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Topic: Roaring Plains TR, It never gets old< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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MRHyker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 1:54 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

09/22 to 24/2012, Roaring Plains Base Camp and Day Hike: I was joined for my biennial trip to “The Plains” by Doc, Andre the Giant, Speedy, Indiana Moser, Short Stack and Tracy. We set off down the South Prong Trail around 1:30. With only 2.5 miles to backpack to camp there was no hurry. The view at the first of several boardwalks crossing the bogs told us that it was going to be another splendid trip. The crimson color of the blueberry bushes, white tufts of cotton grass, bronze ferns and flaming red maples were outstanding. We stopped at two westward views on the way in. At the first Tracy, a new comer to the group, realized that she didn’t load the freshly charged battery into her camera. (There’s a trail name in there somewhere.) We arrived at the secluded campsite at the portal to the Hidden Passage around 3:00. I find it amazing that every time I’ve wanted to camp there over the years the site has been vacant. We went about setting up camp, collecting fire wood, hanging the bear bag line and taking naps at our leisure. Around 5:00 we hiked down to another established campsite on the other side of the stream to visit the “Hidden Vista”. There is now an obvious path from the campsite to a Rhododendron thicket. During this time of the year it is very easy to pick out the multi-trunked red maple on the other side of the thicket that serves as a landmark for the vista. A tight trail wraps around the tree, ending at the back of a sandstone conglomerate outcropping. From its base one can get some nice “window views” but if you have the ability to climb to the top of the pinnacle you will be rewarded with a fantastic panorama including Flat Rock Plains, the South Prong Drainage and the southern ridge of Dolly Sods (Rohrbaugh Plains).

That night we had a dubbing ceremony as I officially gave Tracy the trail name Dura Cell. I know it sounds pretty lame but I bet she won’t forget her batteries any more. I retired before the rest of the group which is about the norm for me these days. Some had a rough time sleeping as the wind (the origin of the area’s name) howled all night. The temperature dropped into the 30s but we were all toasty in our sleeping bags until it was time to get up.

The next morning arrived with frost in the air and blue bird skies above us. We set off on our 11.5 mile day hike at 9:00. I’ve probably mentioned it the last time I wrote about it but the Hidden Passage has become so obvious you really don’t even need a map to follow it. We effortlessly passed through the open Hawthorne meadows, Rhododendron thicket and wild cherry and birch forest. In no time we could discern the fern fields on the side of Seneca Meadows through the trees. Everybody in the group except Dura Cell and Andre the Giant had been here before so I let them go ahead so they could witness the first of many vistas for the their first time. We lingered as long as we could but the cool breeze and thoughts of what lay ahead for us soon had us moving again. We followed the old jeep road out to the gas line, spooking three deer as we went, and followed it down to the beginning of what has become known as the Canyon Rim Trail. Most of this trail has also become more obvious over the year as foot traffic has increased dramatically. After a few steps on an old jeep road I was surprised to find a well established campsite on it. In a way this is a good thing because hikers used to continue on the road to eventually find that they are way off course. The campsite serves to detour the hiker onto a footpath (the correct route) which crosses a stream and continues along the rim. We then passed through a wildflower meadow full of white Flat Topped Asters as well as other kinds of purple asters and then visited our second vista hidden in a stand of Spruce… more lingering. (Have I ever mentioned that it is impossible to do this hike fast. Not only is the terrain too rough for rapid movement but there are just too many views to by-pass.) Continuing on, the trail led us to a multi-trunked oak tree that used to serve as a landmark for a left turn of a previously barely perceivable trail. I snooped around some dead end trails just to make sure but the well worn trail turned out to be the correct one. We stopped briefly at Roaring Creek so a couple of folks could top off their water and then continued through fiery red blueberry thickets and rock fields to The Point. It was only 11:30 but this is perhaps the best place along the hike to rest and take lunch. I napped on the sunny rocks while the rest of the group journeyed out to climb upon the pedestals that define the point. From there you can see up the Roaring Creek and Long Run valleys as well as up and down the North Fork Valley. On a day like today the views are nothing less than awe inspiring. No one wanted to leave but I assured them that there would be more views to come. The trail passed through more rock fields and blueberry patches but also traversed some fine Spruce grooves. I’ve long given up trying to count all of the vistas that are along the path. It seems like each time I come here I accidently miss some but then find others that I hadn’t visited before. I always make sure that we visit three of them which I’ve personally named Sunset Rock (On our first backpack on the Plains we set out on the rocks as the sun set over Haystack Knob to see who could get the best photo. Pathfinder was the winner. Her un-touched photo servers as the header for all of the WV hike pages on my website.),  Photo Op Rock (I think everyone who hikes the Rim should have his/her photo taken here.) and Crevice Rock (If you see it the name becomes obvious. The first time I took a photo here I didn’t know that it would serve as the background for my wedding invitation a couple of years later.). We took a pretty long break here before continuing on to “The Mother of All Talus Slopes”. This is still one of the most challenging pieces of trail in the Mid-Atlantic – nothing but rocks and then … more rocks but the views are worth it if you stop long enough to look around. And then there is the descent with even more rocks. Some of us even had to use our butts to get down. I honestly believe you have to be part goat to accomplish this feat. The Rim Trail remains easy to follow for a bit longer, especially if you are careful to lift hanging tree branches that might be obscuring the footpath, however there is something about the last thousand feet or so to the Roaring Plains Trail that has me stumped. It seems that on one trip we won’t have a problem but on the next we’ll get hopelessly off trail. Today was one of the latter. Indiana began following an obvious route marked by cairns but after a hundred yards the now obviously false cairns and path stopped. Doc thought that she could see a trail below us and I concurred but at this point my now-Jello legs did not want to give up any ground let alone elevation. My GPS told me that the trail junction was, more or less, straight ahead. (I feel like I’ve written this before!) I was able to persuade the group to walk in front of me. This time getting off trail might have been a good thing as we crossed what seemed to be a flow from a pretty perpetual stream that I didn’t know about. I say that it must be perpetual because the flow is surrounded by emerald green moss. (Something to remember for future outings.) Sure enough we soon found ourselves standing on the blue blazed Roaring Plains Trail. I persuaded the group to visit the last view along the Rim before continuing on. Indiana was familiar with the rest of the route so I sent him ahead with the rest of the group except for Ann who was also feeling pain in a knee. In a way I’m glad that I had to slow down. Usually after hiking the Rim all I can think about is getting back to camp and I hike with blinders on. This time I was able to thoroughly enjoy the brilliant fall colors of The Plains. I don’t think there is a camera out there that can totally capture its essence. After showing Doc the northern terminus of the infamous Tee-Pee Trail (Now pretty obvious and marked with a cairn) we reconnected with the rest of the group at the pipe line. Again they shot ahead of us while Doc and I moseyed along FR 71. I was able to get back some of my normal gait but that sure was a long two miles. We finished off the day with a steep 0.6 mile climb back to camp, arriving about 6:15. I still find it hard to believe but Andre said that they had only been back for fifteen minutes. Was I really doing that well?

