Thursday, August 22, 2013

Running and Hiking Today...Then Headed Further North Tomorrow

To take a little liberty with Newton's Law of Gravitation...

What goes down must come up.  At least that's the case here in hilly West Virginia.  And assuming runners don't move fast enough to go into hyperbolic orbit, . 

I got up this morning and felt like taking a little run, my first since doing the half marathon on Saturday.  The problem is, where I'm located up here on a ridge overlooking Cheat Lake, there's nowhere to run but downhill.  A steep downhill, at that.  It's exactly a mile from my timeshare condo to the main road and every inch of it is slanted.  Fun to run down, but what goes down must come back up. 

So 2.25 mile run finished, I thought while I was still in running attire I'd hop in the car and drive the few miles east on I-65 to Coopers Rock State Forest and do a little hiking.  There's an old iron smelting furnace deep in the woods that I'd like to see and what should be a fabulous overlook at Coopers Rock.

Once in the park, I took a right turn to get onto the road that goes to the Henry Clay Furnace trailhead.


Yes, in case you noticed, that trail heads straight downhill.  It was steep and rough, with big rocks and knarly roots jutting out of the ground, which were made difficult to see by the dappled bits of sun and shade on the trail that dove deep into the woods in places.

Heading down the Henry Clay Furnace Trail

The hike was worth it, however, as the old furnace was fantastic!

History of the furnace

Henry Clay Furnace

The furnace was built in the early 1800's and a little community of dwellings and stores sprung up in the area.  It's been abandoned for over 150 years and today only the furnace remains standing.  Hard to envision a community so deep in the woods!

Going back up hill!

Now I had to hike back up the trail to the trailhead where my car is parked.  The trail dropped 165 feet in elevation in the first 1/4 mile.   Getting back up will be like climbing 16 sets of stairs!

Henry Clay Furnace Trail
From the trailhead I drove back to the main park road and continued deeper into the park to the namesake Coopers Rock, where there's an overlook of the Cheat River and Morgantown beyond.  

Trail approaching the overlook

A short trail leads to Coopers Rock, a giant granite shelf, beyond which the land drops away to the river below.  It was spectacular!  Just as I approached the rock a hawk soared overhead. 

View from the edge of Coopers Rock overlook

Coopers Rock ledge

Cheat River down below
There's a gift shop and canteen near the Coopers Rock overlook so I stopped inside and chatted with the ladies working there.  Cute place, filled with cheesy souvenirs and snack foods.  Of course I had to buy a refrigerator magnet for my already over-magnet-ed fridge!

And this guy was saying "come back soon" as I walked back to my car:

A big bear, made entirely of branches and twigs

I've decided to leave this timeshare resort tomorrow - a day early - and move up to Erie PA.  I'm unhappy with this place for a number of reasons.  It's a bit run-down and shabby and lacks amenities that are standard at most other resorts.  I'm craving a bit of luxury again.  I'll stay Thursday night at a Hilton Garden Inn then continue on toward Verona NY on Friday, meeting friends along the way for lunch and picking up my race packet as I pass through Syracuse.

So for now I'm taking advantage of the washer and dryer in the timeshare unit and getting ready to pack up for my departure tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. That clay furnace is awesome. So cool to hike and see it. I love those hidden gems on the hiking trails.

    Hard to imagine a village deep in those woods, but 150 years ago those trees weren't that tall. I wonder how many trees there were or if it was fairly flat.

    Thanks so much for sharing. Have a good drive today.