Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Dolly Sods

Dolly Sods Wilderness is one of those places that changes minute by minute. When I first arrived it was misty as you can see in photos below, then it rained and the blue sky emerged. It reminds me of Luna moths even though I have never seen one there; I guess it is that other worldliness that is the common thread.

It is a place that I tread lightly, breath in the smells and try to find other beings hiding in the mist. I get a sense of being watched when I am in this section of Dolly Sods.

It is the highest plateau of its type east of the Mississippi River with an altitude of around 4,000 feet at the top of this ridge crest that forms a part of the Eastern Continental Divide. It was first explored by Thomas Lewis in 1746 during the Lord Fairfax Survey mentioned in my previous Fairfax Stone post. Most people avoided the area because it was just too impenetrable until the late 1800's.  I read one account of some gentlemen daring the journey from Virginia to the Blackwater River in West Virginia and it was quite a feat to get through all of the tangled mountain Laurel. The book is called the Blackwater Chronicles and I think a must read for anyone who goes to the Blackwater area and Dolly Sods.
Lichen painted rock.

Dolly Sods was once densely covered by large Red Spruce and hemlock but was soon logged and the timber shipped off to the northeast to build homes and provide fuel.  Cathedral State Park is the only section of this forest that was not completely logged. Without the tree cover the humus created from centuries of accumulated needles caught fire and eventually burned down to the bare rocks. Since then nothing much has established itself. For awhile a German family farmed in the area and grazed sheep in the open fields but life was too hard and they moved on. In 1943 it was even used as a artillery practice area and to this day live mortar shells are occasionally found.  Now it is one of the most unusual spots in West Virginia and a place I try to visit each year. 

Looks like Andy Goldsworthy was here...or maybe a kindred spirit.

Visit other nice places at Scenic Sunday.


Ellen Rathbone said...

I give up - what are they (your last photo)?

eileeninmd said...

Wow, what a gorgeous place. I would love to take a walk there. Beautiful photos!

squirrel said...

Ellen, You are looking at the underside of Mountain Laurel. My friend Trillium placed them on the ground to see if I would notice. It is fun to see things from a different perspective which is one of the joys of Andy Goldsworthy's art work don't you think.

Eileen thank you for the nice compliment. You should come over and take a walk up there. It is near Blackwater Falls. They do spring migration bird banding up there.