West Virginia Wildlife Center,
Holly River State Park, and
Helvetia, WV

Eagle at Wildlife AreaCabins - Click to EnlargeHelvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge
Falls on Left Fork Holly River at Big Run

9/16/06 - 9/17/06

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Waypoints

Prologue

August was pretty tough for everybody.  I was on the road for most of the month on business.  The kids were finishing up summer vacation though they were looking forward to going back to school.  Maria had her hands full and got sick along the way.  She was literally out of commission for a week while she got diagnosed and started to recover.  It would take several weeks before she was getting back her stride.  Needless to say, we all needed a break.

My friend Mike had spoken of Holly River State Park a week prior to this and it sounded like just what we needed - not too far away from the house in terms of travel time, but worlds away in terms of outlook and surroundings.  I called on Friday afternoon and found they had a cabin available for Saturday night so I booked it and sent Maria a note with the plans for the weekend.

Mike also mentioned the West Virginia Wildlife Center so I made a mental note to swing by if time and route allowed. 

Muster

Getting ready to go involved the usual activities.  I fed the GPS some map and waypoint data. 

Holly River GPS Track Log - Click to Enlarge

We packed a change of clothes.  For this trip, the cabin rental eliminated the need to inventory, pack and load camping gear.  This was a relief and made getting ready a lot easier.  Still, it is surprising how quickly we fill up two trunks with "necessary" items...  We took the bikes so that we'd have options once we landed at the park.

Trail

We hit the road a little after 10 in the morning.  When we got to the Route 119 exit off of Route 79, we stopped at KFC (the cleanest and most up-to-date this side of Morgantown we've seen) to have lunch.  From there we drove toward Buckhannon and then down Route 20 until we reached the Wildlife Center.

West Virginia Wildlife Center

West Virginia DNR Wildlife Center

Kids at Wildlife Area - Click to Enlarge
Kids at Wildlife AreaKids at Wildlife Area

 

We drove out to see the Elk first.

Elk at Wildlife AreaElk at Wildlife AreaElk at Wildlife AreaElk at Wildlife Area
Elk at Wildlife Area

The bull honored us by bellowing a great screeching roar.  Then we drove back to the main parking lot and took the walk around the main loop where we saw the inmates and some nice flora.

Berries at Wildlife Area
Berries at Wildlife Area

Deer at Wildlife Area

Wolf at Wildlife Area

Eagle at Wildlife Area
Eagle at Wildlife Area

The award for the most animated creature goes to the turkey.  Ted and Tom had gone ahead of Maria and me.  They soon discovered that they could get the turkey to follow them back and forth across the front of their enclosure.  When I first arrived, I thought the boys were chasing the turkey, but I soon learned that the turkey was following them!  It was very amusing to watch as the boys contrived all sorts of tests to see what the turkey would do.  I think the turkey was probably bored or perhaps thought the boys had food.  They weren't interested in Maria and me!

Ted's new friend the Turkey
Ted's new friend the Turkey

We saw the bears, some fox, a variety of other animals and soon reached the parking lot again.  We visited the gift shop where I purchased stickers for the travel trunks and then we got back on the road headed for Holly River.

Holly River State Park

It was about 4pm by the time we reached the park.  There were a few people at one of the pavilions, the restaurant was still open, and the sun was peeking out just a bit.  I found the keys to the cabin in an envelope with my name on it left at the camp office.  Following the signs we drove up the park road to the Cabins and easily found Cabin 6.

The whole area was very charming.  It reminds me of the mental images I used to conjure up of lush dark and green forests when Mom would read me fairy tales, and especially Hansel and Gretel

Mossy ground near cabin - Click to Enlarge

Our Cabin for the nightCabin entranceJeep Parking
Front of the Cabin 6 - Click to Enlarge

We unloaded and took a bike ride to see the area near to the headquarters, game fields and pavilions.  Maria got some salt and pepper from the restaurant.  The kids took off on their bikes.

