Sloane and I have not been on a vacation, where it is just the two of us, for 4 years. It was way past time to treat ourselves. We found out the evening before our departure that the property we had originally booked, in Cape Charles VA, was occupied by someone else - which was mostly our fault - it is a long story. We scrambled on air b&b to find anything open for the next 5 days, and found a ski house in Canaan Valley WV. A rapid unpacking of beach items, and repacking of hiking gear consumed our evening, and by noon on Saturday we were ready to head for the mountains. We were lucky enough to find a nice place, with a hot tub and a community pool to make up for the lack of beach.
After a lot of online research, I found a few hikes that looked like winners. The first of which was an evening hike to Table Rock - to watch the sunset - or so we thought. We cooked up some dinner to bring along, put wine in the nalgene and brought our camp chairs for the show. After an hour drive on dirt roads, and another hour hiking through thick rhododendron and mud puddles we arrived at our destination.
We hiked as quick as we could, and as soon as we got to the spot, I realized the internet had lied to me, and I should have done some more research. The sun was setting behind us, in fact it was already behind all the trees.
We broke out the chairs, wine and food and had a fantastic time, despite the lack of sunset. And since we weren't waiting around for the perfect light, we were able to hike most of the way out with out flashlights.
The following day I decided we should go for a 12 mile hike in the Dolly Sods Wilderness. As usual I was a bit over zealous, since we had another 1.5 hour drive on dirt mt. roads to get there. We packed our lunch, grabbed water this time, and hit the road around 11. There are two roads in the DSWA, and we can attest that one of them is pretty terrible to drive a Honda Fit on. It was like playing a video game, dodging potholes and trying to keep the speedometer above 20, so we would arrive at a decent hour. We made it to bear rocks trail by 1230, and began our journey by foot.
If you have never been to the Dolly Sods Wilderness, you should go - it is pretty amazing. We hiked through dry rocky areas, hemlock forests, bogs, creeks and arrived at a boulder strewn plateau with a 360 degree view of the area - all in less than 4 miles. We decided not to continue with our hike as is was getting a little late to commit to 8 more miles, so we turned around and headed back the way we came.
Our last full day in Canaan Valley, we took a morning drive to the much more accessible Blackwater Falls State Park. Below the falls is the beginning of one of the more dangerous class V white water runs in WV.
After our morning hikes - we decided to head back to the house for lunch then head to the pool to relax in the sun. It started pouring, and did so for much of the afternoon. We ate, drank and played cards - then we ate some more and sat in the hot tub. It was a good day.
Our last day of vacation was the most epic. I was up at 430 - determined to see a show at Table Rock. I drove the hour on dirt roads and hiked 45 minutes in the dark, through a lot more mud than we had encountered previously - due to the rain the day before. I was rewarded with one of the more memorable sunrises I have seen in a while. The valley was filled with fog, and the sun was just about to crest over the mountain when I arrived.
We were far from ready to end our vacation, so we took the long way home. We stopped at another state park in WV called lost river for lunch, and decided to hike to the overlook they have - cranny crow overlook. After a sweaty hour of steep switchbacks and avoiding horse shit (a popular horseback trail) - we were rewarded with a great view of the valley below, and zero people to share it with - just the way i like.
After a stop in historic Winchester to grub on some delicious Mexican food, and see the city - we realized we would be passing through Harper's Ferry. So we went for another hike. This was definitely the most brutal of the 3 vistas for the day. Once you get to the top of the overlook trail, which is about 1 mile almost straight up, you descend halfway back down the mountain to the cliff below about another mile. Knowing you have to walk uphill, to get back down sucks. The view up here is well worth the hike, even if you have to share it with 30 people.
We ended our trip with this sweaty hike, and a smelly ride home - but it was a great day. Our beach vacation turned mountain vacation was a great success.