Archive for the ‘Davis WV hiking’ Category

Dog in a Bog: Picking Cranberries near Canaan Valley

Friday, October 21st, 2016
pitcher-plants

Pitcher plants in Olson Bog filled with rainwater

dog-in-bog

Happy little dog laying in a bog

There are many reasons to visit West Virginia in the fall besides beautiful foliage. True, we have remarkable fall color here, which peaks early in the Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls area.

But for some of us, the most exciting part of fall isn’t the leaves, it’s the cranberries, and the beautiful bogs where they grow.

These photos were taken in an especially fine bog called Olson Bog, which is near one of the few remaining fire towers in the Monongahela Forest: Olson Tower

The tower provides 360-degree views of the surrounding area including the Cheat River watershed, Parsons, Blackwater Canyon, Canaan Mountain, Backbone Mountain and the Otter Creek Wilderness.

The tower offers spectacular views when the leaves are changing, though it’s the bog that’s the real treasure. It stretches out as a sea of fluffy cotton grass. Underneath, cranberries lay thickly, ripe for the picking by anyone with wading boots and a bucket. In between are clusters of maroon pitcher plants, which fill with rainwater, waiting for insects to fall in…and drown.

Hiking in a bog with a happy dog, picking cranberries in the quiet, is a delightful way to spend the final days of fall.

Ripe cranberries growing near Davis, Wv

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.

 

Finding Your Way in Dolly Sods

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
Rock cairns are common sites in West Virginia's Dolly Sods Wilderness

Rock cairns are common sites in West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness

Most of the trails within West Virginia’s Dolly Sods Wilderness are well worn and easily followed. For years the area has been popular with hikers and backpackers, and for good reason: it’s scenic, peaceful and amazingly wild considering it’s only a few hours from Washington, DC and other major cities.

But there are times when even well-marked trails there can be perplexing, and even experienced hikers can get turned around. Believe me, when hiking in Dolly Sods, being a little cautious isn’t a bad thing.

Seasoned hikers know how to mark their route so they can find their way back. A friend of mine used to leave little stick arrows along his route in case he needed to backtrack. And he was a woodsman who had lived in wild places all over the world.

Not everyone who visits the Sods these days is a seasoned hiker. The new road, Route 48 (Corridor H), is bringing more people to our area every year. Many of them are coming to explore the cultural attractions in nearby Davis and Thomas. Some are experiencing wilderness for the first time. These people need help any way they can get it.

Fortunately, throughout the Sods, thoughtful hikers have created stone cairns to guide you at decision points along the trail. It’s an old tradition. The little sandstone stacks are pleasantly sculptural, and when you are lost, they are beautiful sights indeed.

Not everyone likes the cairns. Some think that if you need to follow a cairn you have no business hiking in a wilderness area. Others hate seeing any sort of man-made thing in such a wild place and consider them graffiti of sorts. (Note to some cairn builders: these really aren’t sculptures, they’re built to give direction, not decorate — and in the wrong place they can cause confusion!)

I get what the critics say, but I still love the cairns. At their best, they are beacons left by someone who thought enough of others to mark the way ahead, simple kindnesses left for strangers. Who could argue with that?

Practicing the Art of Breakfast

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

The Bright Morning Inn is unique among local bed and breakfasts in that we have a restaurant that serves meals to the public. Serves breakfast. Only. And only from 7:30 to 11 am five days a week (closed Tuesday and Wednesday). Obviously serving breakfast is important, but it’s not our core business, which is lodging.

That being said, we serve awesome breakfasts, artful breakfasts, with lots of variety. Because people are different and have different tastes. We get a lot of basic bacon and egg eaters here. And gravy and biscuit lovers. But we also get athletes, and healthy eaters and city foodies with refined tastes. Thankfully, we get mostly easy going people, who are needing fuel for hiking, biking and skiing, which is why they come here.

It’s hard to please all these different tastes, though we try, and we try, also, to support our local farmers. Most of these operations are small, and mostly they are labors of love–no one gets rich from a small vegetable farm or pig operation. Now that summer is coming we are starting to see the results of their labor. This weekend, for instance, we are serving a spicy chorizo burrito from Ben Neustadt’s New City pig farm. Imagine such a thing — pigs in Canaan Valley! And we have Scott Weaner’s luscious asparagus cooked with eggs and white cheddar cheese, too. Delicious!

