Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Trip to Dolly Sods, WV

On Wednesday (July 25), Cheryl and I went with her Dad (Benny) to one of his old stomping grounds, the Dolly Sods.

Benny looking for huckleberriesThe ridgeline road that runs through the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area crosses back and forth between Tucker County and Grant County, West Virginia. It sits at just under 4000 feet above sea level on the wind-swept plains on the Allegheny Plateau.

We arrived at Bear Rocks (3,954 feet) from the north by taking Jordon Run to Public Road 75 (PR75). We parked at the top of the hairpin turn, where Bear Rocks Trail starts. From there we walked southeast and looked for berries in the open space along the edge of the ridge there.

A huge variety of berries grow on the high plains of Dolly Sods. Locally, they get grouped together under the label "huckleberries." Among the berries that grow there: wild blueberries, chokeberries, black huckleberries, gooseberries, teaberries, and wild cranberries. I'm not a berry expert by any means, but my guess is the ripe berries we picked were a mix of black huckleberries and wild blueberries.

Cheryl and Benny crossing PR75The area where we first picked, southeast of PR75, ran along a steep slope that drops over 1000 feet in places down to Jordon Run. I suspect that we were above 4,000 feet for much of the 90 minutes or so that we picked berries on that side of PR75. The brush on that side of the road was high, perhaps knee deep in most places. The ground was sprinkled with large rocks. Walking was tedious because it was hard to see your feet, but there were no briars or thistles.

The yield on the southeast side of PR75 was disappointing. But the scenery was beautiful. We eventually crossed back over to the western side of PR75. Berries were thicker there and the brush was not quite as deep. In all we gathered about a gallon of berries between the three of us.

View from Bear Rocks area, looking eastOn the 25th of July, it was 62F degrees at noon at Bear Rocks when we parked and got out. The sky was overcast and a light drizzle eventually started. When we stopped picking berries it was down to 56F degrees. That was 3:30 in the afternoon...

We took the scenic route back home. We drove south on PR75 to where it hits PR19. There we went south and west to Lanesville. We took 32 past Canaan Valley and came home through Thomas.

The area is one of Appalachia's most beautiful places...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I grew up with Dolly Sods in my backyard and it is truly a magnificent place. On hot summer days my friends and I would pile in a car and head to "The Sods". It really has been an iconic part of my childhood. Glad you could enjoy it as well.