Random (but not really)

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  

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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Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, April 22, 2018

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

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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: 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  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley

Of course we hiked the Blackwater Trail at Canaan Valley, because it’s one of my favorite trails, and since it’s short and easy, there’s never a reason not to hike it.

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I’ve been trying for as long as I’ve been hiking this trail to get a picture I liked of these stones (they are in several places). Finally, with the light coming through the winter trees and the snow lightening everything, I finally got a couple pictures I liked.

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Ice sandwich!

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Written by Michelle at 8:06 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

It had warmed up by the time we made it to New River Gorge, but there was still snow, and it was still beautiful.

We hadn’t been to endless wall in the winter before, so I was surprised to see 1) how close we actually were to the ground and 2) the shape of the underlying mountains.

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With the leaf fall, you can see across the river to the Kaymoor Miners Trail and old Kaymoor Mine site.

If you zoom in on this picture, you can more clearly see the 821 steps down to the railroad tracks.

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Here is the bottom of the site and you can see the decayed buildings and ghosts of the railroad tracks.

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The trail itself is a relatively easy and has an amazing payoff.

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We wandered off trail a bit to explore the creek.

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Written by Michelle at 9:37 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Babcock State Park

We were originally heading to Cranberry Glades when I realized how beautiful the morning was, and that Babcock State Park would most likely be beautiful, so we stayed on 19 and were well-rewarded.

We didn’t hike much, just walked around finding the places I thought would be most beautiful.

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Written by Michelle at 9:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley & Blackwater Falls

Since we’d had a cold snap after the rains, and since temps were supposed to start rising, we took Friday to travel to Blackwater Falls in hopes that the falls were frozen.

It hadn’t bee cold enough to freeze the falls completely, but there was still a fair amount of ice.

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Why yes, I did ignore the “Closed” sign and went down the stairs.

For this view? It was worth it. (Plus, I was very careful.)

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Pretty!

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We also went down to Elakala Falls.

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Let me be clear, the scramble down is never especially easy, but in the winter, especially after a lot of rain and then a snap freeze, the path is treacherous.

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We wore Yaktrax, because I know very well how clumsy I am.

But it was well worth it.

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Because it was already warming up, water was starting to trickle down the icicles.

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We also went to Canaan Valley SP.

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I mentioned that earlier we’d had rain and then a quick freeze earlier. I hadn’t quite thought about how that would affect this boggy, marshy area.

What happened is that the low areas flooded, and then froze. So any low-lying ground ended up covered in ice.

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Normally we’ll walk out to the end of this bit of land, but the path was solid ice–and slippery. So we just looked (it wasn’t worth the view to pull out and put on the Yaktrax). It was pretty amazing.

If you look closely at this picture, you’ll see that a layer of ice formed on the grass, several inches above the ground.

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It was a wonderful day, and I’m glad we were able to get away to enjoy it.

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Written by Michelle at 11:18 am      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, January 1, 2018

Hiking WV: End of 2017 Start of 2018

We ended 2017 with a hike and Coopers Rock, and began 2018 in the same way.

It was cold, but the days were beautiful so we had wonderful hikes!

Date: 2017-12-31
Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Headwaters, Roadside Trails
Distance: 3.3 miles
Elevation: 1874-2412 feet
Temperature: 11-14 F

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Date: 2018-01-01
Location: Coopers Rock State Forest
Trails: Hemlock Trail
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elevation: 1620-1866 feet
Temperature: 8-10 F

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Written by Michelle at 7:40 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

As I’ve mentioned before, this is one of my favorite hikes. It’s very short, so it’s good for small kids, but you walk through different habitats and it’s just gorgeous.

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This is the first time the Blackwater river has been frozen when we’ve hiked here.

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This is the point at which someone went through the ice–and that someone was NOT me.

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Picture taking had been curtailed after someone (NOT ME) got their lower leg wet. But I still got a couple shots I really liked.

Written by Michelle at 10:21 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Dolly Sods

Friday was overcast and snowing, which was beautiful in its own way, but not very photogenic.

By Saturday afternoon, skies were clear and the sun was out. It was beautiful.

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It was a beautiful hike on a beautiful day with lovely company.

Written by Michelle at 10:16 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Hiking WV: Coopers Rock

We went hiking on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, Black Friday, that Sunday, and Sunday the 3rd. I forgot my camera for the first two hikes, and only pulled it out once when I did remember it.

The thing about the woods in fall is that it’s beautiful, but I can’t say it’s especially photogenic.

At Coopers Rock, unless you’re hiking Ravens Rock, pretty much every trail is down hill on your way out, and then uphill on your way out.

Here you’re at the bottom of the Rhododendron trail. Mont Chateau is off to your right. Henry Clay Iron Furnace, Clay Furnace Trail, Clay Run Trail, and Advanced Ski Trail are all behind you. Several of those trails have trails branching off of them, so you can make a variety of loops.

But it’s all going to be uphill from here, unless you go down to the lake. Then it’s even more uphill upon your return, unless you have someone to drive you back from the lake up the mountain to where you left your car.

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Here is one of the two bridges by Henry Clay Iron furnace. This is the area where multiple streams meet to then run down to the lake. Going up most of the trails you can see the streams turn from running water to run off areas that are flowing only after a rain or when the snow melts.

But down here, there is always water.

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And then leaves piled up in the stream.

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I can spend, literally, hours wandering around these streams, building rock towers, knocking down leaf dams and moving sticks that are blocking the stream.

My excuse is that I want to keep the streams and run-off areas from backing up onto the trails, which makes them a muddy mess that is exacerbated by all the mountain bikes, but truly, I just like playing in the water.

Written by Michelle at 1:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

I decided a couple weeks ago that for fall pictures, visiting places during the week would be less crowded and thus much nicer. We still saw people at New River Gorge, because I wanted to hike some of the best views, but it was not crowded, which was lovely.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Long Point
Distance: 3.1 miles
Elevation: 1779-2106 ft (539 ft gain)
Temperature: 67-70 F

They spent the summer doing a lot of work on Long Point, and it’s now open again. They replaced the board walk with a causeway, raised the trail in several of the muddy places, and rerouted the trail in other places.

All of which is a sign of how heavily used that trail is, and why you should hike it during the week, rather than the weekend.

Of course, there is good reason the trail is so busy. Because of this view.

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And also because of this view.

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Even this view:

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The other trail we took was Endless Wall out to Diamond Point.

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Endless Wall (to Diamond Point and back)
Distance: 2.2 miles
Elevation: 1838-1980 ft
Temperature: 70-68 F

One day we’ll hike the entirety of Endless Wall. But since it’s generally the last hike of the day, since Diamond Point is prettiest in late afternoon/early evening, I don’t expect it to be any time soon.

I actually think the view at Diamond Point is nicer than Long Point, but you can’t see the bridge as clearly, so perhaps that’s why it’s less popular with non-climbers.

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The sun and clouds were really uncooperative, so this is one of the best pictures I got. You’ll have to take my word for it that it was even prettier than this.

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Written by Michelle at 9:26 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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