Archive for the ‘Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge’ Category

Whitegrass Ski Season Events: 2016-2017

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

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Canaan Valley’s ski season is upon us and last week’s snow has created an extraordinary opportunity for cross country lovers: Whitegrass is open for Thanksgiving weekend!

According to Chip Chase:

“We are open for the season no matter the snow now that it is winter season!”

Whitegrass Ski Touring Center is the much-beloved heart of Nordic skiing in the Canaan Valley, maintaining over 60 km of trails ranging from 3220 – 4463 ft. with over 1,200 vertical feet to cross country up and over. It offers lessons, rentals and a fantastic and cozy cafe offering homemade, healthy and hearty food — an important requisite for the cross country crowd.

Located in the southern end of Canaan Valley in what was once the Weiss Knob ski area, Whitegrass is ten miles south of Davis, WV or about 15-20 minutes. Davis is the Valley’s closest town and provides the Valley’s post office. The town’s quaint downtown offers numerous restaurants, two craft breweries, a grocery store and Dollar General, two art galleries and several lodging operations, including the Bright Morning Inn.

Whitegrass is also unique in its partnership with the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge. In exchange for allowing skiers on its property, Whitegrass provides the Refuge with numerous educational outreach events, that help teach visitors about the Refuge and its environment. Chip often serves as a leader at these events, which are largely FREE snowshoe walks on Sunday afternoons…and snowshoes are included!

The following is a list of Whitegrass events for the coming winter taken from its website. These events, largely free and family-friendly, are a wonderful chance for visitors to get to know the Canaan Valley Nordic ski community and its unique environment.

November 27, 2016 Evergreen Wreath Making Workshop – Join us for an afternoon of fun learning how to make your own holiday wreath. Bring a hand pruner and any decorations or adornments you’d like to add to your wreath. We’ll have all the materials you’ll need including a variety of firs to construct your very own piece of artwork. We’ll get started at 1pm and be around all afternoon. Dave Saville will be outa the country and WG is running this event, had plenty of practice…

December 3, 2016 35th Annual Jack Frost Celebration – Help open up the season in honor of one our favorite snowy characters. Bring a dish to share Saturday eve and we will provide the refreshments. We are making a community monetary donation matching all Jack Frost celebration and beer tips to our Tucker County Food Bank. Join in and bring a nonperishable goodie and we’ll add that to the whole shebang! Sunday brunch rounds out the weekend.

Dec. 18 Snowshoe Discovery Tour – 1 pm A natural history snowshoe walk with Chip Chase, owner of White Grass, as he shares fun facts about the climate, forest type, and geology of the area. Enjoy a short streamside jaunt that lasts about an hour and covers around a mile of easy rolling terrain.

Jan 1, 2017 Snowshoe Discovery Tour – 10 am A natural history snowshoe walk with Chip Chase as he endlessly gabs about the history of local skiing, quirky climate facts, railroad history, and the environmental battle for Canaan Valley vs. the Power Company.

Jan 7 Winter Trails Day 2017 – Free lessons, area use, and clinics to all first time interested skiers or snowshoers. XC lessons every hour and a 10 am and 2 pm clinic on types of snowshoes, clothing, basic techniques, and outdoor winter snow travel followed by a natural history tour on snowshoes into our neighboring National Wildlife Refuge.

Jan 8 Snowshoe Discovery Tours The Wonders of Winter Wildlife – 10 am Americorp Mallory Gyovai will be talking about animals adaptations to the winter season within CVNWR. Focusing on a few species, and keeping our eyes peeled for tracks and other animal signs, we will discuss how the season creates a plethora of reactions from our wild neighbors.

TBA Jan 20 West Virginia Special Olympics Winter Games Gathered are racers from three states, parents, coaches, volunteers, and helpers. This event will give back tenfold what is put in!

TBA Women’s Wonderful Weekend9am to 3 pm Refresh or pick up some new ski techniques. Instruction available for all types of skiers and experience levels from track and skate techniques to downhill control and telemark turns. Lunch included.

Jan 22 Twenty Five Km Mountain State Marathon – 1 pm A rolling long course or settle for a shortened version. Kid’s classes and well groomed for classic or skate. $20 entry fee. Sweet prizes along with website photos making you look like a champ.

