West Virginia 2022

This page is my blog about my visit to West Virginia where Norma, Daphne, Mark, Allison, and Viviana did various outdoor activities and spent a weekend at the Laurel River Club Bed and Breakfast.

The photo above is from our July 17, 2022 hike at Seneca Rocks.

 Friday, July 15, 2022

Dolly Sods - Red CreekOpen accordion icon
There was a good bit of road construction taking place in West Virginia so it took us longer than expected to reach our destination at Red Creek, Dolly Sods Wilderness, Monongahela National Forest. We hadn't been there for awhile and I had forgotten just how far we had to drive on dirt roads. Quite a dusty ride.

The place was packed with lots of other hikers. Many were out for an overnight stay but we were just doing a simple day hike. Mark, Allison, and Viviana met us at the trailhead and led us on a nice out and back route that they found online. At one point it was supposed to be a lollipop route but we never found the loop.

It was somewhat sunny with a spattering of clouds. The trail was hard dirt and rocks lined by lush greenery.
Viviana and Allison

There were blueberries and huckleberries all over the place, ripe for eating. I preferred the latter. Below are blueberries.

Large ant mounds protruded from the fern-lined landscape.
Ant mound

We crossed the clean flowing Red Creek or Left Ford Red Creek, not sure which.
Mark doing a stream crossing

It was a lovely 7.2 mile hike with only 977 feet of total ascent.
Close accordion icon

Laurel River Club Bed and BreakfastOpen accordion icon
We checked into the Laurel River Club Bed and Breakfast (B & B). This is a beautiful working farm in a valley that is far off the beaten path...too far to have internet service. The place was build in an old logging town that was destroyed by a flood. Only the farmhouse remained.

Mark, Allison, and Viviana stayed in one of the rooms in the house. But since they didn't allow pets, Norma, Daphne, and I stayed in what they called their Stargazing Glamping Dome. I called it "the igloo." It is a geodesic dome home made by Pacific Domes.
Norma standing on the deck next to the igloo

I was very impressed by the igloo. It is made of what appears to be a very heavy vinyl tarp over a rigid aluminum frame. It was easily big enough to accommodate the three of us. It had a wood burning stove. No electricity. During the day, it got hot but it cooled off comfortably at night.
Inside the igloo

The igloo was build on a large wooden deck in a hay field. A short distance away was an extremely cramped outhouse. There was no shower. The owners said we couldn't use the one in the house because if they allowed us to use it, they might run out of water for the other guests. That was a bit of a disappointment. Fortunately, they had a very nice stream on their property where we could rinse off.

After getting cleaned up, the six of us went out to dinner. We ate outside at the Wicked Wilderness Pub in Davis.

Back at the igloo, it rained a little during the night.
Close accordion icon

 Saturday, July 16, 2022

Exploring the farmOpen accordion icon
We got a nice tour of the farm from the youngest child in the family who I think was about nine years old. They have numerous chickens.
Dozens of chickens

There was also a beautiful Rhode Island Red rooster.
Rhode Island Red rooster

A beekeeper maintains several hives on the farm.
About 30 beehives

This is a great place to go and relax.
Daphne and Norma on a bench

The family that owns the B & B are extremely entrepreneurial. The husband/father is a very handy fellow. He was putting together a huge greenhouse with a roof that opens up for air circulation.
Big greenhouse

In addition to chickens, they have cows and pigs.

I found some interesting bugs.
1 / 2
Green-eyed cicada
Green-eyed cicada.
Close accordion icon

Canaan Valley National Wildlife RefugeOpen accordion icon
We drove out to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge - Visitor Center and walked on the short trails just behind the building. It was pretty cloudy and not the best conditions for taking pictures.

Next, we took a short drive to the Freeland Trail. Norma and I were here on November 6, 2021 with her family but since dogs aren't allowed here, I let Norma walk on the trail (actually a boardwalk) while I took Daphne for a walk along the road. But today was my turn to walk on the boardwalk while Norma took Daphne.

Mark, Allison, Viviana, and I saw bush honeysuckle and cedar-quince rust (below).
Cedar-quince rust on host
Close accordion icon

ThomasOpen accordion icon
The six of us drove out to Thomas, the home of the Purple Fiddle.

We found an outdoor food stand where we had tacos for lunch. Sitting next to the main street, we watched the motorcyclists, rednecks, and hippies pass by. Quite a diverse crowd.

I stayed with Daphne outside as Norma visited various shops. I met a very interesting military doctor by the name of Tom that I spoke to for quite awhile.

