This year, either I am too anxious to see color and it seems like it’s taking FOREVER, or the change is a bit later than usual. I think it’s the latter, but it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that I finally got to see some amazing color on Friday, but I had to work for it.
After being laid off from my job without warning (don’t worry, that’s old news), I suddenly felt like I had lots of free time on my hands. That’s not entirely true, because I had to find a new job, and that takes a lot of work. But working to find a new job didn’t prevent me from daydreaming about taking a motorcycle ride through the mountains. And since I typically work for contract research organizations, and there are several of those in North Carolina, I came up with a plot to schedule things carefully and line-up a bunch of interviews next week in NC.
Sounds like a great plan, right? I thought so. But then I was offered a job with a company in Charlottesville, Virginia. And I start on Monday. That’s tomorrow.
It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up, even if it does mean I can’t go to North Carolina. So I planned a trip to West Virginia instead. I was going to go on Thursday and spend the night on the road, but the areas I wanted to see were forecasting rain, which would have been miserable, so I went on Friday. Just for the day.
I revisited the Dolly Sods, a place Hubby and I had gone to by car from the WV Place in 2010. The Dolly Sods is a wilderness area that sits at an elevation of about 4,000 feet atop the Allegheny Plateau. It is one of many areas of interest in the Monongahela National Forest. The Dolly Sods is significant because of its elevation and what that means to the flora and fauna.
Much of West Virginia is pretty mountainous, but the mountains aren’t very high (the highest peak is only 4,863 feet). It’s been said that many areas of the Dolly Sods are like high-alpine regions in Canada. The snowshoe hare can even be found there.
We’ve ridden our motorcycles near the Dolly Sods many, many times, but never ventured into the actual wilderness area because it is known for its rough, dirt and gravel roads. It is a wilderness, after all. Descriptions of the route into The Sods said something to the effect of “the road climbs the Allegheny Front.”
In 2010, we entered from the southern end. Yesterday, I entered from the north. The road goes up, and up, and up — five miles from the hard-surface road — before you finally reach the top of the Allegheny Plateau. Hubby’s GPS software plotted a graph showing our elevations at various points on the trip down and back, which clearly shows the extreme elevation change entering and leaving the Dolly Sods.
In all, it’s just over 18 miles of hard-packed dirt, gravel, and rock (as in boulders embedded in the ground) road. It’s full of some very large potholes, with washboard ruts in many places because it’s a very well-traveled road. The ride up was so bumpy, I bet I stood for about a third of the climb.
It was so worth it, though. Far too many pictures follow as proof.
If you come here mainly to read my words, you may want to stop scrolling now. 🙂
Remember, click on any image for a bigger view.
I DID warn you there were lots of pictures, right? I’m not done sharing yet. LOL.
It was darn pretty atop that plateau, but it was nice on the way down, too. The next pics were captured along the road at the south end.
That’s it for the Dolly Sods pics. But here’s one last capture from not far south along US-220/WV-28…
Even in West Virginia, the color is still spotty at lower elevations. But it’s slowly, but surely, getting more and more colorful closer to home.