Saturday, June 14, 2014

West Virginia - Saturday part 2 - Seneca Shadows campground

By shortly after 4pm we are back in our cars and heading back towards the Seneca Shadows campground, which we passed on the drive here. Seneca Shadows is within the boundaries of the Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation area, but the managing of the campground itself is contracted out to a private company. Government oversight tends to make these managing companies deliver a pretty high quality product, and this will prove to be true here.

4:45pm - We are checking in with the nice older couple running the campground office, and buying a few bundles of firewood. When Ted called for reservations not that long ago, he was told that the only tent spots still available for the dates we wanted were for groups, and the one he selected was a 5-pad tent site right down the road (but not too close) to the latrine and shower building. Camping is cheap. Even this large site cost $129 for two nights, or $33 per man.

4:55pm - We pull up to the parking spot next to the campsite and collectively burst out laughing. This site is large enough to hold a Boy Scout troop with room to spare. There are 5 large tent pads, tons of open space, a fire pit, two grill stands and 5 picnic tables. There are no other campsites in direct view, although we can hear the couple of other group sites that are perhaps 100 yards away through tree lines and out of sight. We are also on a dead end cul de sac, so nobody will be driving through. Perfect. The only mild concern is that there are trees ringing the campsite, but no shade anywhere in the middle. This will prove to be no issue, as we don't plan to be here except in the early morning and in the evening, and by evening the sun is dropping low behind the trees on the west side.
Group tent site, looking Southeast

6:30pm - We have set up camp, pitching tents on the three pads on the western (late-day shadier) side of the site. Ted has his own tent, as does Leo (a 4-person palace/monster that he wants to try out), while Dave and I will share a tent as usual. Everyone is showered, and we get a small fire going, just because you have to have a fire whenever possible. It's a rule.
Camp established

7:00pm - We have been relaxing, chatting, and listening to Dave noodle around on his Washburn (travel) guitar, something that comes with us on all driving trips now if at all possible. It's great to have the sound of an acoustic guitar in camp.

The view from our camp is astounding. When they named this place Seneca Shadows they weren't kidding. We are practically in the shadows of Seneca Rocks, a famous rock climbing destination of quartzite cliffs that dominates our northeastern view, rising 1,000 feet from the valley floor below, and towering over the North Fork of the South Branch of the Potomac River which runs north under its western face. Over the course of the next few days I will take at least 50 pictures of the Rocks at various times of day in different light. It is universally agreed that this is a campground worth revisiting, but that is a story for later...
Seneca Rocks from Camp

8:00pm - We settle down to a dinner of grilled boneless ribeye steaks and a hobo pouch of potatoes, onions, bacon and kale (cooked by yours truly). This hobo pack is something that I have made at home, and is an easy way to do a veggie side dish on the grill. Sliced potatoes, sliced onions, chopped up pre-cooked bacon and baby kale (or other "power greens") are put in a heavy duty aluminum pouch, oiled, seasoned, and then sealed up as best you can. Twenty minutes of so of medium high indirect heat steams the veggies pretty well, then you poke some holes and cook another 10-15 minutes to finish the cooking, releasing the steam so that it doesn't get too mushy. It was terrific, and an easy-to-make, no-clean-up dish.
West face of Seneca Rocks in the setting sun

10:15pm - We have polished off a bottle of wine and a few beers between us, and everyone is about ready for bed. The stars are amazing, and we have been watching satellites move across the sky, along with a couple of shooting stars. Way out here in the West Virginia mountains the night sky is very dark and there are more stars than you will see where we live, although not as many as we saw on the Dakotas trip in 2011 (it's hard to get farther from civilization in the lower 48 states than that...).

10:30pm - Lights out, and me with them.

Next...Sunday...the Dolly Sods Wilderness.

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