Tom riding his bike - Click to Enlarge

The cabin is small but it worked out well for us.  Maria and I took the bed and the kids got the air mattress on the floor.  The fireplace worked well with the supplied wood.  Rounding out the features were the fully-equipped kitchen and hot-and-cold running water shower and bathroom.  A great deal and much welcome after a day on the road.

Cabin 6 FireplaceMaria in Cabin 6 KitchenCabin 6 KitchenCabin 6 KitchenCabin 6 Bed
Maria in Cabin 6 Kitchen - Click to Enlarge
Cabin 6 ContentsInformationInformation

The boys went down to the Laurel Fork stream to play.  I followed them down and took pictures along the way.  The area appears to remain dark and damp most of the time so the moss is pervasive and very thick. There was a lot to see in a small area.

Tree growing out of a stumpTree growing out of a stumpTree growing out of a stump

Kids near the Laurel Fork stream - Click to Enlarge
Kids near the Laurel Fork streamKids near the Laurel Fork streamKids near the Laurel Fork stream
Kids near the Laurel Fork streamKids near the Laurel Fork streamLaurel Fork streamTom on the Rock
Kids near the Laurel Fork streamTom and Ted on the rockTom and Ted on the RockTom on the Rock

Laurel Fork stream - Click to Enlarge
Laurel Fork streamLaurel Fork stream

Mossy Fallen TreesMossy Fallen TreesMossy Fallen Trees
Mossy Fallen Trees

Laurel Fork streamLaurel Fork streamLaurel Fork streamLaurel Fork stream

Mossy Tree Roots - Click to Enlarge
Mossy Tree RootsMossy Tree Roots

Mossy Tree Roots

Spider Web - Click to Enlarge
Spider WebSpider WebSpider Web

Mossy Tree Roots
Mossy Tree RootsMossy Tree Roots

Ferns and Mossy Stump - Click to Enlarge

Mossy Stump and Rocks - Click to Enlarge
Mossy Stump and Rocks

Trees growing on stumpMossy StumpTrees growing on stump

The cabins are close together, but we didn't find that to be a problem.

Another Cabin - Click to Enlarge
Another CabinJeep Parking

Another CabinAnother CabinAnother CabinAnother Cabin
Another Cabin

Other Cabins - Click to Enlarge


Another Cabin
 

Mossy StumpMossy StumpAnother CabinAnother CabinAnother Cabin

We had hamburgers on the grill with corn and potatoes and onions that we brought with us.  After we cleaned up, we sat down to watch a DVD using the laptop.  The only problem was that the laptop was acting up and because of some conflicts with drivers (new laptop, lots of new software installed just two days before) we could not watch the movie.  We lit a fire instead and watched that.

In the morning we had a 10:00am check out time so we had breakfast on the stove; eggs and bacon and home-fries.  The boys took their bikes and the walkie-talkies and headed out.  I packed everything while Maria cleaned up.  Pretty soon everything was back in the trunks, the cabin was clean, and the kids were back.  We took a few more pictures of the place and ourselves then headed back on the road, this time for the falls and for Helvetia.

The Family - Click to Enlarge
The Family

The Family

First we drove the campground loop to scout out campsites.  They're all nice but we prefer the ones near the restrooms and at the same time with some privacy.  With that apparent contradiction, it's not easy to find them.  I marked a couple likely sites for future reference and we doubled back to the road.

We took CR-3 along the south border of the park, through Hacker Valley.  The waypoint I set led the GPS routing software to assign a route that included a closed road (CR3/9) so when we reached that turning point, we didn't find the road.  I continued on and pretty soon the waypoint was close-by so I re-routed and found the way in.  We found a parking area, picnic table and boardwalk with steps down to some falls on Fall Run.

Walk to Fall Run Falls - Click to Enlarge

We parked the Jeep and walked down to the falls.

