Tiny Tour of the Mountain State

So it’s home again, home again, friggidy frog. (Or so our kids used to say.) And I won’t bore you with all–but only some–of the details.

As you can see from the image up top, my friend Steve and I did go where wise men fear to tread–at the almost-top of Seneca Rocks, stopping short of putting ourselves at so much risk we might become numbers 16 and 17.

The mile and a half climb pulled up a thousand feet–then add the height of the final spine where only the folks with ropes, helmets and on-call angels dare to tread.

We were chilly at the trailhead at 9am, warm and thankfully only slightly winded for the next two hours, and chilly again in the sun-with-wind up top. Highs each day of our trip were in the upper 50s or low 60s.

The trip also included a drive-by approach to Dolly Sods, a place I’ve heard of since the 70s but my old hiking buddy and I never got up that far, and neither did we, but almost.

Monday, we stayed in and around the Blackwater Falls area and had breakfast in Davis at the Bright Morning Inn and lunch at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas.

Pink Lady Slipper at Lindy Point, Blackwater Gorge

Monday afternoon, because I wanted to at least say I’d been to Elkins, we left the broad valleys, straight-ish roads and green of the national forest and returned to more urban-familiar traffic, strip malls and American commercialism–not that Elkins is not without charm.

We walked in the town park near the campus of Davis and Elkins College, and had a great dinner at C J Maggie’s in the heart of the old downtown. God help the old downtowns across this sad retail-bloated over-franchised country of ours.

I have some take-aways from this trip, and a long list of questions about the towns we passed through or near, the geology and hydrology of that part of WV and some thoughts about what comes next, having been away from blogging and other excessive busy-ness for the better part of a week.

And I’ll probably just cobble together a gallery with a few images and post that here sometime soon.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Coming from WV, I appreciate that you enjoyed your time there. I visited that part of the state back in the late 90’s and it is beautiful, especially the Blackwater Falls area, and Davis. Did you see the tiniest church in the U.S?

  2. That’s quite a warning sign! I’ve never seen anything like it on our trails in the West. I look forward to your observations and questions about small towns.