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After a pair of shows in Virginia Becky and I bee-lined for the Mountain State. Used to always being on the move, we thought it just might be nice to have a home base for an extended period of time. Of course our idea of an extended period of time is vastly different from everyone else. The laughable lengthy period of time we had in mind was four nights at the Seneca Shadows campground across the road from the imposingly jagged Seneca Rocks formation in Eastern West Virginia. Here we didn’t have to set up or break down camp, unload and reload the Outback or familiarize ourselves with a new location for four blessed days and nights. Contentedly we relaxed under cloudless starry nights in the glow of a campfire every evening and each day euphorically scampered along the humid rocky hiking trails perspiring in the warm mountain air.
We spent an evening and accompanying sunset atop the Seneca Rocks formation. A well switchbacked hiking trail leads directly to the top of the formation where a overlook platform clings to the side of the mountain. Beyond the platform we ventured past a sign that warns weary hikers to only travel beyond this spot with proper technical climbing gear and experience.
On two separate days we combined multiple trails to stitch together a single loop trail in the highlands of the Dolly Sods Wilderness. This harsh yet beautiful landscape reaches more than 2500 feet above the valleys below where we are camped. The terrain ranges from deep tree covered gorges or hollows as they call them in this remote part of the country, to open mountain top meadows or balds as they are referred to here. I’ve come to realize that a bald is the most attractive and interesting part of the scenery in this part of the country along the Appalachian mountain range. The balds expose giant boulders and rocks that would normally be concealed by the thick forest canopy that covers every inch of land that is not subdued by man. They produce a break in the monotony of the green rolling mountains that are identical to the next hill over and the one beyond that.
Many balds existed pre colonization and are believed to have been a product of Native Americans clearing the land for multiple uses, including as summer grounds to graze animals and forage for berries. As Europeans pushed inland from the Atlantic their greed for land and resources such as virgin lumber fueled the creation of new balds. Here future farmers grazed their sheep and cattle. In many publicly protected lands such as wilderness’ and National Parks the dense vegetation is being allowed to reestablish a footing on these balds. Even though it goes against what I believe in as far as allowing nature to remain undisturbed by man, as these balds slowly fill back in the scenery is a little less interesting.