Norma, Daphne, and I took a short walk on the Blackwater Canyon Trail which runs along the east side of the North Fork of the Blackwater River.
Dam at North Fork of the Blackwater River

We saw various wildflowers along the edge of the trail to include something of the genus Securigera.
Pink and white flower of the genus Securigera
Close accordion icon

RaptorsOpen accordion icon
Back at the farm, I went for a swim in the creek. The deepest part was about seven feet. I saw lots of fish.

The owner's son, Collin, showed us some of his raptors. He is a falconeer.
1 / 3
Red-tailed hawk
Red-tailed hawk.
2 / 3
Barred owl
Barred owl.
3 / 3
Harris's hawk
Harris's hawk.

I had never seen a Harris's hawk. This is the first raptor that I've ever heard of that hunts in packs.
No other bird of prey is known to hunt in groups as routinely as this species.
- from Wikipedia - Harris's Hawk

Harris's Hawks are highly social raptors, often found in groups with complex social hierarchies that engage in cooperative hunting and breeding. Groups can consist of up to seven individuals, including both related and unrelated adults of different ages. These birds may help a monogamous breeding couple, or the group may include multiple breeders. These gregarious hawks employ some of the most sophisticated cooperative hunting strategies known in birds, and they feed according to dominance hierarchies within the group.
- from All About Birds - Harris's Hawk

I found Collin very interesting and enjoyed talking to him.

We had a lasagna dinner out on the porch and then played board games.

Norma and I drove back to our igloo. A young cow (old calf) stood in our path with its back side facing us. It was dark and we drove around it. As my vehicle got alongside it, it kicked my passenger door and then ran off. We think it was sleeping and then we woke it up. Everything worked fine on my car after the cow mule-kicked it so I wasn't too concerned. It was 14 years old...my car, not the cow. Had Chuck Norris kicked my car, I'm sure it would have been totaled.
Dent in my passenger door from being kicked by a cow
Close accordion icon

 Sunday, July 17, 2022

Farm farewellOpen accordion icon
On our last morning at the farm, we awoke to a nice fog hanging in the valley.
Fog in valley

We ate a nice farm-cooked breakfast and then bid our farewells. A mayfly came out to say good-bye.

Norma, Daphne, and I were on our own now.
Close accordion icon

Seneca RocksOpen accordion icon
The three of us drove to Seneca Rocks in Monongahela National Forest for a hike. It was hot and extremely humid. I don't think the sun ever came out. For as hot as it was there, I knew it was much cooler than it was back home.

We crossed over the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River and then commenced a fairly easy but nearly constant climb up to the overlook. Along the way, we saw various plants to include poison ivy and Virginia creeper.
1 / 3
2 / 3
A leaf damaged by leaf miners
Damage from leaf miners.
3 / 3

We also saw some mushrooms.
Red mushroom

We saw some very unusual-looking rocks. I could only speculate what caused them to look the way they do.
1 / 3
Could these be fossils?
2 / 3
Looks like small stones left their impression
3 / 3
I'm guessing bubbles formed in this rock

It took some work but we finally reached out destination. On a clear day, the view would have been spectacular but it was very humid and hazy so things were just mediocre.
Hazy view from Seneca Rocks

We didn't stick around long because we were just a few of many hikers.

Our hike was a mere 3.8 miles with about 900 feet in elevation gain.

Daphne wasn't allowed in the nearby Seneca Rocks Discovery Center so Norma and I took turns going inside.
Close accordion icon

ScoutingOpen accordion icon
Not in any rush to get home, we did a little exploring. We stopped at the South Branch River, Fisher Bridge South in Hardy County, West Virginia. Here, one can launch a boat, but the water was so low, it wouldn't have been worth it. Maybe in the spring. The place looked scenic, peaceful, and natural. Studying satellite photos, it seems like the river maintains a fairly consistent width for quite a ways upstream and downstream of this location.

Looking in the water, I was hoping to find a hellbender but did not. I have never seen a hellbender. It is on my bucket list of animals to see in the wild.

Not too far from the launch site, we saw Breezewood Adventures, an outfitter. I don't know where to paddle in the area but if that was my goal, I'd probably seek the expertise of an outfitter. So I'll try to keep these guys in mind should I return to the area and want to get in some time on the water. Just the fact that there is an outfitter so near tells me the kayaking out here might be nice.
Close accordion icon

View from Seneca Rocks
View from Seneca Rocks