Monday, June 16, 2014

West Virginia - Monday - Seneca Rocks and Home

6:50am - After a good night's sleep, Dave, Leo and I are up and about and eating breakfast. It feels a little anticlimactic, as the last day of a trip always does. Ted was up at dawn and left for home before 6am. We have a few hours to kill, hoping to be on the road no later than noon, and after sitting in camp looking at Seneca Rocks for a couple of days, this morning we are going to hike it. We will pack and leave when we return.

8:10am - We have driven the 5 minutes it takes to get to the trailhead of the Seneca Rocks trail, and are ready to set off. We are doing hike #44 on page 234 of the Falcon guide Hiking West Virginia. I have gotten good use out of that book on this trip. The hike is a 3.0 mile out-and-back across the western face of the ridge, around to the north side approach, and switchbacking 1,000 feet up to an observation platform near the top of the rock climbing cliffs.
Climber warning - People die here

As it turns out, this is a very popular and well maintained trail that makes going up 1,000 feet about as easy as possible. The trail is extensively switchbacked to minimize the uphill grade, and in the steeper sections has wooden steps in several places. It is a mostly continuous climb, but is very manageable.

8:52am - We have done the 1.5 miles out and up and arrive at the small cantilevered deck that is the observation platform. It has been a nice hike, as the woods we have gone through are very pretty, and we are on the shady side of the ridge. I am avoiding the sun wherever possible, as I burned myself pretty good yesterday, as did all of us. The view is amazing from up here, and we can see not only our campground in general, but we can actually see our campsite and Leo's tent. In the picture below, our campsite is in the open patch in the woods seen midway between the tips of the two evergreen branches in the foreground, just to the left of the cloud-shaded patch of woods.
View from the top - campground at left distance

Dave and I have collected the information necessary to log an earthcache from various signs on the way up, and find another geocache at the top of the ridge.
Leo and Dave

We sit on the benches and enjoy the view for a while, and take a bunch of pictures, before retracing our steps back down the ridge.
Me and Dave

9:55am - We get back to the bottom, where there is a bridge across the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River. It is a very picturesque spot, and I take a variety of pictures before we do the last few hundred yards back to the car. By 10:00am we are done.
North Fork, South Branch of the Potomac River

Before heading back to break down our campsite, we walk to the Education Center nearby, which is a beautiful new-looking building with a lot of good information and some nice displays. There is a really nice (big) topographic map table that depicts the whole region we have been in (in 3-D), and has the trails we have hiked marked, along with the multitude of other trails in the area. Very cool.
Seneca Rocks hike - 3.0 miles out and back (and up)

10:30am - Back at camp. We packed as much as we could last night, so it only takes us an hour to shower up, finish packing, break down everything and load the SUV. With Ted having taken some of the gear and only three of us riding, we have plenty of room.

11:35am - We are on the road. We wind back out through the mountains the way we came.

1:25pm - We are back on interstate 81 at Winchester VA.

1:45pm - We stop for a Chick-Fil-A lunch (spicy chicken deluxe of course!) as we pass through Martinsburg WV, and get a cache in the parking lot. That makes a final total of 7 for the trip - 6 in West Virginia and 1 in Virginia, including 1 new state and 3 new counties. This brings my total to a modest but respectable 1,107.

5:15pm - After an uneventful drive, I drop Dave and Leo at Dave's house.

5:55pm - Home.

Next...A final trip Recap.

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