Monday, June 02, 2014


'Camping' in a hotel in town has it's benefits:

New phone didn't take a charge from the USB-12V adaptor I'd packed.  Still didn't have a map of WV. Forgot to bring my hat.  Needed some traveling cash.
Next door to the hotel was a Walmart... done.
Need gas.  Next to Walmart was an Aarons... done.
Hungry.  Continential breakfast at hotel... done.
Pack, load the bike, stock the cooler.  Fed, watered, fueled and ready to roll.  8AM.

A short trip down rt220 to rt 50 deposits you close to Storm Lake:

Then Rt 42 to 75, and a long, rocky dusty climb to Dolly Sodds packed with holiday weekend outdoorspersons.

On top of Dolly Sods I passed a loaded KLR off at the edge of the woods.  I stopped and chatted with the rider for a while.  He was a jackpot of local info.  Dolly Sodds has dispersed camping and so you can't get skunked for a camp site - in exchange you have to pack in your own water.... and no bathrooms... but you get to ride this:

Descending Dolly Sodds to rt 28, and I could tell by the terrain I was close to Seneca Rocks.  Then sudddenly I'd passed them.  The big general store at the junction of rt 28 and 33 was crowded with bikes and campers, and the distraction is enough to miss the rocks immediately adjacent.  I kept moving, but in a short distance saw a sign for Seneca Rocks camping.  It was early afternoon, but after the fiasco of the previous night, I was taking no chances.  $20 later, I was set up at a beautiful site.  It wasn't until I made lunch that I realized that the new cook set lacks a means to fry.  My tiny bottle of oil was worthless.

Refreshed, and with the bike unloaded, I hit the road for Spruce Knob.  Unloading the bike always makes more handling difference than I feel like it should.

112 winds up the knob, offering fantastic views which are actually so common here that they're starting to be less exciting.

Obligatory picture on top of WV.  It's no Mt. Washington.  The perfect weather and 2000' lower elevation make the summit a little underwhelming.  

I hiked the 900 feet to the observation tower, and then the 1/2 mile 'interactive trail' on top.  The trees show evidence of the prevailing winds, but it's no "Krummholz".

Google has a pic of any place there is... but if you put yourself in it, you might remember being there.  You need 8' long arms to get a selfie which captures some of the grandeur behind you.

Next was more dusty gravel a surprisingly long way to Spruce Knob lake, which, while pretty, didn't really offer much to do.  A few pics later, I plotted a big loop back towards Seneca Rocks: 40 to 29 to 33.  A big chunk of that route was dirt/ gravel and threaded a stream with dispersed camping, fantastic scenery, and few people.  When you picture a riding vacation on a dual sport, I think you mind's eye actually conjures some of this route.
By around supper time, 33 deposits me back at the junction in front of Seneca Rocks.  I stopped at the general store for a photo op and a strawberry ice cream cone. 

I was close to the campsite (I think I stopped and ate supper there).  I had enough daylight left to try and hit Franklin, where I assumed I might find some cell service.  Daily check-ins are expected and I didn't want to worry Mrs. Awesome.

Seneca Caverns isn't a big diversion and is a potential 'to do,' so I left rt 28.  Around a bend a turkey vulture took off from the other lane and paralleled me for a while at low altitude.  I was riding alongside a vulture at eye level - amazing.  In the farm fields lining the roads, young calves were running and frolicking, new lambs were eating grass thru the fence a few feet from me as I passed.  It was all very happy-making.
I arrived at Seneca Caverns to find a young docent locking the gate.  I got some particulars and was told I might find cell service on the mountain I need to cross to get to Franklin.

On top of the mountain to Franklin, I stopped in sight of the cell tower and still had nothing.  I rode into town and gassed up - no service here, either, but a strange sight - a pay phone.  We often joke about how you don't see pay phones anymore.  Unable to complete a collect call, and unwilling to doff gear and get pounds of change, I headed for camp the way I'd came.  This time, I stopped at the lookout over Germany Valley and read the civil war historical plaque there.  Atop the mountain, I could hear a loud, angry woman shouting obscenities from the valley below.  I'm sure there's a story there, but I don't know.

Back at camp,  the neighboring site had been pitched by a group of 4 or 5 older Asian men.  The were up late talking, laughing, and occasionally singing a few lines.  It was interesting to hear older, reserved, quiet revelry in a foreign tongue.
A bad night ensued - several times I awoke on the ground laying on a deflated air mat.  What I thought was a gear failure turned out to just be an idiosyncrasy of the valve cap.  At some point one of my re-fills held.
Then it got cold.  The Nemo sleeping bag was perfect.

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