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Topic: TR: Country roads, West Virginia (4/13/2014), North Fork Mountain & Sandstone Falls< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 12:01 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

How much action can you pack into 24hrs? I tried for the maximum, but fell a half hour short. What follows is an account of 23.5 tiring, but extremely satisfying hours.

North Fork Mountain

The family was driving to New Jersey, for spring break. Watching the walls breathe wasn't my idea of fun, even for a minute longer than necessary. So, Sunday morning at 2:00am, I strapped my car around me and headed off to the West Virginian countryside. Three and a quarter hours later, I reached the northern most end of North Fork Mountain. I traded the car for a headlamp and jetted off. It was cool, but for the first time this year I was clad in shorts. I stumbled up the somewhat steep and decidedly rocky trail until I hit the ridge crest, and the first of the fantastic viewpoints. The rest of the hike would be along, or just off the ridge crest.

After a quick look I continued to toil up the unrelenting grade. I took no photos since I was in a bit of a hurry to reach the first major viewpoint, Chimney Top, when the light was still nice. About 2.5mi, I took the steep side trail up to the exposed ivory fangs of Chimney Top. The next hour or so was spent happily scaling and flossing the teeth, as I took photos of my favorite view in West Virginia. The light wasn't as good as I'd hoped for, due to some low clouds, which would only occasionally let the sunshine through. It was still pretty cool watching the shadows ebb and flow on either side of the dragon's back that North Fork Mountain reminds me off.

North Fork Mountain: Atop Chimney Top

North Fork Mountain: Spire

North Fork Mountain: Ridge line

North Fork Mountain: Escarpment

It had become quite warm by now - albeit really windy on the ridge crest - but after our cold winter the heat was enjoyable. Even the birds were happy. A whole bunch of them were frolicking amongst the stunted pine trees lining the ridge top, while falcons soared in the warm thermals below me.

North Fork Mountain: Pine cone

North Fork Mountain: Chimney

North Fork Mountain: Smokestack

North Fork Mountain: Pines

Eventually, I packed my stuff up and resumed the hike. I had no destination in mind, just a turn-around time. The viewpoints were numerous and lovely, though none as spectacular as Chimney Top. Eventually, near the 5mi mark, I reached an extensive outcrop, which rose above the trees like a fin. Surprisingly, when I reached the top, I found a broad flat area, just perfect for a snack-break. After dispatching the snack and enjoying the expansive view, I decided that this was as good a spot as any to call off the dogs. The way back was uneventful, though more tiring than expected for some reason (maybe due to the heavy camera gear, which I don't bring with me on my training hikes?).

North Fork Mountain: Sun dappled

North Fork Mountain: Table top

North Fork Mountain: Cliff

North Fork Mountain: Outcrop view

Stats: 10mi, 2500ft gain, 7hrs

Sandstone Falls, New River Gorge National River

Sandstone Falls is nowhere near North Fork Mountain. However, since I had a full day (and night) at my disposal I decided that it could be made to work as my second destination of the day. I have to say that I quite enjoyed the long 3.5hr drive. Almost all of it was on empty country roads, and with the warm day I could roll the windows down and let the breeze waft over me.

Sandstone Falls is a spectacular jewel in West Virginia's New River Gorge region. While the waterfall is only 25ft tall the breadth is impressive. The National Park service maintains a boardwalk that connect the west bank to a brace of small islands in the middle of the river. This lets one get into the thick of the action, with waterfalls to the right, left and center.

I reached Sandstone Falls around 5:00pm. This meant that I had about 2hrs before the light improved and I could do some photography. I spent this relaxing on the rock slabs on one of the islands, which I'd picked out as my shooting location. I knew that when the light improved things would happen fast, so I wanted to have my spot scoped out first. As expected, everything happened in the last few minutes, so I wasn't able to get a variety of compositions - no time to move around too much - but the sunset was quite pretty and the falls were awesome.

Sandstone Falls: Three rocks

Sandstone Falls: Green water

Sandstone Falls: Spray

Sandstone Falls: Sunset

Sandstone Falls: Braid

Sandstone Falls: Turbulence

Sandstone Falls: Face

Sandstone Falls: Pool

Stats: 1.5mi, no elevation gain, 3hrs

I left Sandstone Falls around 8:30pm, but it was 1:30am when I finally reached home.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 2:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Magnificent photography as always.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 9:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

MRH, do you have the first hike Gali did on your website?

Gali, amazing shots!


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 9:31 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Gali, you're a fine writer.  That said, if I can get Grizzly James to do the writing and you to provide the photographs I could have the greatest guide book that the world has ever known.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 9:36 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(JimInMD @ Apr. 15 2014, 9:31 am)
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Gali, you're a fine writer.  That said, if I can get Grizzly James to do the writing and you to provide the photographs I could have the greatest guide book that the world has ever known.

Even if I did the writing? I'm bummed!

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 9:39 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(MRHyker @ Apr. 15 2014, 9:36 am)
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(JimInMD @ Apr. 15 2014, 9:31 am)
QUOTE
Gali, you're a fine writer.  That said, if I can get Grizzly James to do the writing and you to provide the photographs I could have the greatest guide book that the world has ever known.

Even if I did the writing? I'm bummed!

Valid point, we'll make the Gali/ GJ collaboration a coffee table book.  :D

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"Your number one philosophy for personal security should be a life long commitment to avoidance, deterrence, and de-escalation."

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Don’t go to stupid places, with stupid people, to do stupid things.
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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 9:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tomas @ Apr. 15 2014, 9:20 am)
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MRH, do you have the first hike Gali did on your website?

Gali, amazing shots!

Actually I have both, more or less. I describe a 9.9 mile shuttle hike on North Fork Mountain that can be done as a day hike but you can easily just do an out-and-back of part of it. The climb up Redman Run Trail is probably just a tad easier but you are further away from Chimney Top at that point.

If you're not into marathon driving like Photogman here consider camping at Seneca Shadows Campground and driving to the trailhead.

Mallow's Roadside Café has goodvittles at reasonable prices. Need to try the apple dumplings Alimode. I think it is the state desert - that and Blueberry Cobbler.


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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 10:12 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Can I camp there? What about water?

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 10:47 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes, some nice spots to camp, but no water sources (at least, which I know of).

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 12:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The only water sources on North Fork Mt are shallow depressions in rocks, possible ruts near the radio tower at the mid point and a difficult to find spring near the mid point.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 15 2014, 12:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(tomas @ Apr. 15 2014, 10:12 am)
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Can I camp there? What about water?

There's a few nice camp sites on the Northern half.  No water. It's said that there is a spring around the big camp site where the trail crosses what I guess is FR79.  That place was packed when we were there last fall so we never looked for it.

I've got a cabin close to Upper Tract right by Smoke Hole road, so maybe I'll drive up and look around for it when I'm there again at the end of the month.
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