Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wild Wonderful West Virginia - Hawk's Nest State Park

My Dad's 65th High School Reunion was coming up and he was adament he wanted to take me and my two daughters to meet his classmates.

Dad was raised in the coal mining mountains of West (By God) Virginia. He lives now in Evansville, Indiana and we live in Iowa.That's a lot of driving!! And that would make 5 of us going out there. Dad, Jenny (my step-mom), Me, and my girls. I wasn't really sure how this would work out. So back in April and May we started tossing around the idea.

As time got closer I thought how this would be such a good experience for my girls to spend time with their grandfather...the only male role model they have really. Even if he is 8 hours away.

Dad decided  renting a van would work and low and behold, it all worked out and last Friday I found myself on the road to Evansville, then on Sunday off to Ansted, West Virgina.

It is a beautiful, wild, woolly place!!

This was the view from our room at Hawk's Nest State Park Lodge. If you haven't been there, you can not imagine how dense that forest is!!

I used to get to spend about a week there in the summer when we would go back to visit my paternal grandparents, but this was pure site seeing...and I wanted my picture in front of the waterfall.

Yes there is a trail you can hike back to a pretty waterfall and I never had, so that was my aim.

So off to the trail we went on our last full day there.

The trail started innocently enough...but don't all scary movies too???? I had heard about this trail, people had taken the trail the day before...and there were people leaving the trail as we got there. This was not a deserted place. I couldn't wait to get to the waterfall.

We asked how far back the trail it was to get to the falls... the lady said "bout half way".

K...thanks...that clears that up! ;)

We discussed what an adventure this trip was and I commented this hike was a bonding experience. My oldest said, don't say that...when you plan bonding is always when something tragic happens... hmmm. They said my great grandmother was "FAE" or had sight you might say.  Wonder if it's oddly hereditary

But off we went....

 All set for this great Hike to the Waterfall!

The Bluffs got higher!!....

The Hills got steeper and the rocks bigger!!

The forest got darker....

We crossed an old train trestle that had a metal mesh deck installed so we could walk across it...it went over this dry creek bed...If it would have been running I may have called it quits here and said good enough. But is was just...dare I say... a ghost of a falls??

From the trestle this shot straight down. The water has made the rock look so amazing!

Can't you just imagine how beautiful that would be with water cascading down, then wooshing under you as you stood on the trestle?

We started to see chunks of coal on the trail and soon came to a side trail that went down to the old mine entrance. Needing to see as much as we could, not knowing if we'd be back, we took the side trail.

The old mine was creeeepy!!

Not sure what this was...just part of the mine...maybe a vent shaft?

It was so eerie, quiet and dark and hollow sounding... Mill Creek 1921 Colliery Co. Is what the stone says.

A little edgy, we turn to go back to the main trail and find my waterfall...the creek from it flowed closely by this mine entrance and sounded amazing!!

That water had come down my falls just up ahead!!

And then

On our way back to the main trail...my oldest spied a piece of sparkly coal...she wanted it for her boyfriends rock collection. To take to him as a 'real' souvenir.

I bent down to see it too... but I never got a look at it because out of the corner of my eye I spied this.... Not 4 feet from where she was standing!!!!!

I sent the girls up the path after telling them it was there. I told them it wasn't about to attack but we needed to go... but not panic and not run. If there were others we didn't want to put them on the defensive.

Maybe a little crazy...I knew no one would believe me so I snapped this picture. I couldn't believe as much as I was shaking and as hard as my heart was beating that it wasn't blurry!! I easily cropped and blew up our little Copperhead friend for better identification....

That's when I remembered there were postcards with that D*mn waterfall on them up at the lodge. And we moved swiftly, without running, back to civilization.

And see there are even photos of it on the net.... I found this one in about 2, domesticated, air conditioned, seconds!!

It does seem a shame to have missed it...It is pretty. :) Ah well, maybe someday...

Linking to Outdoor Wednesday over at A Southern Daydreamer.. come join us!! :)


  1. It sounds like a really nice trip that you all had together. My grand fathers were coal miners in Pensylvania.

    I'm such a city girl tnat I've never seen a snake in the wild -- it would have scared me to pieces! Glad you were all OK!

  2. What fabulous pictures. It sounds like you all had a really grand time. Nice! I hope the day treats you kindly. Blessings...Mary

  3. Quite beautiful except for the snake ;-). I felt a bit cool with the water and trees.

  4. That snake would have sent me back too....looks like a beautiful place ....without the snake!!

  5. I love nature and walking in a reserve, but it's those hidden creatures like your snake that scare me! LOL I think I would've jumped and high-tailed it out of the area! What a fun adventure for you guys.
    :-) Sue

  6. Very cool pictures. That one of the mine entrance is a little eerie. Especially being decended from coal miners myself. It's quite scary to think some of the whole they crawled into and some of them at really young ages. I found a bio on my g.g.grandfather that said he started picking coal at the age of 8. Imagine?

    Thanks for sharing - it really is a beautiful part of the country.