Thursday, June 25, 2015

WV - the rest of the story

Fourth and last breakfast here. We are on the back porch and have a nice chat with other guests. I think that is the niceness of a B+B. So much more social then a hotel.



After breakfast I can take a picture of Geri and Ed with James. We had such a good time there at the Breath of Heaven.



Some more pictures. It was really more a suite than a room.






The entrance to it.



Ready to leave. And just so that we are not sad it starts raining. The weather for our little mini trip had been just perfect. Not too hot but not too cold. The rain/thunderstorms did not interfere with anything. In hind-site though it might have been the reason that it was so muddy yesterday and we had to wade through the stream. But it had been such an adventure! I still haven't come down from my cloud.



Flowers at a rest stop. Pretty.



Yes, that's the rest of the story. Easy drive home. The muddy things are washed and the socks are still usable. And oh, no blisters either. Silk sock liners are great.


WV - third hike

A delicious breakfast again. Well fed we head out and stop at the ranger station again.

After two strong hikes we look for something different, may be gently rolling along? We head to Spruce Knob which, as you can see on the sign, is the highest point in West Virginia.

The view was worth the about one hour drive. Don't know how to capture it so here is a VIDEO!

Then we walk the Whispering Spruce Trail which was sometimes written up as 0.6 miles or half-a-mile. Whatever, it was very nice and peaceful. The pictures really can't show everything like the smell of the forest floor.

Aahh, feeling close to heaven. So beautiful! Always liked heights. Trying to capture it in a VIDEO.

Continue the trail.

Well, this really wasn't much if a hike so what to do now?
Back at the car we meet the "chainsaw" mentioned in the video. It was actually a very nice park employe with a weedeater. We asked him a little about the roads and trails in the area.
We decide to drive to the Allegheny Mountain Trailhead. In the ranger flyer it says that the trail (TR 532) follows the ridge through hardwood forests and several small clearings. Length: 12.8 miles ... but we decide to walk as long as we want to and then go back.
On the road there we have to drive quite slow because there are a lot of potholes and then this family. The last chick took its time and mommy waited.

The trail was lovely. It went very gently uphill which made me very hopeful that the return (when I was tired) would be easier. It might as well have been one of the old logging roads at one time.

It was a bit muddy in places since we had those thunderstorms with heavy rains the afternoon and night before.
And plenty of "cute" things to see. This is my last mushroom photo though.

Did you think it was this tiny in the above picture?

After about 2.5 miles (wild guess) we came to a branching trail: North Prong Trail (TR 528). The description: ... follows the North Prong of Big Run connecting Allegheny Mt Trail to Big Run Trail. Open meadows and beaver ponds are found along the way. Length: 2.8 miles
Big Run Trail (TR 527) ... follows on what's left of a turn-of-the-century logging railroad grade. The trail climbs gradually up Allegheny Mt and ends at the parking lot for that trailhead. Since we meet that trail in the middle we think it might be a mile and a half. It sounds great and not to difficult. What did we know?
The first part went very gently up and then downhill and was so nice. We could see that a horse had gone this way and actually followed it a long time.
Then the scenery changed. We could not see beaver ponds but there was this huge meadow and we could hear the water gurgle. VIDEO!

We went along the edge of this for quite a while. Waist-high grasses made it sometimes difficult to see where it was very wet but for a while we still could see that the horse had gone here.
Then the scenery changed again. Forest and a lively stream.

If the grasses were a challenge, it got difficult now. The trail stopped at the stream and we could see it continue at the other side. Easy for the horse! We studied the landscape and decided to find our own way between the trees because the trail was coming back to our side.

We were right, successful and high-fived!
But that didn't last long. Soon we came again to another stream crossing. We decided that this was going to be the way and just walked through it. Again and again and again. Probably a dozen times.

Finally we came to the end of TR 528 and connected with TR 527. We were sure that the old railroad bed would be comfortably wide and railroads usually don't climb very steeply. We can only wonder what that railroad might have been. Lots of times we had to walk through swampy waist-high grasses/reeds or steep very narrow ways along the forest edge. Once I sank so deep with my foot into the mud that I was afraid for a moment I could get it or my shoe out again.
The strange thing is ... I totally enjoyed it. I even didn't mind when I fell flat on my face once because of a hidden root in the mud. I wasn't worried about creatures or ticks or chiggers or poison ivy ... and nothing bad happened. A few slight scratches from the blackberry patches we had to go through. The last part was very very hard for me though. Steep up and the 4,000 ft altitude are always getting to me. James was so patient and supportive!!!
When we questioned whether we were still on the right way we usually Soon saw a blue trail marker. That was comforting. There had been no explanation about the blue signs but we hoped we were right what they meant.

Of course our phones had no service but my pedometer gave me this picture which showed clearly that we were getting back to where we had started.

The last bit was the most difficult but then suddenly I saw something red, our car! Yeah!!!