Jan 22 Snowshoe Discovery Tours Time to get Squirrelly – 10 am They rummage through garbage cans, steal our bird feed, and love college campuses. But what do you really know about squirrels? Join Americorp Lauren Merrill and CVNWR on a snowshoe hike as we talk about the behavior and life history of these little creatures. You’re guaranteed to see at least one.

TBA Kids Clinic and bb biathlon 9:30 am – noon For Ages 6‐10 Both beginner and experienced kids will have fun playing games and learning new skills. 1 pm optional bb biathlon has 3 targets, 9 shots, and everyone wins!

Jan 29 5 Km Snowshoe Walk/Run – 11 am Well organized by Helvetia, WV distance runner Dan Lehmann this event features a rolling course full of prizes and fun. Snowshoe rentals available for $8. Race costs $5!

Jan 29 Snowshoe Discovery Tours Water Water Everywhere – 10 am Join Park Ranger Ted Hodson on a hike where we discuss how water in all of its forms moves through the valley. Find out why the wetlands are so important to the water cycle, and how we can guarantee its survival.

Feb 1 Our Ground Hog’s Day Ski – 9 am Our annual trek in search for clues to the rest of winter never seems to end. Full day backcountry journeys usually have no route in mind and end up lost.

TBA Parent Child Clinic – 10am to noon Ski lessons for our littlest skiers. Parents and children ages 3-5. Morning session from 10:00-­11:00. What does every skiing parent want for their children? Good health, happiness, and of course a love of skiing. We’ll engage your youngest skier in games and activities that will make them beg you to go skiing again. Plus parents will learn how to play skill-­based games with your little ones.

Feb 19 Snowshoe Discovery Tours Where Wildlife Comes Naturally – 10 am Join Park Ranger Ted Hodson who will be talking about the history and importance of the National Wildlife Refuge System. Learn why the refuge system was created, what our mission is, and all of the fun activities that are allowed on wilderness land.

Feb 26 Snowshoe Discovery Tours Volunteering at CVNWR – 10 am Join Mallory and Lauren who will be talking about AmeriCorps, Appalachian Forest Heritage Area (our program within AmeriCorps), and volunteering at the refuge. We will talk about all of the projects that are made possible by the help of volunteers, and how to get involved.

TBA Skiathon Fund Raiser for Mtn Laurel Learning Coop…start 3 pm, 1hour, 2 lap distances (one for older kids and one for younguns). Pledge forms soon to be arriving.

Mar 5 Natural History Snowshoe Discovery Tour – 10 am with Chip Chase, owner of White Grass and lifelong outdoorsman sharing his knowledge of the area as well as the history of the relationship with the Fish and Wildlife Service and the formation of the Refuge here.

TBA bb biathlon championship – 1 pm 3 targets, 9 shots, everyone wins, adults are encouraged to ski and shoot.

Hash Hound Harriers ski hash schedule announced as they are determined.

NATO Telemark WorkshopDickie has retired and will not be leading classes or tours for 2016-17 as far as we know.

Full Moon Skiing Trips are around each month’s lunar glare Dec 14, Jan 12, Feb 11, and Mar 12. We usually head out around 7:30 pm. Good snow, surprising visibility, mysterious sense of control.

2017 CVNWR Calendar Now for Sale

Friday, October 7th, 2016

2016-calendarEvery year in late summer the Friends of the 500th produce a calendar highlighting photos from throughout the Canaan Valley Region. The project is a fundraiser for the group, which provides valuable financial and volunteer support to the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

This year’s calendar is now on sale at shops throughout the region, including the Bright Morning Inn. The calendar retails for only $11.95, which is a bargain. It’s printed on hefty card stock and professionally produced through the gracious effort of West Virginia photographer Frank Ceravalo, whose own Mountain Mist calendars are sold throughout the state, including Tamarack.

The calendar features stunning photos from the many photographers who visit this special region. It makes an inspiring gift for anyone who loves visiting the Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls area or those who dream of the outdoors… while sitting inside at a desk!

 

New Canaan Valley Trail Map Gets You Out Where You Belong

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

It took months, maybe years, of hard work but the Heart of the Highlands Trail group recently completed a new trail map of Canaan Valley and its surroundings, and it’s a doozy!

