Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Seneca Rocks Hike

The day before leaving for the beach I met my brother and his wife at Seneca Rocks, West Virginia for a hike.  This rock formation is well known to rock climbers and considered one of the best climbs on the east coast.  It was used during WW II to train soldiers in climbing techniques.  Although I lived in West Virginia for many years I've never climbed to the top.  My last attempt was over 20 years ago when I was very pregnant with son #2.  I didn't make it very far before I decided to turn back and wait in the car.  So when my brother suggested that I meet them there to join the hike I decided it was time to check off another item on my bucket list.

The hike is short at about 1 1/4 miles, but you climb 1000 feet in elevation.  I'm a very slow hiker on the uphill.  In fact, on the way up I usually feel like I'm going to die and begin to wonder why I didn't just look at pictures of the view from the top.  But then you get to the top and are rewarded with this beautiful view:

We rested awhile, had a snack and then walked down.  The way down is always easier on me.  And at the end I felt rather accomplished!  Seamus came with me, although I was concerned that the uphill might be a bit much for my 11 year old Golden Retriever.  He carried his own pack with his water and bowl in it.  I was also glad that I had brought my hiking stick.  It was particularly helpful for balance on the down hill climb.

Seneca Rocks has a lot of legends associated with it, some of which are mentioned in the link above.  But, for me, one of the fascinations has to do with the change in it's looks.  There used to be a large center formation called "The Gendarme".  You can see pictures in the link above also.  I thought it really made the formation distinctive.  Then in 1987 the rocks made headline news in West Virginia when the Gendarme fell off!  In a natural event of some sort, the center rock lost hold and tumbled to the bottom.  Fortunately no one was hurt in that event.  But every year rock climbers get hurt and many killed trying to scale the face.  They've put a helipad at the bottom to facilitate transportation to medical services since the location is rather remote.  There is a sign at the bottom warning about the dangers and stating that 15 people have died since the 60's making the climb.

We, of course, took the tame trail up the side of the rocks to the safe overlook.  So, I've conquered Seneca Rocks and although I share this distinction with many, many others, I'm still left feeling a bit like Sir Edmund Hillary!

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