For our 24th wedding anniversary we stuck with tradition and headed out to the mountains and Spruce Knob, the highest point in West Virginia. We have a cabin not too far away in the same county of Pendleton and stayed there for the long Columbus Day weekend.
The weather started out dreary, drizzly and cold and we were glad to warm up by our wood stove and the first fire of the season. A hurricane was pounding the southern states with rain and wind and we were glad to have it only bring a few heavy showers our way.
By Sunday, the skies were clear and blue with a cold, brisk wind blowing any lingering thoughts of summer far away. It was definitely Fall with all the rich smells and colors to go with it. October is such a beautiful month in the mountains.
We drove out past Franklin on Route 33 west and stopped at the Germany Valley Overlook, which is pretty no matter what time of year it is.
The road to the top of the mountain is paved these days, which has made it less of a dusty chore than it used to be. It is still narrow though, and we had to pull way to the edge to let those coming down pass by. Every now and then we glimpsed a flash of color, from a Sugar Maple or a tree harboring a bright red Virginia Creeper vine.
We drove on by the turn to the top and made our way over to Spruce Knob Lake to see how much color might be there.
It was gorgeous and the trees were further along than they had been in the valley below. It was so cold and windy that I needed to put my ear warmers and fleece on as soon as we got out of the car. We did not stay long because we wanted to get a hike in and had gotten a late start.
Backtracking towards the trail head we stopped at the campground to check it out, just because we never had . There are 42 primitive campsites-with outhouses, picnic tables and fire rings- on a one way loop in the woods. No views but still nice looking, fairly private sites.
There were only a couple of cars parked at the Allegheny trail head as we loaded our day packs and adjusted our boots.
We had hopes of finding some good views from the main Allegheny Ridge trail but were disappointed in that, and also because the gated trail had been recently traveled on by some huge vehicle that left mud and water filled ruts. It was difficult to get around some of the deep mud and I had it go over the top of my boots at one point. We decided to leave the main trail and take a side shoot instead, turning onto North Prong Trail and following it down into a quiet open valley.
Crossing the shallow creek numerous times, the trail became almost to narrow to find, through high summer weeds and amazingly thornless brambles. We eventually came out to an intersection with the Gandy Run Trail and followed that back towards our starting place. We saw hardly any wildlife and only two people the whole 3 1/2 hours we spent on the trail. Still, it was a beautiful day and much warmer and less windy down on the lower trails.
We got back in the car and drove up to the Spruce Knob viewing platform, the highest point in the state.
It was only 42 degrees F and the wind was blowing, as it always is up this high. Looking out from the top of the platform there is nothing but mountains and more mountains as far as you can see.
The Spruce trees sound like the ocean as the wind blows through them. Sometime, I hope to be up here to watch the sun set. Not today though.
Fall color is just starting and should be gorgeous in another week.
You can catch a tiny glimpse of the lake in the top left of this zoomed photo and the most color we have seen all day.
On the way down the mountain, we stopped for another great view to the East.It is always invigorating to experience Spruce Knob and we had another good day.
Back to our little cabin for dinner and warmth by the woodstove.
-wendy lee, writing at Edgewisewoods, Gardens and Critters