Mountain Escapade by Craig Miller

There is definitely something to be said about getting out of town for a few days. Getting away from your normal day to day, escaping the monotony of it all, yet not necessarily our general setting in the world. The mountain paradise in which we live is alright in my book, yet the familiar senses in our daily surroundings can cause one to go a little crazy after a while. Luckily, a work related phone conversation resulted in business abroad, even deeper into the WV mountains. A perfect excuse for a quick hiatus from frequent steps, and all in the sake of “research and development”, I didn’t hesitate for the opportunity.

On this short journey north I was pleasantly joined by Christina Entenmann, the editor and honorable chief of staff at LBSPY. Finishing up most of our business schedule by working late hours before the trip, we found two and half days to free ourselves of our daily chores and hectic business responsibilities. Attempting to leave our worries behind as we departed Wednesday morning, we both laughingly found ourselves bringing our work with us along for the ride. Unfortunately, there is no getting away from it entirely when you’re a small business owner, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying.

Our first destination was none other than Seneca Rocks, WV. Rising 900 feet from the valley floor, this stunning Tuscarora Sandstone rock formation dominates the river valley. A rock climbing mecca of the east, and home to many great hiking trails with a creek or river always close at hand, the area has really grown over the years, catering to the seasonal visitors that tour through the area.

After a quick bite to eat at the base of this overwhelming rock structure, Christina and I geared up for a hike to the top of the Seneca Rocks trail. This intermediate climb features a series of switchbacks and graded lengths, in addition to a swinging bridge over the creek at the base of the trail. On this day’s visit, the temperature was just right, and within a span of about half an hour, Christina was provided a view of the valley she had only seen pictures of or heard descriptions of before. Based upon the smile on her face, I’d have to say she liked it. Climbing here in my younger and much more fearless years, I have seen the view many times, yet it never grows old, and neither does that feeling of accomplishment when you finally reach the top of the mountain.

A much easier descent down the trail, we kept momentum and travelled a few minutes along the road in the vehicle near the town of Cabins, WV. Our temporary base camp for the next two days would be the luxurious Harmon Cabins. Situated along the South Branch of the Potamic River, this private facility offers some of the finest cabins we’ve ever had the pleasure of residing. Our cabin was fitted with a full kitchen, shower, wi-fi, Jacuzzi, and hot tub. Let us just say we weren’t necessarily roughing it.

The lodging area is located in the heart of it all, and if you’re a trout fisherman, you may have just found paradise. With two miles of stocked stream available only to guests, the numbers and size of the trout in this section of stream is staggering. Fortunately, I tussled with more than a handful of the flighty fellows during first light each morning, despite the heavy wind conditions and fishing competition in the form of a wily mink.

Thursday morning rolls around, and after a small breakfast and a couple of hours utilizing the wi-fi connection for work, we decided to head towards the area of Davis, WV. As we get closer to this small town situated along the Blackwater River, Backbone Mountain looms in the distance with its massive and futuristic looking wind turbines. The effects of last year’s derecho storm are still very apparent in many places here, including the boardwalk to the popular Blackwater Falls State Park. The lower section of the boardwalk was flagged off as timber crews continued to clear the awful tangle of broken tree limbs and damaged railing. Fortunately, we managed to get close enough to gaze at the sheer power and beauty of this rugged canyon and mindless waterfall. A brief visit at the State Park’s gift shop and a round of snapshots, and we were on our way to grab some lunch back in the town of Davis, WV.

Sirriani’s is well known as a restaurant known for quality, uniqueness, and a definite must stop when you’re in the area. Routinely voted in the top echelon, this restaurant offers some of the best pizza in the state. We whole-heartedly agree, and the Greek salads that accompanied our meal was done to perfection. The tables have glass plates placed atop, allowing patrons to gaze at the numerous personal messages, photographs, and business cards left there by previous dining guests. We both left our contribution to the table, which utilized a recycled patron bottle as the lamp, and hopped in the vehicle to check out Canaan Valley State Park.

Driving by Timberline Resort and Whitegrass Cross County Skiing area, we arrived at the entrance to the extensive mountain park. Complete with a golf course, hiking trails, a skate park, paintball, lodging, and much more, the picturesque plateau is a fantastic area for nature viewing and photography. Just a few hours drive from our central base of Lewisburg, you feel days away from the familiar smells and sounds of home. After a lengthy meet and greet with several deer cheesing for camera within the park’s boundaries, we headed back towards Seneca Rocks, in search of the elusive ramp.

On a small tributary located in the shadowed valley of Seneca Rocks, we sought out what some consider a right of heritage, if not a seasonal delicacy. The wild leak known as the ramp emerges in number as the days grow longer, signaling the right of Spring. It didn’t take long before we found a healthy patch, and we dug more than we could have eaten in one sitting in as short as time as it was to assemble the simplhy complicated collapsible shovel we had in the truck.

Back at the base of Seneca Rocks, we stopped in the Front Porch Restaurant, which overlooks Seneca Rocks on a second floor view with outdoor seating on a comfortable patio. We had eaten here before our extensive short day hike on Wednesday, but one food item in particular had us coming back for seconds. Waited on by our friendly server Wanda, who happens to have worked there since the restaurant’s opening in the early 90’s, she once again served us the Greek Lamb Pita that we both devoured in just a short span. The place doesn’t serve alcohol, but you’re more than welcome to go downstairs and purchase beer from the general store, and then bring it back to your table. Not a bad deal, one of which we utilized on our last stop in this relaxing atmosphere and quaint eatery.

Friday’s return trip “back to life, back to reality” started with the first drizzle of rain, then the next, then the pounding, pelting kind of rain that hurts your windshield. Somehow, we stopped three or four times on the way back, and each time, it stopped raining. As soon as we finished up, got back in the vehicle, and started moving again, here comes the wet stuff. Call it luck I guess, but we stayed dry the whole trip.
One of those stops between rainstorms included a warming visit to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in GreenBank, WV. We toured the gift shop, delivered LBSPY papers and Serenity Now Outfitters brochures, and grabbed a coffee from the in-house cafe. After acting like two kids in front of the thermal imagery machine, and taking some serious photographs of the interesting exhibits and models, we set in the nostalgic dining room for a brief period before travelling south once again.

Returning to our home in Lewisburg was bittersweet. As we drew closer and closer to town, we both realized that the area in which we live is some of the best the state has to offer, with places like Carnegie Hall, the Greenbrier Resort, and the Greenbrier River Trail at our fingertips. The areas in which we visited were refreshing and hospitable, yet they weren’t home, and that was the point. Fully recharged after our short getaway, it was nice to be back in familiar surroundings, even if many of those reminded us of work. This mountain escapade was a complete success, with each of us longing for the next time we can get away again, if only to remind us just how great we have it when we return home. Maybe, just maybe, that next phone call will once again be concerning “business abroad”.

Find this article: “Mountain Escapade” on roamingink.com. Roaming Ink is a website that features places to visit and things to do near and far.

-Craig Miller, LBSPY #32 (May 6-20th)

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