Random (but not really)

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Hiking WV: Roaring Plains (Monongahela Nat’l Forest)

The Roaring Plains are only 3 miles from Dolly Sods, but aren’t quite as crowded (which is nice). We saw people on the trail, but not a constant flow, the way our last hikes at Dolly Sods have been.

Compared to last weekend, we had a relatively easy hike–most of the trail was relatively flat, with only a few steep sections.

Location: Roaring Plains West
Trail: South Prong Trail (partial)
Distance: 6.3 miles
Elevation: 3929-4217 (676 feet climb)
Temperature: 60-57 F

The view of the valleys below was mostly just out of sight. This was the best view of the hike.

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But don’t think that made this a bad hike. It was a beautiful hike.

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Written by Michelle at 8:42 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Patriotism, or the Lack Thereof

This was originally a response to a comment on someone’s FB post, but I decided this is something I feel strongly about, and want to say to more than someone in a comment thread:

I have seen about a zillion people getting upset over athletes protesting by kneeling during the national anthem. Honestly, I think most of it is jumping on the wagon based upon little or no thought.

Here’s what I think about it.

Consider the American flag. There was a huge issue years ago about the constitutionality of burning the flag as a form of protest. Lots of people threw fits about protestors buring flags, wanted them arrested, locked up, they key thrown away, etc.

Here’s the thing. I actually know the guidelines for flying and care of the flag.

  • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
  • The flag should … displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

I own a flag, and I fly it on national holidays (sadly, admittedly, I often forget). When not in use that flag is ceremonially folded and stored in a safe place.

The flag and the national anthem are important and should be respected. That means making a protest using the flag or the national anthem should be done only as part of a protest or message about something the protester finds vitally important.

In the 60s and 70s that something was the Vietnam war. Currently that something is the plight of minority communities.

If you believe something strongly enough that you feel the only way to express that deeply held believe is to kneel during the national anthem or burn the flag, then you should do so. It is your right, but also, I believe, your DUTY.

I am far more offended by individuals leaving their flags out 24 x 7 unlit and uncared for because they want to be seen as “patriotic” than by someone burning the flag in political protest.

I cringe at the sight of torn and worn flags flying, because the people who are leaving them there care only about the veneer of patriotism. Literally, they want to be seen flying the flag, but they can’t be bothered to actually care for the item they are flying, or learn how to respectfully treat it.

If you believe that something is so wrong with our country that you need to burn a flag or kneel during the national anthem, then I believe it is your right–nay your moral duty–to do so. If you use the flag and the national anthem to give yourself the veneer of patriotism while acting in an utterly unpatriotic manner, that is, to me, FAR more offensive than taking a principled stand for something important to you.

Things I believe are patriotic:

  • Honoring and caring for our military veterans.
  • Voting in all elections.
  • Being aware of all the sides of political topics and making a reasoned choice based upon your deeply held beliefs rather than what looks good to those around you.

Patriotism is not spouting political rhetoric and pretending to care about an item of cloth or a song. Patriotism is how you act, based upon your fundamental beliefs about our country.

Written by Michelle at 2:51 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hiking WV: Blackwater Falls State Park

Our last stop was Blackwater Falls State Park. Initially we were going to wander around Pendleton Point and Pendleton lake, and then hike Lindy Point trail, but we both decided we were tired, and it was time to get ice cream and head home.

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Written by Michelle at 7:51 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Canaan Valley State Park

I’ve hiked this trail several times before, and will do so many times again. It’s a very short trail, with little elevation change, yet you go through several different types of habitat.

It’s a beautiful hike, perfect for kids, and one I highly recommend.

Location: Canaan Valley State Park
Trail: Blackwater River Trail
Distance: 0.9 miles
Elevation: 3158-3334 feet

OK, this is actually not along the Blackwater River trail, but the beaver pond is on the way to the trail.

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The Blackwater River, meandering through Canaan Valley

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Written by Michelle at 7:45 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Blackwater Canyon Rim

This was not a true hike, because we had difficulty getting there (you can’t enter trail head into the GPS, then we both misread what the road sign was saying) so we ended up wandering briefly around both ends of the Canyon Rim Trail, as well as climbing up Olsen Lookout Tower.

Location: Backbone Mountain, Monongahela National Forest
Trail: Blackwater Canyon Rim Trail
Elevation: 3200-3785

I did climb Olsen Lookout Tower, but since this is me, I was very slow and careful and did not stumble or fall once!

