|The Hiking Group|
|Ginger: Pack Dog Extraordinaire|
The Dolly Sods Wilderness has a unique environment for the area. People describe it as something that would typically be found in southern Canada instead of West Virginia. There are lots of bogs and heath and when you come to a meadow, the views are very nice of the surrounding mountains.
The hike wasn't too bad at all. Just a little slow, but we weren't in any hurry, so we made our way down the trail towards the creeks. As we were crossing one of the high meadows, I had a feeling that I would make a find. I looked in the low growth and there they were. The smallest blueberries I have ever seen, but they were tasty and the short break to pick some was a welcome respite.
We all dropped our packs and Ginger and I headed down the trail to check out the other campsites. After surveying a few, I knew the first one would suit us just fine. The quest for wood began here.
We set up camp and made our dinners after finding enough wood in the area to make a decent fire. Dinner was hot dogs cooked over the fire. We hadn't had more than a couple sprinkles during the hike, but you could tell the area had had some rain recently. Everything was damp and getting the fire started and the wood dried was a constant effort, but we were successful.
|Our Camp View|
|Lisa disinfecting water|
After my usual first night of dozing, waking, tossing and turning, I got up shortly after daylight around 7 am. Today we planned to day hike to a place called the Lion's Head. It was a rock outcropping that looked like a majestic lion looking out over the mountains. My quick calculations said it was a little over two miles to the area, but I didn't know where the side trail went off the main trail and I also didn't know how rocky this trail would be. I guess when the trail's name is Rocky Point, I should had at least had an inkling of an idea.
We left the tents and sleeping bags and brought our half empty packs. I didn't want to head up with nothing at all, so I brought food, some extra clothing, fire kit, first aid, water and an emergency shelter. You know, the basics.
The hike started out pretty nice. As we came to the creek crossing, we came upon a group of backpackers. They were a freshman orientation group from a college in Ohio. We had some nice conversation, then crossed the creek and headed up the trail. The trail was pretty nice here and I made the comment that it was so nice, thus dooming us to something not so nice up the trail.
Before long we passed another group. This one an actual college class in back country hiking and plant identification. They were from a small college in Garrett County, MD and looked to be having a good time.
Well, the trail continued on and started to get a might rocky. I don't think we touched dirt for the last half mile or so. It kept going up, but not too steep. That is, not until the last trail that took us to the Lion's den itself. Some of it was rock scramble and a little challenging, but we made it. Later I would find that the hike was more like three miles, but we would survive the six miles of rocks, heat and elevation with no problems.
|West Virginia, Mountain Momma|
|The Lion's Head|
|My accomplishment pose|
|Alex on the rocks|
|Shauni and Ginger on the rocks|
Soon it was time to head back to camp. The hike back was more downhill than up, but it seemed to take quite a while to get back. We gathered wood as we returned as the areas that no one camps near are full of good wood. I carried a stack of sticks for most of the trip back, but even though I realized we had a long way to go, after carrying those sticks for a half mile or so, I wasn't going to drop them until I was dropping them at the fire ring.
We had plenty of wood for this night's fire and we got it going and made our dinners again. Oh, there was a short nap time in there too after our six mile trek of the day. I was feeling tired and uncomfortable sitting on the rock chairs after dinner, so I decided to go read in my hammock for a while, which turned into another nap. I got up as darkness fell to get the bear bags up, but the others had already accomplished that feat after some keystone cop antics which would have been fun to watch. But they got them up and away from any critters that would want to snack on our premium backpacking food.
Morning came once again and we all got started stirring around 0800 and finally hit the trail just before 10 am. The hike out was a reverse of the first day, starting with the rocky climb out of the valley. There was even a little sprinkles later in the hike as we made our way out of the wilderness and back to our truck and eventually civilization.
After driving out of the mountains and hitting the Sheetz (our new favorite place to stop on road trips) near Cumberland, we continued on home and ended another successful stint of being Outsiders.
I had a great time and always feel the most comfortable out in the woods, with a nice fire burning and the promise of floating on air with my hammock set up beside me. Ginger seems to really love being out there with us. I can't wait to see what our next adventure will be.
|Last break at last stream crossing...|