The map detaiadmin-ajaxls all the important hiking, biking and skiing trails in the area, and gives valuable information about allowed uses, trail length and level of difficulty. The map brings together the many land agencies that control public access in the region. It includes the Dolly Sods and Otter Creek Wilderness Areas, the Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area (formerly CVI), the Canaan Mountain Backcountry, both Blackwater Falls and Canaan Valley State Parks, and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

The map is detailed, waterproof and comprehensive. And at only $12.95 it’s a bargain, replacing an annoying handful of individual maps put out by the different agencies.

The map is now available at Blackwater Bikes, the Tucker Co. CVB, Bright Morning Inn, the Canaan Valley and Blackwater State Parks and the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Visitor’s Center.

 

It’s Official: Blackwater Bikes Changes Hands

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Downtown Davis Gets A Fresh New Look

Downtown Davis Gets A Fresh New Look


After weeks of speculation it’s finally official: Blackwater Bikes, the well-known bike shop in downtown Davis, WV has a new owner — and he’s getting the sign repainted!
The little shop on Route 32 has been the center of mountain biking activity in the region for many years and a sponsor of numerous rides and races. The shop has an impressive history. The new owner, Rob Stull, replaces Roger Lily, who took over from Gary Berti and Matt Marcus, who bought the place from Laird Knight, who founded the shop in 1982. Whew! All were and are dedicated mountain biking riders and enthusiastic champions of the sport.
Laird’s company, Granny Gear Productions, was nationally known for mountain bike promotions and founded the popular 24 Hours of Canaan race, which was scuttled after the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge eliminated many of the valley’s trails.
The shop is well located in downtown Davis, sandwiched between Sirianni’s Cafe and the Bright Morning Inn, and a stone’s throw from Hellbender Burritos.
Rob will continue selling bikes and gear, running rentals, servicing equipment, and sponsoring rides and races in the area, including the upcoming Canaan MTB Festival June 18-21. And he wants to hear from riders about how they would like to see the shop evolve. His first act, besides giving the place a good sweep, has been to freshen up the peeling paint on the shop’s sign and post his new summer hours: Mon-Sat 10-5 and Sunday 10-4.

Hunting Chaga in the West Virginia Woods

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Chaga looks like blackened wood, or charcoal, when attached to the tree

Chaga looks like blackened wood, or charcoal, when attached to the tree

When pried from the tree the underside of the chaga is a rich yellowish orange

When pried from the tree the underside of the chaga is a rich yellowish orange


It’s a mushroom, it’s a fungus, it’s a parasite. It’s chaga, and it’s plentiful in the northern mountains of West Virginia. Known for it’s medicinal properties, chaga is brewed into tea that some people believe will boost your immune system and fight cancer. I have no experience with that. But I do know it’s fun to hunt, fun to collect and when you drink it, it tastes like the forest.
Chaga grows on yellow birch trees found in northern forests. Here in the woods surrounding Davis, WV, such trees are numerous.
The bark of yellow birch trees isn’t really yellow, more like a dull greyish green. But it’s clearly papery and birch like, and relatively easy to spot. The trees are also found in the woods ringing the Canaan Valley, in Dolly Sods and in much of the Monongahela Forest.
Hunting for chaga requires patience and persistence, and a few tools, as it has to be pried from the tree. To brew into tea, the flesh is then dried and ground into powder, or, if you’re lazy, small chunks can simply be steeped in hot water (not boiled). This is the preferred method of local folks, who have turned many people onto chaga over the years. The resulting brew is an excellent tonic after skiing or exercise. It makes you feel refreshed, and connected to nature somehow. Maybe it’s just the hydration, who knows.
There’s much to be learned on the internet about chaga, if you’re interested. But the most important thing to know is that getting out in the woods, whether hunting for chaga or not, is always good for you. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inonotus_obliquus

