and we walked through an amazing winter wonderland.

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We hiked down to the Left Branch of Red Creek and then turned around. It wasn’t one of our longest hike, but stepping into the occasional drift made the hike a little more work than usual.

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It once again reminded me how very lucky I am to both live in such an amazing place, and be able to get out and enjoy it.

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Written by Michelle at 8:53 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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