I was pretty exhausted and my appetite had totally shut down at this point so I bummed some water off of Dura and called it a really early night. The next morning was pretty casual. I guess my stomach was still holding out for some real food at the Family Traditions Restaurant in Petersburg so I simply ate a snack bar and drank some very cold stream water before packing up my gear. Everyone else was a little behind me. This was not a problem as I enjoyed lying in the grass near the fire ring and talking to a trio of bear dogs that had wandered through. They didn’t seem interested in me but they did make sure they thoroughly marked the area in case they had to come back this way. Eventually we all gathered together and began the short walk back to the car. This is probably the saddest part of the trip because you wish you could stay out here forever but eventually even retired people have to return to reality. I guess the world still needs us. By 10:00 our adventure was over. Hugs and handshakes crisscrossed each other as we said goodbye to Dura, Doc and Andre ... until the next time. Sausage Gravy and biscuit here I come!


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 3:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Excellant report MR! Lots of fun following along, since I've done this one enough times now that I well remember all the bits you pointed out.

I almost ran into you guys, since I was contemplating doing this one yet again on the 22nd - can't have too much of a good thing - but decided to hike North Fork Mountain instead.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 3:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The colors are pretty close to prime on the plateaus though the hillsides haven't started yet.

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 26 2012, 7:57 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

MR,

Excellent TR as always. I'm planning on being on the Rim and another unofficial trail on Columbus Day. Colors always seem great then. BTW, the road you walked out is FS70 not 71. Also, for many years I've seen it referred to as Canyons Rim Trail since it goes around the Rim of Roaring Creek and Long Run canyons. Nevertheless, glad you had a great time.


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 27 2012, 8:51 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I use that phrasing all of the time simply because it is not an offcial trail. BTW, someone has been doing some excellent trail maintinance on the Rim. Several large spruce blowdowns have been cleared by saw. There is one, however, where it looks likethe saw couldn't finish the job that I had a tough time getting over. (Old joints don't want to move like they used to.) The Tee-Pee Tr is now well marked on both ends and some site visitors are telling me it is becoming a bit more obvious but still tricky.

May I ask where this other unofficial trail is?


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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 27 2012, 3:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm  wanting to get there in Oct sometime also. I'd really like to re hike the Microwave Trail.

Anybody been on it lately?
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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 27 2012, 3:59 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

That was a sweet TR. Makes me wanna jump into the trusty Honda and go there right now.

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