Sunday, April 26, 2015

Snowshoe WV Sunday

Sunday morning the 26th was a bit of a groggy affair for me after a really late night at the restaurant with a lot of business and a lot more work to get the place tidied up for a week off. It really was hard to get moving that morning. Even looking forward to driving down to see our friends Mark and Kelley at Snowshoe Resort and a big cup of coffee were having a hard time getting me motivated.

Road Food
But motivated both Ann and I gradually got, aiming for a noon start to our big adventure. I had been studying routes to Snowshoe from Winchester (there are a dozen or more ways) and it's a good thing too because little did I yet know that the GPS in the car had crapped out. What was clear from all the routes is there aren't many opportunities for food between here and there. Ann had wanted to stop some place for lunch along the way, but I don't think she realized how slim the pickings are.

Depending on how you count, Snowshoe is two or three ridgelines west of us and a couple hours south in the middle of Pocahontas County, WV. You have to go through the middle of nowhere to get there, no matter which route you take. And middle of nowhere translates to not much in the way of food, so I made some ham, salame, and provolone sandwiches for the trip there. I have to say that I make a pretty awesome sandwich and each time that I do, I wonder why we do not have a great sandwich shop in Winchester.

First Aid Supplies, in Case of Emergency
Both dogs were on edge all morning because they could tell that something out of the ordinary was happening. As we started to gather our things, including the dog beds, into a pile, Grace made sure that she was not too far away from the pile. And when I started loading the car, she bulled her way past me and into the car, making damned certain that she was not getting left behind. That dog loves and adventure. Charlie, not so much. He barfed three times on the way to Snowshoe, not a pleasant thing for any of us.

"You Are NOT Leaving Without Me!"
Mark has pretty good navigational skills and he had sent us an email with a suggested route which I decided to follow. It had us heading out 55W in our own county and heading up and over North Mountain and down into Wardensville WV where we picked up Corridor H and followed it to just west of Moorefield where we cut south coming in just west of Petersburg, missing the traffic in both those towns.

Seneca Rocks
From Petersburg, we jogged west along the Potomac River through Cabins WV and through Spruce Knob-Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, a part of the larger Monongahela National Forest. Cabins appears to be named for the seemingly endless collection of cabins on both sides of the highway as it winds along with the river; the primary attraction would seem to be fly fishing for trout in the Potomac. Dominating the landscape is Spruce Knob, impressively high for the East, being the tallest peak in both WV and in the Allegheny Mountains and only 15 feet higher than Snowshoe Mountain that we would see up close and personal later in the trip. Seneca Rocks is equally impressive and we stopped to have a look at it from the valley floor by the river.

As we left the Potomac and started to climb, we went back in time a month. Where the floor along the River looked like spring with plenty of redbuds in bloom and the newly-mown grass flaunting its vibrant spring lime green, down towards Judy Gap where US 33 comes in from Harrisonburg to the east, we seemingly went back to the first of March. The grass on the sides of the road was still mainly brown with tufts of green here and there and the trees were absolutely bare of leaves and with no hint that the red buds were blooming down at lower elevation. It is just amazing to go through a month or more in time by climbing up a mountain.

Leaving Pendleton County, we headed south into Pocahontas County, our ultimate destination, heading from Bartow into Green Bank, the home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the heart of the National Radio Quiet Zone. There's only one AM station on the radio and cell signal is non-existent. This would set the stage for a great few days away from cell phones, Facebook, and TV. Significantly taller than the Statue of Liberty, the big 100-meter Green Bank Telescope is visible for many, many miles away. It must be huge up close.

Just south of Green Bank, we made the familiar turn onto 66 west and headed for the big switchback in Cass and the start of the climb up into Snowshoe. It's been a long time since I have been skiing at Snowshoe, but the route from this point on was extremely familiar.

The View at Mark and Kelley's Does not Suck
Much to the dogs' happiness, we arrived at 4 p.m. at Mark and Kelley's up on a big hill just west of Snowshoe. As soon as we arrived, Ann let the dogs run free and naturally, they immediately ran away. Grace came back on her own while Charlie led Mark and me on a wild goose chase. While I was bushwhacking up the mountainside looking for Charlie, I suddenly found myself in a large patch of ramps and blooming trout lilies. The ramp patch would prove to be a teaser for the vast acres of ramps we would see in a couple of days.

Ultimately Ann and Kelley found Charlie much closer to the house and Kelley drove out to find us. While working up the mountainside I saw her car on the switchback above and cut down through the woods to the road below to flag her down and find out that they had the dog. All reconvened back at the house, we sat on the front steps drinking wine and picking thorns out of Charlie's hide. The poor bastard tore himself up pretty good running through the brush. Grace seemed none the worse for wear.

Digging Ramps
While looking for Charlie, I had picked a ramp and while sitting on the porch enjoying the spring sunshine, I showed it to Ann. Somehow it was decided to have ramps and duck eggs for breakfast and so Mark and I wandered about 100 yards from the house and pulled a few more ramps for breakfast. All scratched up and tired from his big explore earlier, Charlie did not stray more than 15 feet from us.

Lots of Tadpoles in this Pond
I got a few moments to wander around the property which is nestled up against a mountain to the east and I took advantage of the beautiful weather to take some shots, including this one of the clouds reflecting off the little pond. As the sun was going down, we headed inside where the scents of the pot of chili that Kelley had made were starting to make us ravenous.

Annie Showing off her Bread
Just before dusk, we watched a lone hen turkey grazing in the back yard. In my experience, it is pretty unusual to see a lone hen unless she is with her poults. Given that it is just spring mating season, I am guessing that this hen is bred and is laying or just about to lay nearby.

Hen Turkey in the Yard
We made quick work of Kelley's delicious chili and then they broke us virgins in at Cards Against Humanity. It was a hilarious evening and we learned very quickly that you do not have food or wine in your mouth when playing. We went to bed not too late with the idea that we were going to get up in the morning and forage for morels.

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