During the night, a couple of Robins got into a pissing contest about 11:30 and raised holy hell with each other for a couple of minutes. Other than that, no real animal noises until 4am until we were both awakened by a loud series of snorts. Ann, not really having spent many nights in the woods, asked what it was. "It's just a deer," I said and tried to go back to sleep. But the deer was still walking around very near the tent, crunching sticks with its hooves. So, we gave in and both got up to take a pee break. As soon as Ann put her headlight out the tent door, she saw the deer, a large doe, about ten feet away and seemingly unconcerned.
A few minutes later, after lots and lots of slurping and crunching noises, it was clear that the doe was visiting every spot that we had peed since we arrived and trying to lick up some salt. Special. Deer. Noises. In. The. Night. We finally got back to sleep, but by this time, I was getting pretty chilly. We brought small light down throws and sleeping bag liners instead of full-on sleeping bags, given that it was July. I wasn't using the bag liner and as it dropped into the upper 50s, I was getting chilly especially since I have to use the quilt on the diagonal as it isn't long enough for my 6'4" self. Still, I managed to doze off until about 6:45 in the morning.
When I got up, the first thing I saw was the doe that we had seen in the night, still milling about our campsite. She hung around all during breakfast, while we broke camp, and we finally saw the last of her as we stopped at a small creek to filter water on our way south down trail 513 when she trotted off into the woods.
|Our Nocturnal Visitor|
|Different Flora in Creek Bottom|
|Lots of Mushrooms|
|Rhododendron maximum, the WV State Flower|
|Falls on Stonecoal Creek|
|Photographing the Falls|
|A Blush R. maximum Bloom|
|A Stunning White R. maximum Bloom|
Hiking Upward says "look closely for an unsigned trail with no blazes, and marked with occasional rock cairns that leads left uphill. This is a rock scramble uphill for the 0.1 miles. Bear right at a flatter area with a nice view of the Lion's Head." Clearly, we went up the mountain before this rock scramble and we had a lot more than just views of the Lion's Head formation.
The important thing to stress is that I know of no other more impressive vistas in the mid-Atlantic area. This has Hawksbill and Big Schloss beat hands down. In other words, do not go to Dolly Sods and pass up the opportunity to climb up on Lion's Head.
We had a steep initial climb, but one well marked with cairns, until the trail leveled out, at which point cairns were no longer necessary to follow the trail through a beautiful stand of pines with excellent camp site after camp site. Literally, you could camp an army up on this plateau of soft pine needles.
|Pines Up on Breathed Mountain|
|Coming Up to the Top of Lion's Head|
|Amazing Sandstone Formations|
|Lots to Explore|
|The Selfie Queen!|
|Mountain Ash, Sorbus americana|
|More Blueberries on Top of the Rocks|
|Red-spotted Purple Butterfly, Limenitis arthemis|
|Blooming Stinging Nettle, Urtica dioica|
|Oxalis montana, Mountain Wood Sorrel|
|Red Creek Just Above the Left Fork|
|The Left Fork Merging into Red Creek|
|Beetle and Flies on Ox-eye Daisy|
|A Shrubby St. John's Wort, Perhaps Hypericum densiflorum|
|Thyme-Leaved Bluets, Houstonia serpyllifolia|
|Diervilla lonicera, Northern Bush Honeysuckle|
|Tragapogon praetensis, Meadow Salsify|
|Bristly Dewberry, Rubus hispidus|
We met them again at Red Creek and were chatting, when another family came up with a much larger dog. I had my back to the action when I heard one dog giving another what for. I turned to see the little Labradoodle Murphy just yapping away at the much bigger brindled Plott Hound. And then Murphy lay down on the back pack at his feet and hugged it with his forepaws. I couldn't get a picture until the other dog backed off and Murphy lay down guarding the backpack. It turns out that the only food he would eat all weekend was beef jerky and his beef jerky was in the top pocket of the backpack! The whole situation was just too cute for words.
|Murphy, Fearless Beef Jerky Guard|
|Rana clamitans, Green Frog|
|Playing Cards in Red Creek|