Saturday, November 13, 2010

To the Near East

November is the time of short days, grey skies, and rain here in the Northwest. While we're all waiting for snow to come to the mountains, the recreational shoulder season makes November the perfect time to visit family in the east and appreciate the fall leaves and cold sunny days, which we don't get much of here.

To Virginia to do a little hunting (which in deer season means a lot of sitting still and quiet in chilly wooden tree stands) and eating (mothers' jobs are to keep their children well-fed) with Dave's family, then off to West Virginia to visit Seneca Rocks and do some climbing. Believe it or not, I've never actually climbed on the east coast! My outdoor awakening began post-college, in the great Northwest, but there is plenty of good rock in those much older mountains.

We were blessed with some seriously sunny days, warm and beautiful, even one afternoon in t-shirts! The town of Seneca Rocks exists of several buildings clustered around a T-intersection - two rival guide services, two rival tourist/convenien
ce stores, and a cafe. We were able to stay at the apartment above the guide service Dave used to work for, so the approach to the rock was all of a 10-minute walk across the road. Sweet!

Seneca Rocks is a big fin of stone folded vertically into the ground, relatively solid and in a beautiful setting. Unlike many crags, this has more of a mountain feel, requiring some hiking and offering longer multi-pitch routes. And the south peak happens to be the only summit east of the Mississippi that you can't hike or scramble to, pointy enough to require ropes and technical climbing.

Only a few days there, just long enough to get my steep-rock climbing skills back in order, then time to move on. We left the beautiful sparsely-populated valleys of West Virginia and continued the trip to visit my parents and sister. Raked leaves in Maryland, saw other of Dave's friends from guiding days, and suddenly two weeks was up, time to head back. Good to visit, see other places, catch up with old friends, and always good to head back home.

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