Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Canaan Valley Weekend 2016: Winter's Arrival

This past weekend, we made our annual trek to the Canaan Valley for winter hiking, good food, and fun with our friends. We arrived Friday afternoon to gray, relatively warm weather, at least for that part of West Virginia. We made a couple of quick stops at Blackwater Falls State Park before picking up the keys to our cabin.
Blackwater Falls
The stream below Elkala Falls.

Our plan is always to get some snowshoeing in while we are out there, but since it had been relatively warm, none of the streams were frozen over and there was only a dusting of snow on the ground. No snowshoeing this trip. If we had been able to stay for another day or two, we would have been able to snowshoe. Winter decided to arrive over the weekend while we were out there. By Monday, there was a fair bit of snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Instead of snowshoeing on Saturday, we went for a long hike on the gravel road that leads from Blackwater Falls to Table Rock. The road winds around Canaan Mountain through stands of hemlocks and rhododendrons. There is a lot of green, even this time of year.
The view from Lindy Point. It was incredibly windy and cold out here. The temperature started out around freezing, but steadily declined over the course of the afternoon.
Crossing one of the streams.
The road we hiked on.
Hiking up in the cloud towards Table Rock (which we didn't make it to).

On Sunday, the weather at the cabin started out similar to Saturday: gray, cloudy, light snow and near freezing. We hiked up the ridge to the east of our cabin into northern Dolly Sods. As we climbed, the temperature dropped and hoar frost began appearing on the trees. Towards the top of the ridge, the trees had nearly at inch of hoar frost.
 Looking up the hill towards Dolly Sods.
 Hoar frost on dried leaves.
The group, on reaching the top of the ridge. The wind was pretty mild for winter in Dolly Sods, but that doesn't mean it wasn't windy. I came down the mountain with mild windburn. It was, of course, quite a bit colder up in the wilderness area than it was at our cabin, several hundred feet below.
 Frosty trees on the plateau. I love Dolly Sods in winter. It looks different each time I'm there, but it never fails to impress me. This time it looked like a sugar-coated wonderland.
 Looking west towards Canaan Valley.
 Hiking south along the western edge of the wilderness area.
 The group hiking south along the trail.

We descended back to our cabin and got back in time to do a little bit of sledding down the hill behind it. Monday, five of us went tubing before making the long drive home. The high was a balmy -1 degrees Fahrenheit at the tubing run. We had a blast. A great end to a pretty perfect weekend.

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