Monday, August 17, 2015

Almost Heavenly Vacation-- Dolly Sods

Hiking on a short loop trail

Our visit to Dolly Sods Wilderness Area was so amazingly beautiful, I just had to open this post with a picture (or maybe I'd started this post weeks ago by adding the pictures first and can't figure out how to space down to start with words).

Dolly Sods is in the same county where my parents live. I'd never visited until the summer after I graduated high school. Or the summer before. I just can't remember! But I can remember being surprised by how absolutely gorgeous it was. I knew it had stunted trees, blown by the wind so hard that one side's limbs are significantly shorter than the other. But that was about it.

Wild blueberries flanked our path-- more than we could pick!

I didn't know about the wild blueberries available for the picking in the summer. Our children picked and picked and picked (and ate), and we ended up with 2 cups worth to make some blueberry muffins for Grammy and Poppa to enjoy.  If you've ever read Blueberries for Sal (by Robert McCloskey), I felt like I had been transported to a deleted scene from that book.

A view of a boggy area

In addition to forests and blueberry heaths, sphagnum bogs can be found at Dolly Sods.

Not that you'd want to wade through the boggy muck. . .

Dolly Sods, because of the elevation and location, has a climate more like you would find much farther north in Canada. Because of that, you find species associated with those areas. Reindeer lichen are one example.

That gray stuff is reindeer lichen (sometimes called moss).

After our short hike (which took quite a long time considering the sometimes rocky terrain and the berry-picking long pauses), we drove to the area of Dolly Sods calls Bear Rocks. Basically, the beauty there is breath-taking. And there are rocks. And more blueberry bushes (or huckleberry. . . I don't know which since these had no berries on them at the time) with many paths to navigate. Again, especially with the little one toddling about at this less wet location, there were more missing pages from Blueberries for Sal. He would fall down, and all you could see anywhere close by was the top of his little curly head peaking above the bushes. That boy did not want to be carried.

Not in the carrier this time!

Did I mention the rocks? Or the views? It was amazing, and for some, a little frightening to be too far out on the rocks.

Some rocks and a view. . . our pictures just can't capture the expanse!

See the stunted trees in the distance?

If you are ever in this area of West Virginia, you can't miss this. Unless it's winter. Then it might be tricky to get there.

Oh, and about the "bear" part of Bear Rocks? Yes, there are bears at Dolly Sods (yet another reason I kept thinking of the classic children's book), but we did not see any the day we were there. On our train ride at Cass, it was a different story. . .

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