Archive for May, 2010

Stalking the Elusive Lady’s Slipper

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Sensuous wild orchids known as Lady's Slippers on May 10 at Blackwater Falls

A clutch of Lady’s Slippers on trail to Pase Point

May in the highlands of West Virginia offers a spectacle of tender wildflowers. One of the most beautiful and elusive is the Lady’s Slipper, a wild orchid that grows in the moist woodlands of nearby Blackwater Falls State Park.

Today I spotted a clutch of lady’s slippers off the trail to Pase Point, part of the Dobbin House trail network that skirts the north rim of the Blackwater Canyon. The Dobbin House trails are known for challenging mountain biking track and tricky and twisting cross country ski trails.

The area was the site of a very old hunting lodge called Dobbin House, where wealthy city dwellers came to encounter what was then Virginia mountain wilderness before the Civil War. The House burned to the ground before the turn of the 2oth century, but the magnificent site would ultimately became part of the Monongahela Forest.

Visitors to the Bright Morning Inn, in nearby Davis, WV, have access to miles of fantastic hiking and biking trails, many of which lead right from our door. But the hardiest ones brave the changeable spring weather of May in search of Lady’s Slippers. They are a sweet and elusive harbinger of spring in our beautiful mountains.

Majestic Wind Turbines Near Thomas, WV

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

The ridge just north of Thomas, WV, which we call Backbone Mountain, has been lined with Wind Turbines for nearly ten years. They’re a bone of contention for some, who question their adverse affect on wildlife, in this case the many varieties of bats who soar the night skies zapping insects. It’s a serious issue, as bats are endangered on many fronts.

But for purely visual spectacle, the turbines themselves are awe inspiring. Bold, white, quietly slicing through the sky, they are more beautiful than most public sculpture, and much more useful.

The electricity these turbines generate goes into the grid and is sold to people in the cities who want to do good and think that buying wind power, even if it costs more, is a good thing.

I’m still conflicted about the issue. I love the turbines, but am awfully fond of the bats, too. Let’s hope the clever scientists who invented these things will get with the biologists and devise a way to lessen the impact on wildlife. In the meantime I will continue to send guests who visit the Inn  up the road to photograph and marvel at the power of human engineering.

Forty four wind turbines line the ridges of Backbone Mountain near Thomas WV

Trout Fishing Fun on the Blackwater River

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

There’s nothing like spring trout fishing to keep a person young at heart. This colorful fisherwoman, my mother, Sarah Pierson, has been trout fishing lately, at a beautiful spot on the Blackwater River near Davis, WV. She hasn’t caught much, but that’s besides the point. The real fun is just sitting in a quiet spot enjoying the breeze.

Fortunately for Mom, there’s a handicap pier along the river outside town, built by folks at the Canaan Valley Institute, and a popular spot for less nimble fisher folk. Whether you dig your own nightcrawlers, or pick up some PowerBait at the sporting goods shop in town, fishing in Davis is a great and inexpensive way to enjoy the outdoors. And when you need to take a break, or when they’re just not biting, the good part is you’re close to town, with it’s charming cafes and restaurants.

Trout are stocked often in the spring, and fishing is good all along the river from Canaan Valley and down through parts of Blackwater Falls State Park (catch and release only). So grab a big sunhat, or maybe just a visor, and head to Davis for some fishing this spring. My mother says fishing is good for your nerves, and she just might be right.

Blackwater River Fishing

Trout fishing along the Blackwater River near Davis, WV

Apple Blossom Time in Davis, WV

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

It’s hard to believe that Davis, WV was once a boomtown, with nearly 5000 people and two streets lined with stores. It was a prosperous and busy place filled with boardinghouses, like the Bright Morning Inn, a fine hotel or two, a tannery and lumbermill and, of course, a railroad running right along the Blackwater River.

Nowadays it’s mostly gone…the town has dwindled to around 500 residents and there are just a handful of shops and restaurants, mostly catering to tourists. But we do have remnants of those good ol’ days– lots and lots of old apples trees. Sometimes I think Davis is an apple orchard pretending it’s a town, they’re that ubiquitous. And now, in early May, they are in glorious pinky white bloom.

The old railway bed along the new Riverfront Park is lined with apple trees, and they’re in nearly every yard. And if you north drive to Thomas, or south to Canaan Valley you’re struck by the beautiful display.

Apples aren’t gathered and treasured the way they used to be, when Davis residents needed apples for pies and sauces.  Now you’ll mostly see them strewn across the roads or alleys, rotting on the ground, an offering to deer and other critters.

But in early May, when in their blooming glory, they remind us of how rich this funny little mountain town really is, and how giving these trees have been to us these many years.

Blooming apples in Davis, WV: Remembrance of Things Past



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