Thursday, January 22, 2015

West Virginia Part Two: Dolly Sods North

On Sunday, part of the group wanted to stay in and play board games, so a smaller group of us went hiking. Like the cabin rental, hiking up the Salamander Ski Run at Timberline Resort and crossing into the wilderness has become an annual tradition. This year, we didn't get to use snowshoes. There was plenty of snow on the ski run, but it was all man-made snow. In the woods, very little snow covered the ground.

We made good time hiking up the ski run, getting a few funny looks from skiers and snowboarders along the way. One of the cool things about accessing Dolly Sods this way in the winter is this: You reach a bend in the ski run and you are fully in the front country. Downhill skiers fly by. You then step off the ski run, walk through 25 yards of trees and you are in the backcountry, the ski run no longer really visible through the trees. It is like a magic portal between worlds.
Once in the wilderness, we took a left on the Rocky Ridge Trail. Although there wasn't much snow on the ground, the trail was very icy in places.
At the first overlook, Dolly Sods was busy reminding us that it was winter. The 40 mph winds turned the falling sleet into something like a sandblaster. We didn't hang out here for very long.
 A little while later, the clouds broke and we were treated to a little bit of sun.
Since we weren't snowshoeing, we were able to hike faster than we could in previous years. We made it to the rocks near the northwest corner of the wilderness area in no time.
The view of Canaan Valley to the west of the rocks. Snow squalls like the one moving over the valley in this picture kept blowing through as we were hiking, followed by brief sunny breaks in the clouds.
Another view from the rocks. We turned back at the rocks so we could get back to the cabin in time to make dinner.
Hiking back towards the ski area.
A trail sign near the entrance to the ski area. Dolly Sods remains one of my favorite places to explore in the winter. Hopefully, we get a bit more snow this winter so we can get up there with snowshoes.

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