Wild, West Virginia

This weekend we rented a cabin at Bluestone State Park in West Virginia.  Having been charmed by the little town of Hinton nearby, we decided to give the area a try.  We were not disappointed.

The first day we hiked at the state park which proved to be quite an adventure.  This time of year can be challenging due to the leaves covering the trail (which may hide things like rocks and tree roots).  But after stumbling a few times, you learn to pick up your feet.  We took the Rhododendron Trail to the Lake Trail crossing a rather dry creek bed.

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After enjoying the view of the lake

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we had two options.  We could walk up the road and catch the Lake Trail, or we could try a short cut that involved climbing up a steep, slippery hill.  Guess which one we chose?

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You can’t fully appreciate how steep this was.  But JG went first to see if it was “doable.”  He barely made it to the top after sliding and banging up his legs a little.  He told me he was NOT coming back down that hill, but he was also worried that I couldn’t make it up.  His suggestion was that I take the road and we meet somewhere on the Lake Trail.  I quickly nixed that idea and gave it my best shot.  The advantage of not going first, is that the lead person has time to scout alternate routes from up above, which we found, just a few steps down from where this was shot.  With the help of a tree, and JG’s hiking stick, we managed to get me on top of the hill.  By the time we returned to our cabin, we were happily exhausted from the 4 mile adventure.

The next day we decided to go toward the New River Gorge and see if we could find a good hike.  We stopped at the Sandstone Visitor Center located at the southern entrance to the Gorge.  What an amazing facility! It’s sustainable (green) design concepts for energy efficiency, also features a floor map of the New River watershed.

The Park Ranger on duty directed us to a hike featuring two of the best vistas available, starting at Grandview (appropriately named).  The 3 mile round trip starts out as an easy hike, but just before you get to the end there are some steep ups and downs and a number of steps.  Of course you can also drive to both of them, so there were quite a few people at the lookouts, but hardly anyone on the trail.

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It was breathtaking!

Back at the park, we kept running into this little guy who was nice enough to pose for me.

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Sunday, as we were leaving the park, we decided to drive around Pipestem Resort which was only 7 miles up the road.  We had stayed at Pipestem many years ago, so we just wanted to check it out again.  We arrived as the fog was layered across the canyon.

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All in all, an excellent weekend getaway!

 

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GOAL!!

It may have taken all summer, but yesterday we achieved our goal of hiking the entire (57.7 miles) New River Trail!

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Some people can bike it in a day, some can hike it in a day or two, but for a couple of seniors – one with a bum knee and one with a bum shoulder – we were pretty proud to have accomplished this goal.  And to make it even better, the weather yesterday was outstanding!  75 degrees, sunshine, low humidity, who could ask for more?

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The final leg took us to the trail end (or beginning, depending on where you live) in Galax, VA at mile marker 51.

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Now that we have hiked the entire trail, we both agreed that our favorite stretch was from the junction where the trail splits off, to either Galax or Fries.  Both had the closest proximity to the river and offered some of these splendid sites.

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Today’s trip was about 10 miles.  Adding to the challenge, I woke up with knee issues and had to wear my knee brace. We discovered that when you know you are going to walk a certain distance, your mind doesn’t let you get tired until you know you are close to the end.  Whether it is 5 miles, 10 miles or more, your body adapts to what the mind tells it. So the aches and pains didn’t become noticeable until we were about 2 miles from the end.

However, we were treated to a wonderful surprise that made us forget those issues for a moment.  We could hear rushing water up ahead and were delighted to discover this stunning waterfall!

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In order to get the perfect shot – JG walked down a path and climbed on a couple of rocks.

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Being a holiday weekend, the trail was filled with bikers – making it a little noisier than what we’ve been used to; since we normally go early on Sunday mornings.  But we were happy to see the trail being enjoyed by college students and families and plenty of seniors like us.

A quick summary of this trail.  Our favorite restaurant on the trail is located inside the Draper Mercantile – The Blue Door Cafe.  The service is not always the best, but the food is usually worth the wait.  The bike shop next door is a great stop too if you are a hiker or a biker.

Even though we may have found the last portion the most picturesque, the leg from Pulaski to Draper offers some interesting sites like the Ghost Train.

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Each section had its own uniqueness and there were just a couple of spots that we thought were a little boring.

However,

Three tunnels and many bridges, lots of nature, enjoying the flow of the river, the peacefulness of hiking early morning, being outdoors with your favorite hiking partner, and going 57.7 miles and only seeing one snake? Priceless!!

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Such a wonderful resource, please come enjoy it with me sometime!

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