We wish we could offer more local foods, but sometimes it’s too expensive. Plus, our seasons are short and most of the year we have to buy from the big food guys or we wouldn’t have any food at all. Still, when we can, we will try to serve some of this local food to you. It’s an honor and privilege to cook this way, and we know it’s appreciated by the compliments we get.

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Cobbler Season: Bumper Blackberry Crop Ahead!

Saturday, June 20th, 2015
blackberry shrub

Thick sprays of blackberry blossoms in early June. They’re everywhere!

Last year's blackberries were good for picking in July and August

Last year’s blackberries were good for picking in July and August

Picking blackberries each summer is one of the simple pleasures of living in Davis, WV. For many of us, walking dogs on the edge of town means checking out the progress of the amazing blackberries that grow here in such abundance. In early June, roads and trails are positively lined with blackberry stalks, each thick with blossoms. In July and August, when the berries ripen, mounds of bear scat appear on the trails. Bear love berries, and eat tons of them, but there are still plenty left for human picking.
This year’s crop appears bigger than usual, if that’s possible. An old timer once told me that as a child he and his cousin picked 98 GALLONS of blackberries one summer, for his uncle, who made wine.
I make cobbler, using a simple crust recipe from Mimi Kibler of La Fontaine Bakery. It was her mother’s. It’s perfect with ice cream and makes a nice supper (or breakfast) if you’re too tired to cook. It’s these simple pleasures that we appreciate living here on the edge of the great outdoors.

Blackberry Cobbler

Filling:

5 cups blackberries
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar

Crust:

1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 egg
1/3 cup melted butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix berries with cornstarch and sugar, add to 9” baking dish.
Mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
Add egg to dry mixture and barely stir to combine. (Using fingers works best)
Sprinkle crumbly mixture over fruit.
Drizzle with melted butter.
Sprinkle top with dash of cinnamon.
Bake 45 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Splashdam Trail: Purdiest Trail in 48 States!

Sunday, June 7th, 2015

heart of the highlands sign

Davis' newest trail is now complete

Davis’ newest trail is now complete

gorgeous new bike trail in Davis, WV

gorgeous new bike trail in Davis, WV

Best trail signs in Tucker County!

Best trail signs in Tucker County!


As if there weren’t enough great hiking and biking trails in Tucker County, WV, there’s a newish one, the beautiful and accessible “Splashdam Trail” which leads now from the bridge in downtown Davis, WV along the Blackwater River about 4.5 miles. The trail is extraordinarily beautiful in a place where there’s already plenty of pretty trails. It’s extraordinary because of the variety of ecosystems it covers. It passes through fern meadows, mossy boulders, a wickedly beautiful stream called “Devil’s Run” and impressive rhododendron thickets. For most of its length it follows close to the Blackwater River, providing views of the river’s whitewater that just weren’t available until now.
Almost as impressive as the scenery are the kick-ass trail-building skills on display. The techniques used are first-class, efforts begun several years ago by Ken Dzaack, a consummate trail engineer with a fine eye for beauty. Ken began the project when the land was owned by the Canaan Valley Institute. The land is now owned and managed by the WV Department of Natural Resources, and is part of the Little Canaan Wildlife Management Area. The trail was finished through the efforts of the Heart of the Highlands organization, a group building a trail to link Davis, Thomas and Canaan Valley and hopefully join up with other major trail networks in the region. The effort, which requires cooperation from numerous landholders, is a long slog, but there are dedicated and talented people behind it (Ken’s wife Julie, for one), and some federal money, which never hurts.
The Splashdam Trail skirts the southern bank of the Blackwater River, away from the majority of established trails, in an area that is basically pristine and little used. It is used by hikers and experienced mountain bikers, mostly locals, who use it to access other trails south of town.
Visitors to the Bright Morning Inn are always looking for hiking ideas and right now, the Splashdam Trail is one of my top picks. It’s beautiful, it’s close and makes a perfect day trip from town. And with the newest section now complete, you don’t have to drive to locate the trailhead.
While you’re at it, check out another local treasure, the “Smallest Church in 48 States,” nine miles north on Rt. 219 in Silver Lake, WV. It’s really named “Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church” and features an altar and twelve one-seat pews across an aisle. Built in the 50’s as a family church it’s a peaceful spot set among beautiful gardens, including masses of blooming lily-of-the-valley in springtime.



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