Fall Run Falls
Fall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run Falls
Fall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run Falls

Fall Run Falls
Fall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run FallsFall Run Falls

Fall Run Falls - Click to EnlargeFall Run Falls - Click to Enlarge
Fall Run Falls

While we were there a large group of people came down too.  We headed back to the Jeep and had some sandwiches that we had made in the morning before we left the cabin.  While we ate, the kids found a white caterpillar and spent a lot of time getting to know it better...

Caterpillar
Caterpillar - Click to Enlarge

While we were eating lunch the other visitors had made the round-trip walk down to Shupe's Chute.  We headed down and soon came to the base of Potato Knob and the chute.

Shupe's Chute

Shupe's ChuteShupe's ChuteShupe's ChuteShupe's Chute

Shupe's Chute - Click to Enlarge

Shupe's ChuteShupe's Chute
Shupe's ChuteShupe's Chute
Shupe's Chute

It took everything we had to keep the kids from falling in the stream.  The rocks were really slippery but they wanted to climb all over it and try to get down to the edge.  We had to shoot for the delicate balance between being too hovering and not being attentive enough.  Every time I get them home in one piece I think I have erred on the side of caution but sometimes I wonder if I should just cut them loose?

After we tiptoed around Shute's Chute and decided for the first time against climbing Potato Knob, we hiked down CR 3/9 (a trail these days) and across the Left Fork of Holly River to the lower falls.  Along the way we were overtaken by a lone hiker.  The climb down the hill to the lower falls was a test of Maria's ankle that was bothering her a little.  But once down at the river, we are able to enjoy it.

Falls on Left Fork Holly River - Click to Enlarge
Falls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly River
Falls on Left Fork Holly River
Falls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly River
Falls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly RiverFalls on Left Fork Holly River
Ted and Maria - Click to Enlarge

Once we had again discouraged some wet-rock climbing, we climbed the bank back to the trail and hiked back up to the base of Potato Knob.  The four-tenths of a mile to the summit, nearly vertical was enough to cause us to veto the climb.  I could envision getting part the way up and having some one of us go lame and require SAR...  Another day...

We hiked the rest of the way out to the Jeep and hit the trail again.  I took a side spur off CR-3 and followed the Left Fork for a while. Then we doubled back and followed CR-3 the rest of the way out to Pickens. We followed Pickens-Fairview Road all the way to Helvetia.

Building at Pickens, WV
Building at Pickens, WVBuilding at Pickens, WVBuilding at Pickens, WV

Helvetia

Mike and I had driven through Helvetia on a scouting trip on February 18, 2006 (9:52:06 AM) and he had mentioned that I might like to take Maria there for the crafts shops and the other things.  I noticed when laying out this trip on the map that it was close-by so made plans to come home via this little village.

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge

We arrived in the afternoon but still with some energy and curiosity.  The kids jumped out and quickly discovered the Geese.  Ted didn't believe me when I warned that the mother goose was very protective of the babies, but after a few warnings, he decided not to test it.

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

We took a walk around the little village.

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge

Helvetia, WV

Helvetia, WV

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

Helvetia, WV
Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge

Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

There were at least three broods of geese that we saw.  They were all very well behaved, taking cues from the adults - what a concept!

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

The bridge was decorated with planters full of flowers.

Helvetia, WV
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge
Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV

Behind the restaurant was a quaint shed that called to my camera.

Helvetia, WVHelvetia, WVHelvetia, WV
Helvetia, WV - Click to Enlarge

Before we left we visited a crafts shop.  Some insulators were on display in the window.

Helvetia, WV

We each got a "Helvetia" T-shirt.  For Maria, I bought a pendant that has the sun and the moon.  Other items by the same artist (Kasia Zywot or Zatarzyna Zywot) were very nice - some shown here.

Kasia's Artwork - Click to Enlarge
 

Kasia's Artwork - Click to Enlarge
Kasia's Artwork
Kasia's Artwork

After that it was time to hit the road for home!

Epilogue

We stopped at Texas Roadhouse for a nice dinner then up the road to our house. Thanks to Mike for the referrals!   We would reserve and make another trip without the kids for our anniversary in October.


Holly River State Park GPS Data

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