Coffee and Layers on a Blue Bird Winter Day
Photos By: Sam Taylor
The wind was whipping and cold. My eyes were watering and my nose was running, but my grin was as wide as my face would allow. The Blackwater Canyon was glowing with winter’s evening sun. Sitting on Lindy Point in Blackwater Falls State Park, we were getting a show.
On a whim that morning we decided to see if Blackwater Lodge at the park had any rooms available. They did, I booked it and immediately started packing up gear. Jonas had passed through only the weekend before so we were sure to have some snow to play in.
After checking in at the Lodge we drove the mile to the Lindy Point Trail. In winter, the hike begins at a parking lot just a short jump out Canaan Loop Road. For those interested, this is a shared parking lot with the giant sledding hill complete with a ski lift. When we walked by they had a huge bonfire going.
While it was an unusually warm winter day, we had night skies and deep, rich sunsets in our minds. Preparing for a dark hike back to the car we packed our bags tight with layers and thermoses of coffee. We started walking out the sunshiny, snow-packed road, relying on our trekking poles for traction and guidance. The going was challenging, our boots slid and sunk into the white stuff, but our spirits were high in the cool winter air.
At the trail head, the sun was beaming across the snow. We stepped off the road and began the slosh to the overlook. It was a bluebird day and we could hear snow falling from the trees all around us. The evergreens were perfect with the snow piled at their bases. As we approached a rise in the trail we heard voices on the other side. We saw 3 cross country skiers heading toward us. We tucked in with some mountain laurel for them to pass. They were all smiles and told us the overlook was beautiful today. With aim, we took off on the last chunk of our push. We came upon one last rise and fall and, as we came down the other side, the temperature dropped and the wind picked up. The trail wrapped around rhododendron before opening up to one of the most famous views of our sweet little state.
Sam immediately began setting up his camera for the sunset. He hopped the rails for a moment and then retreated back to the deck. We sipped our coffee in the frosty wind while we watched the sun move lower into the valley. I was certain the sky wouldn’t do anything spectacular. Sam knew better. He took exposure after exposure and the golden color started to show in the clouds. It was subtle at first and then it really started to burst, sunbeams shot down across the snow-covered canyon.
We stayed until the color faded from the sky. We had already been given such beauty that I didn’t think we would run into much more, but as we started our hike out the stars began to appear above us. By the time we had gotten back to the road, they were shining brightly. The night was clear, we walked without headlamps. The trees stood up, proud silhouettes against that gorgeous sky. It was calm on this side of the ridge. We had left the wind alone at the overlook. We could smell the fire at the bottom of the sled hill. It felt good to be there. It was just what we needed to be doing. We hiked the rest of the way out and were greeted with strange looks as we walked out of the darkness into the parking lot. We stripped our layers into the trunk and headed to Sirianni’s Pizza in Davis for dinner.
We had salads, fresh and delicious, and a classic pepperoni and cheese pie. They have a respectable beer selection as well. After dinner we walked just down the street to the new Stumptown Ales for an after-dinner beverage before we retreated to our room at the park. We each had a Holy Citra, if you are into hops, it is a darn good IPA.
We tucked in for the rest of the night and reminisced. We were given a beautiful sunset, an incredible night sky, and ate some of the best pizza in West Virginia (in my humble opinion). Some may argue Blackwater Falls State Park is over-documented. To those folks, I say “Find your moments.” It is a big and stunning park with plenty of things worth seeing.
Getting there: From Front Royal, Virginia ~ Take US-48 W to WV-93 in West Virginia 88 miles to Davis. Follow signs to Blackwater Falls State Park. Approximately 1 ½ hours. From White Sulphur Springs, WV ~ Take WV-92 N to WV-28 N in Greenbank. Continue another 21 miles. Follow US-33 W and WV-32 to Blackwater Falls Rd in Davis. Follow signs to Blackwater Falls State Park.