It took a while to drive down the mountain but at the bottom was a country-style restaurant which surely wouldn't mind that we were slightly muddy.

We didn't have lunch so this was early supper. James had liver and onions. Doesn't get that often.

I had a slightly breaded mountain trout.

All was simple but very delicious. We went back to the B+B, packed the muddy things in a plastic bag for treatment at home and had showers. We had a beer each on the back porch. I managed to get one Chrismon crown done which I gave to Geri. She know what it was and said her church decorated the tree with Chrismons too. I think she was happy about it. Geri and Ed were very busy because they had a very full house.
Too tired to do anything else. No stitching. I am afraid that I need to finish that project at home. I think the main reason why I couldn't work on anything was because I was so happy. Three hikes and every day a little harder (not necessary planned that way but it happened). I am so happy that I could do it and enjoyed it. It might be nothing for some but a big accomplishment for me.

WV - second hike

Tuesday. What a day! After a lovely breakfast at the B+B we headed out again. First to the ranger station to get info. Seneca Rock is going to be it today. We are told there is a visitor center and we are heading there. A young lady tells us from the parking lot go down steps, over another parking lot, over a bridge and that is the trail to Seneca Rock Overlook. Great. We go back to the car to get our hiking shoes, backpacks and poles and then find everything as she says.

This picture doesn't really show the beauty. It is so quiet except for the birds and the little steam is making a lively sound too.



We go gently steadily uphill until we come to this. No info. James thinks it is a shortcut of the switchbacks we were told about. So he goes there. I look at it and say "I don't think so for me" and continue on the gravel road.



Oops, in the middle of the road? Don't really want to go past it's head but thanks to one of my poles I find out that it is dead.



After a while my road comes to ... a dead end! Stop Privat Property? I must be wrong. O.k. I track back. Beauties on the way.



So I guess James was right and this is the trail after all. And I start on it. After 200 or 300 feet I decide I can't (or don't want to) do it. Straight up on loose rocks? From James' experience 3 days out of Seville last year I know that going down is even more dangerous then going up. I am very slow ... and very careful.

Back down I sit on the bottom rock and have a little cry (and prayer). What to do now? Of course there is never any cell phone service in these mountains. I gather myself and decide to trace a bit more back. Not far I see 3 humans come over the stream off another part of the trail with the blue trail markers. I ask them whether they might have seen James (no) but after asking I get the good info that this trail goes to the overlook too, he doesn't have to come down the same way (which makes me feel so much better ... Thank you, Lord) and it is not the right trail we wanted. They tell me where to go and off I went.



This is a picture James took and shared later! See the blue marker in the middle in the very back?



I had lost a lot of time and wondered what James was doing. I hiked steadily up but it takes time especially in this altitude. A young couple overtakes me and I ask them if they see a tall Englishman with a Tilley hat up on top to please tell him to stay there and that he was in trouble (wink wink).

After some time (and I was almost there) I meet a family coming down all cheerfully asking whether I was the wife. Wonderful news. We all laugh and go on our ways.

And then there he is coming down. The couple which had overtaken me had told him that I was in trouble so he was even more worried what happened to me. What an adventure. My face in the photo is like that because I still have trouble taking selfies.



I really want to go all the way and James doesn't mind. And there we are!





It is a gorgeous view. We can see our parked car to the left and people standing fishing in the Potomac River.






I am learning a lot on these hikes. Trying out shoe laces. The left shoe still has the one it came with. The right one is one we bought extra. James used those on the Camino and likes them very much. He volunteered to put the other one in tonight because I do too.



Going down we see this (live) snake and of course stopped to look a little. A huge boyscout troop was coming up in bunches so some of them got the benefit of what we were seeing too.



Going down was so much easier. It really is a lovely trail. We meet several families with children of all ages. We met a number of flip-flops! No way!





Of course we ended differently than we had started. Here is a good look at Seneca Rock.



We actually had to go through the visitor center to get to our car so we talked to the young lady again. She didn't know that there were parking lots and steps and bridges on either side. She was "only" an intern for the summer. We suggested that the place where we had to turn off (and missed it) really needed a sign. It would be interesting to know whether that will happen.

On the other hand, this gave me more hiking experience and we did have an adventures wonderful day. The first map is mine, the second is James. For some reason I had to turn mine upside-down so it's easier to compare. Mine counts the steps so the mileage is not true (should be more) but of course it doesn't matter.




Of course it was way past lunchtime so we decided to pop into the Chinese place (really looking for another place but couldn't find it). It was a buffet and quite nice. Then we stopped at Subways for a footlong we put into the fridge in our room to share for dinner so we didn't have to go out any more. Crashing in our room with a beer after our showers sounded good.

Early in the morning we were told to expect heavy thunderstorms at 4 pm. Guess what happened when we sat on our hosts' back porch at 4? It was very cozy.



I managed later to write the blog of hike 1 and do a little stitching again. But not much. Sleep was calling.