Monday, May 22, 2017

Winter and Spring 2017

2017 started with a microadventure and many more have been had since...

Canaan Valley & Blackwater Falls 
It's now an established tradition for me to camp on New Year's Eve and start the year off right. Michelle and I battled snowy roads, arming ourselves with chains in order to crawl into Canaan Valley State Park for the holiday. The campground there might be the only one in the state open and maintained through the winter. While the weather made for poor driving, it made for a picturesque setting for Michelle's first time on snowshoes.  

Canaan Valley State Park
Blackwater Falls

Elakala Creek, Blackwater Falls State Park

New River Gorge
I took advantage of some unseasonably warm weather in late January to surprise Michelle by asking her to marry me atop the Pinnacle in the New River Gorge. I dropped the box over 100 feet but fortunately the ring was already safe on her finger by then! 

Point Pleasant
Michelle and I spent a day exploring the juncture of the Kanawha and Ohio Rivers, dubbed a "pleasant point" by none other than surveyor George Washington. Point Pleasant is better known these days for the legendary "Mothman". Armed with information from his latest sightings we explored the remains of his supposed lair! 

Mothman statue, downtown Point Pleasant

The Mothman was most often sighted at an abandoned TNT factory outside of town. These storage bunkers are all that remain of the original factory.

Gauley River & Carnifex Ferry
On a tip from a friend, we ventured into unexplored territory (for us) along the Gauley River. While the Gauely is normally associated with world-class whitewater, there is tamer adventure to be had along the bank and we were treated to a nice riverside hike along an old railroad bed. The highlight of the trip was an wooden tressle that led into an abandoned tunnel over a half mile long!

On the way home we detoured over to Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park, the sight of a skirmish in 1861 and one of the many stops along the West Virginia Civil War Trail.

Sunken road, Carnifex Ferry Battlefield State Park

Anthony Creek Packraft
During my spring break from WVU I ventured into the Big Draft Wilderness area in the very southern portion of the Monongahela National Forest. I hiked in my packrafting setup with my overnight gear and in a rare reversal, hoped for a night of steady rain as I made camp. In the morning I inflated my raft for the 5 mile paddle back to my truck. It hadn't rained as much as I had hoped for - making Anthony Creek a bit scrapey in places - but it was an enjoyable trip nonetheless. It marked my first true packrafting adventure in West Virginia and hopefully the first of many more to come. 

Covered Bridge Scenic Byway
Michelle and I were joined for the weekend by my friends Phil and Andi out from Seattle. The Covered Bridge Scenic Byway winds thru Ohio's Wayne National Forest. The Byway travels along the Little Muskingum River for much of its length before ending in historic Marietta along the banks of the mighty Ohio River. 

Downtown Marietta, Ohio

Watoga & Greenbrier River Trail
Using Watoga State Park as a basecamp for a weekend getaway in April, Michelle and I explored the surrounding area with my folks. We pedaled along the Greenbrier River Trail, over the 1925 Watoga Bridge and past the abandoned logging town of Watoga. We also enjoyed side trips into Marlinton, Droop Mountain and Beartown as well as a leisurely 5 mile float trip on the Greenbrier and some foraged ramps with dinner. 

A vault from a bank or company store is mostly all that's left of Old Watoga Town. 

Train depot, Marlinton WV

Beartown State Park

Turkey Hunting
After two years of hunting, I had yet to even see a turkey in the woods during the season. Apparently the turkey gods took pity on me and decided that I had put enough time in, for this year I was fortunate to harvest a turkey on my first morning out! Dad helped me call it in and it will always be a great memory knowing that I got my first turkey with him. 

Highland Scenic Highway
I helped lead some outings hosted by the WV Rivers Coalition as part of our "Best of Birthplace" weekend designed to connect people to West Virginia's public lands. Our trip toured along the Highland Scenic Highway as we explored gushing waterfalls and misty spruce forests. We were treated to a rare encounter with a blue crayfish! 

Red Spruce Knob Trail

Painted trillium

Monongahela burrowing crayfish

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