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Topic: Dolly Sods, West Virginia (May 25, 2013), Some miles are longer than others< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 26 2013, 10:06 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

May 25, 2013: Dolly Sods (south) circuit
Some miles are longer than others

Route: Rohrbaugh Plains Trail > Fisher Spring Run Trail > Red Creek Trail > Rock Point Trail > Big Stonecoal Trail > Breathed Mountain Trail > Red Creek Trail > Fisher Spring Run Trail > Rohrbaugh Plains Trail

West Virginia's Dolly Sods has tremendous diversity. From waterfalls, small and big, to creeks, placid and frisky, to rocky vistas with expansive views, to wide open parkland, it's at the top of every hiker's favorites' list. I always want to cram in as much of the goodness as I can on my trips there. Unfortunately, the rough conditions of most of the trails make for ever slower than anticipated going. This time was no exception: my 21mi ramble had to be cut down to 19.5mi, and even this took me almost 13hrs (including the time taken in photography).

With the forecast calling for clear blue skies I decided that I'd try and catch sunrise at the No Name Vista, on the Rohrbaugh Plains Trail, about 2.5mi from the trailhead. The rest of the route was devised on top of this starting point, with the Lion's Head vista being another must-visit destination. As I took off from the trailhead at 5:15am, the temperature was below freezing and the wind was blowing hard. It felt like winter all over again. To make matters worse it was quite overcast (I was to learn later that it had snowed the night before), so my dreams of a nice dawn were fast disappearing.

I reached the No Name Vista, a large rocky outcrop, to grey skies and howling wind. In these conditions I had no hope for an extended stay and relaxed photography. After putting on my balaclava I was able to take a few hurried, handheld shots, but that was all. I then rolled along the rocky, root-strewn and sometimes boggy trail, past a couple of clearings but mostly through lush green woods.





3mi into the hike, I crossed pretty Fisher Spring Run and then intersected the Fisher Spring Run Trail, which took me down into the Red Creek Valley, the popular heart of Dolly Sods. Roaring Red Creek Falls was a magnificent sight. I got lucky here: since I hadn't 'wasted' much time at the No Name Vista, I was able to get to the falls before the sun, which made for much easier photography.


Fisher Spring Run


Red Creek Falls


Red Creek reflections

Next up was the crossing of Red Creek. God, that water was cold! Drying out at the other end wasn't much fun either since the steady breeze made for icy feet. It was a further 15min of hiking before I was over the effects.

By now I was looking forward to getting atop Lion's Head. Similar to the No Name Vista this is a flat, large and rocky viewpoint. However, while the former is a bench sticking out from the hillside, this is a pointy headland with 360° views. To get to it I climbed up the hillside on the Red Creek Trail and then took a left on the Rocky Point Trail. In a mile the Rocky Point Trail wrapped around the headland, atop which crouched Lion's Head. Every time I've gone up to Lion's Head I've taken a slightly different route. This time, I took the direct route up, hitching a ride on the talus escalator. Lovely views, which never get old!



Dolly Sods is a region of two halves: the southern part is green woods, creeks and waterfalls, while the northern part is open parkland. In my opinion, to get the full Dolly Sods experience one has to sample both parts. With this in mind I headed up the Big Stonecoal Trail. As I climbed higher, the forest began to become more open and grassy meadows began to make an appearance. These got even better when I took a right on the Breathed Mountain Trail. (I had initially been hoping to go further, but slow going on the rocky trails had made me switch to the Breathed Mountain Trail as my turn-around point.)

The rocky up and down Breathed Mountain Trail rollercoastered its way along the outskirts of Dolly Sods (north), before a rapid descent to the Red Creek Trail. By now it felt like I was on the home stretch, since I had closed my loop, albeit a long 6.5mi home stretch. The day had warmed up nicely and the trails had become quite social, on this Memorial Day weekend. The crossing of Red Creek was a stark contrast to the lonely, bone-chilling one I'd done earlier in the day. Rather than painful the wade was quite refreshing. I was surprised to find that everyone else seemed to find it really cold; funny how perspectives change.

The climb out of the Red Creek Valley, across Rohrbaugh Plains to the car was a miserable, never-ending slog. I think those miles were longer than normal ones!

Stats: 19.5mi, 3700ft gain, 12hr 50min.


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Cmazzac Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 27 2013, 1:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow, that's unreal.  Nice pictures, what kind of camera do you use if you don't mind me asking?
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PostIcon Posted on: May 27 2013, 8:50 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sure, no problem:
- Camera: Canon 5D
- Lens: Canon 17-40mm F/4 L lens
- Polarizing filter, for all photos
- Graduated Neutral Density Filter for the first two shots
- Feisol tripod for the waterfall shots
- I did not use my 70-200mm lens, which I also had with me; it just ended up being extra ballast. :)


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PostIcon Posted on: May 28 2013, 3:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I like the one of Fisher Springs Run.

It's easy to see why it's call Red Creek.

Does your camera gear vary with whether you decide to do an overnight vs a day hike?


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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 28 2013, 4:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yeah, Red Creek is really red, from all the red spruce tanins that leach into it from the surroundings.

As far as my choice of how much camera gear I cart around, its mainly dependent on mileage and elevation gain. e.g. While doing the 1-day Presidential Traverse in New Hampshire - 8000ft+ of elevation gain over 18+ rocky miles - I ditched the tripod and extra lens. I haven't backpacked in a few years, due to family commitments, but will be doing a long backpacking trip at high altitude (up to 19,000ft) later this summer. I plan to carry all of the above camera gear, though my daily mileage should be around 8-10mi.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2013, 1:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Very nice, Gali! Beautiful photos.

The Sods really are special. Whatever the weather report says, plan on an extreme opposite. We went in October 2005 and was expecting typical fall weather. What we got was a night of freezing temps and snow. And a lost, hypothermic dayhiker that stumbled into camp.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2013, 2:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I used to have meetings in these parts of West Virginia and always allowed extra time to pull off the road and wander with my camera.  Gorgeous shots!

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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2013, 2:36 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Beautiful shots of a beautiful place.

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PostIcon Posted on: May 29 2013, 4:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aren't they like the Southern-most peat bogs in the Hemisphere or something?

Gorgeous as always, thanks Gali.


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PostIcon Posted on: May 30 2013, 10:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks guys. I love the Sods and will try and make one more trip there later this year.

dc, I don't know the answer to your question. I would think it's a no, because the Cranberry glades, also in WV, are south of there. However, I also think, as you already mentioned, that they have some distinction or the other...


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PostIcon Posted on: May 30 2013, 10:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

wow the water seem to have smoke, is that natural or something like an effect???
Can't believe that!Very fresh and alive.
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PostIcon Posted on: May 31 2013, 11:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Krocker360 @ May 30 2013, 10:11 pm)
QUOTE
the water seem to have smoke, is that natural or something like an effect???

An "effect", but not through photoshop. The shutter is open from 2-10sec for those shots, which makes the water look like that.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 7:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great shots, as usual! There's that short period in the spring, when everything is blooming, but before the blackflies are out. It's a great time to hike; everything is so lush and vibrant.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 25 2013, 11:28 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I heard about a landslide on the Red Creek Trail just south of the forks, can you verify current conditions (as of late May)?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 26 2013, 12:05 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I remember a smallish landslide between Red Creek and the Rocky Point Trail, which required a short scramble to get around. Nothing significant at all. Other than that, the Red Creek Trail had some annoying blowdowns on the section from Red Creek to the Breathed Mountain Trail. This is a just short of the Forks; I did not actually go to the Forks, so don't know if there were any other problems.

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14 replies since May 26 2013, 10:06 am < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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