West Virginia Spring: A Sea of Serviceberry

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Spring comes slowly in the northern mountains of West Virginia. Near Davis and Thomas, in Tucker County, we endure a lengthy and dreary mud season when everywhere else is in gorgeous bloom. But by late April, and early May, we are rewarded by a remarkable show of Serviceberry trees. Not just a few, either, but a mass of trees whose delicate blossoms dominate the landscape for weeks.
The show is especially lovely between Davis and Canaan Valley, along Route 32, but in truth it’s beautiful nearly everywhere. It’s a subtle show, though,

Serviceberry trees dominate the landscape in Tucker Co, WV

Serviceberry trees dominate the landscape in Tucker Co, WV

Delicate and subtle Serviceberry blossoms

Delicate and subtle Serviceberry blossoms

one that isn’t often (or easily) photographed.
In the mountains we call the Serviceberry “Sarvis” and locals say the name came from the use of these, the first flowers of spring, at church services held by settlers for early circuit-riding preachers. Whether that’s true or not I can’t say. But it’s a good story and one we like to repeat.
The Serviceberry is a valuable tree for wildlife, producing small sweet berries mid summer. Birds, deer, and bear love them, and a small handful will give you a lift when hiking in Dolly Sods.
Still, it’s in spring, when the blossoms come, that this unassuming little tree is truly unforgettable.

Apples and Cranberries and Pears…Oh My!

Tuesday, September 20th, 2011

Ripe cranberries growing near Davis, Wv

Cottongrass grows in bogs, and often near cranberries

Fall in Davis, WV this year is more fruitful that I ever remember. For whatever reason — the heavy spring rains, the lack of late frost– the fruit is simply everywhere.

In the bogs on the edge of town extending all the way to Dolly Sods are millions (yes!) of plump red cranberries. They’re often found near cottongrass, and they grow low to the ground, which makes for a back-aching harvest. If you plan to pick, bring a small bucket to sit on and wear your waterproof shoes as cranberries are found in spongy wet places.

Ripe red apples near Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge

As for apples, they can be found along the sides of the roads, in and out of town, and just about anywhere humans have ever been. Many of them are poor quality volunteers — suitable mostly for cider. But some of them are wonderful, and you can only know by biting into one. Unfortunately, most are simply wasted, piling up in alleys and yards, or collected to feed the deer. The abundance is astounding, and the waste a little shameful.

Heavy Pears Ripening in September in Canaan

 

I discovered a few amazing pear trees this year, and some awesome cherries. Often these trees are zapped by the frost in late spring, which limits their fruit. But this year, when the mild days came, the blossoms stayed, and we are basking in the abundance of what was produced.

Celebrating Spring on the Refuge

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
Coiled strands of frog eggs hatching on a refuge wetland pond

 Early spring on the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge reminds us that the refuge is largely a wetland…what they used to call a swamp. When folks in the lower elevations celebrate redbuds and dogwoods, here in Davis, WV, on the edge of the refuge, we delight in skunk cabbage, and the sounds and sites of many mating frogs.  Any puddle on the refuge teems with frog eggs now, and then tadpoles, and then the ground is alive with them. Tiny at first, they head into the woods to offer succulant morsels to their many predators: birds, fish, turtles, snakes…just about everyone finds them appetizing.

Early spring is also time for the annual Woodcock Roundup, where birdlovers come together to identify and count this unusual bird whose mating dance is one of our area’s earliest harbingers of spring. This year the event takes place on Saturday, April 17th at 6:30 p.m. and will be led by refuge biologist Ken Sturm. Be prepared with walking shoes or boots and dress for the weather.

Celebrate this special time of year at one of the most beautiful places in West Virginia. As John Denver once said, it’s the place where you belong.

Plant a Tree and Help Rebuild a Forest

Saturday, January 30th, 2010
Before the  Bright Morning Inn was a lumberjack boardinghouse, long
Red Spruce in Canaan Valley

before the town of Davis was built, these Allegheny highlands were home to a magnificent conifer forest.  Help restore the majesty of that primeval forest by participating in this tree planting project on April 10th and 11th. Meet at the Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge Visitor’s Center at 10 a.m. and join a team of hearty souls as they plant spruce and/or balsam fir in early spring. Sponsored by the Refuge, WV Highlands Conservancey, Dominion Power and partners in the Central Appalachian Spruce Restoration Initiative. For more information contact Susan Moore at the Bright Morning Inn 304-259-5119.



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