Sunday, December 6, 2015

Black Friday at the Dolly Sods


Trails: Bear Rocks-> Raven Ridge -> Rocky Ridge -> Blackbird Knob -> Upper Red Creek -> Dobbin Grade -> Raven Ridge -> Bear Rocks

After a roughly 1.5 hour drive from the house we rented, we got to the Bear Rocks trailhead around 11:30, had a ham sandwich from leftovers and headed down the Bear Rocks Trail. I never heard a shot, but there were definitely hunters out. About a mile from the road, we passed a hunter going up hill with a deer on his back. I thought he should have looked happier since he got his deer, but I guess he was feeling the load :)

Doug and I did an overnight last year after Thanksgiving. We needed snowshoes and melted snow for water.

More pics from last year here. The weather was very different from last year.

 Parts of the trail are very wet. There is a nice stretch of board walk, but it doesn't go quite far enough. It was about this point that I decided wet feet were going to happen and I quit trying to avoid the water.

One of the things that makes the Dolly Sods so different from other east coast is the large open areas. It felt weird to be able to see so far away.

Looking due south, you can just make out a small lake in the middle that is near the head of the Left Fork of Red Creek.

We eventually came to the Rocky Ridge trail. Up to this point, we had passed a total of about 10 people, all dayhikers except for one guy who looked to be a backpacker. After this, we only saw one more person for the rest of the day and most of the next. The west side of the sods is far enough from the trailheads, that most dayhikers probably never make it that far.

The Rocky Ridge trail has great views into Canaan Valley.

There is a stretch where the trail passes among a lot of sandstone that the wind has carved into interesting shapes.

I liked this little bonsai tree growing out of the rock.

This one makes me think of a dog.

The trail itself was sand in places, but it was pretty rocky as well.

Our campsite for the night was where the Blackbird Knob Trail crosses the Left Fork of Red Creek. There are lots of campsites here, but the only person we saw was one guy who had set up a bivvy around the corner.

We gathered firewood, filtered water and cooked dinner. Then it was time for a dessert beer. The Barrel Aged Ten Fidy was great.

The next morning we had a slow start and then headed back to the car. It was much cloudier and the forecast called for rain in the early afternoon.

There is a nice mix of topography and forest types that kept changing every 1/2 mile or so. It never felt like hiking through a green tunnel.

We headed up the Upper Red Creek trail towards the Dobbin Grade trail. Everything proceeded to get wetter.

And then we got to the Dobbin Grade trail itself. The trail goes right though the creek in places and there are enough low places that the trail is pretty wet even if water is not flowing. My feet were already wet so I just walked through.

We eventually got to the Raven Ridge trail which was much more dry, but there were a couple deceptive parts. I walked through a puddle that was a lot deeper than I expected.

Someone had a fire ring set up on the side of the trail. It would make a very windy campsite, but the views were pretty nice.

And then back to the Bear Rocks trail, only a couple miles to go. So, far no rain, but every once in a while I could feel mist blowing in my face. We passed a couple more hunters about 2 miles from the road, one of which had a deer on his back.

Made it back to the car right about 1 with the wind picking up and more obvious rain. 15 minutes before, we passed 4 backpackers who were heading out on the trail, they were definitely in for a wet night. I'm glad we had the weather we did, but I would have happily joined them for another night in the sods.