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The view from the tower. We had two separate 360 views this weekend. Pretty impressive.

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On the other side of the trail, we found this lovely waterfall.

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We will hike this entire trail eventually.

Written by Michelle at 7:36 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Dolly Sods

After hiking to Chimney Top, we weren’t up for much more of a hike, so we headed across the valley to Dolly Sods.

And I do mean directly across the valley.

That’s the North Fork Mountain Range:

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A closer look–you can see Chimney Top.

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But of course the reason we went was because it’s full-on fall at Dolly Sods right now.

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I love the beauty of my state so very much.

Written by Michelle at 5:04 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Chimney Top

One of the places I found that I wanted to hike was on the North Fork Mountain, up to Chimney Top. In a long weekend of stunning views, this was the best of the lot. Which is good, because it is a long, steep hike, so you deserve the reward when you reach the top.

The trail to Chimney Top is off the North Fork Mountain Trail and marked by two large rock cairns. Along the trail there are views of the west side of Dolly Sods, but if you struggle all the way up to Chimney Top, and the climb onto the rocks (I was hesitant initially but it was worth it) you have a natural 360 view.

It is stunning.

Location: North Fork Mountain
Trail: North Fork Mountain Trail
Distance: 5.2 miles (only to Chimney top & back)
Elevation: 1130-3180 feet (2063 feet)
Grade: 15.4% (avg)
Temperature: 74-80 F

Here is a 180 view facing the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

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Here is a view facing north and west.

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Facing south.

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There were several scrub pine that kept me from getting a shot I liked facing west, but it was still beautiful.

This is the view I had after reaching the top of the trail and collapsing in the nearest shade where I drank water and considered taking a brief nap.

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The rocks themselves are fascinating.

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It was stunning and beautiful and I highly recommend the hike–although bring extra water, because it is STEEP.

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This hike is nor for everyone, but if you think you can manage 2 1/2 miles straight up the mountainside, I do recommend it for the view.

Written by Michelle at 4:52 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Traveling WV: Harmon Rocks

One of the things I wanted to do these trips was to visit some places we hadn’t before. We were focused for awhile on visiting all the state parks & forests, so we hadn’t explored as much of the national forests as I’d have liked. We’ve started remedying that.

Harmon rocks are located just outside the Monongahela National Forest, with no signs and up a very steep and rocky gravel road. (Other vehicles could drive it, our Corolla? Not so much.) In fact we were initially unsure we were in the right place, but parked next two a truck with two gentleman and two hound dogs who had been out hunting bear all day, and they told us the rocks were straight up the hill (the road was, of course, all switchbacks). One gentleman didn’t seem convinced when we said we were good with walking up the hill, but it was less than a mile, and I said we’d already hiked up Seneca Rocks that day, so we’d be fine.

Which we were. Although a little out of breath at the top.

Location: Harmon Rocks
Distance: 1.6 miles (out and back from road)
Elevation: 3527-4151 feet (624 feet climb)
Grade: 18%

The view was well worth the slog up to the top.

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There is a trail of sorts there. But it’s more like a rough path hacked out of the rhododendron and mountain laurel. I don’t really recommend it.

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The view was marvelous.

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I’m not sure I’d want to make the hike up there again, but it really was well-worth the visit.

Written by Michelle at 1:13 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Spruce Knob

This was more of a short wander than a hike, but the colors were better from Spruce Knob.

Also, it was warmer than I have ever known it to be at Spruce Knob. I normally wear multiple layers, and last visit, at the end of May, I was wearing gloves to be more comfortable. Saturday it was in the lower seventies.

Location: Spruce Knob
Trail: Whispering Spruce Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles
Elevation: 4865-4935 feet
Temperature: 72 F

You can see the color change moving down the mountainside here.

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And here, some beautiful color.

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You really can see quite far from the highest point in WV.

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A beautiful walk.

Written by Michelle at 12:57 pm      Comments (1)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Seneca Rocks

We decided a long weekend was in order, to enjoy the clear skies and the color changes in the Monongahela Forest.

It was far warmer than it should have been, and the color change in this area wasn’t much, but it was still a beautiful hike.

Location: Seneca Rocks
Trail: Seneca Rocks Trail
Distance: 3.6 miles
Elevation: 1670-2503 feet (829 ft elevation)
Grade: 9.7%
Temperature: 74-80

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Written by Michelle at 9:57 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  
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