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Kurt's Hikes: August 2014
Matthew and Lily on Dolly Sods, August, 2014
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Kurt's Hikes: August 2014
Aden, Matthew and Kurt around the campfire on Dolly Sods, August 2014
August 4-5: Dolly Sods! Day 1: Red Creek Trail to just onto Breathed Trail, 6.2 miles. Day 2: Breathed, Stonecoal, Dunkenbarger, Little Stone Coal, Red Creek trails, 7.8 miles
It’s a large enough undertaking to get a family of 21, ranging in age from my own geezerhood to three months old, to go stay in cabins in the mountains of West Virginia for a week. Add on to that the additional logistics of seven of those people each getting his or her own pack ready to an overnight up on the Dolly Sods plateau—and most of the other people walking them in for the first mile—and you’ve got one serious thing goin’ on.
Those overnighters had a pretty good age range too: From the aforementioned geezerhood to the 30-something dads Ben, Eric and Carl, and their kids Aden and Matthew, both 11, and Lily—on her first overnight and carrying all of her own gear—just 8.
We left the lunch-only crowd along Red Creek (after having to double back a little when black lab Cookie made the decision to go with the overnighters rather than the return-to-cabiners), and worked our way on up the gorge. Once on the Breathed, we found a beautiful campsite not much more than half a mile in, and while we paused, Aden and Matthew decided to scout ahead to see if there was something even better. Aden, setting the tone for his role as camp clown, came back and said yes, there was a waay better site up ahead. He then lamented that he let us go only a few steps before admitted he’d made it all up.
Toward evening, campers gathered wood and picked blueberries, which were rampant across the boggy plateau. Dinner was highlighted by Eric’s classic “schlop”—made of combinations of dried beans, spices, meats, cheese and whatever else he happens to have brought along . . .delicious as always.
Sleeping arrangements ranged from individual tents (Ben, Lily, Kurt), to a hammock (Matthew), out in the open under fly (Eric) to just plain under the stars (Aden and Carl).
Hikers were all strong the next day, making their way through the region’s thick black mud, the occasional giant puddle and lots of rocky sections. Lunch was at as nice a spot as the campsite, but then pretty spots are not all that hard to find in the Dolly Sods Wilderness.
And those of us who didn’t treat water to extend our supplies pretty much ran out right on time—just above the return to the Red Creek Trail.
How to get there: Go to West Virginia!
August 9: Just home from West Virginia, The Day Hiker and I urban-hiked it from home to Towers Mall two times in a row, and back!—once for I don’t even remember and once for dinner. 6 miles
August 16: Tinker Creek Greenway from Plantation Road to Carvins Cove Boat Dock and back. 4.8 miles. Well, our excuse for this easy hike was that once we got to the boat dock, we rented a two-person kayak and had a great paddle out on the calm, quiet waters, punctuated by a great lunch back in a cove.
August 23: Trail to top of Flat Top from Peaks of Otter Lodge and back. 4 miles. Another cheap easy walk, made even more so by the fact that we ate in the lodge before we started. Terrible.
August 30: Four Gorge Trail and Extension at Carvins Cove and back. 6.4 miles. We’d walked the 4 Gorge, but then turned up onto Brushy Mountain. Our first time going to the end of the Extension, though there is certainly no view nor other compelling reason to do so. Just ask The Day Hiker.