Welcome to my first photo blog. There is no need for words when the winter beauty of Douglas Falls in Thomas, WV speak for itself. My inspiration was founded while over the last few weekends I was met by the success of the ski industry, big lines and crowded parking lots. Here are one of the best answers for solitude, quiet, and the great outdoors.
The adventure starts on Rail Falls Rd., off of Douglas Rd in Thomas, WV.
The road to somewhere.
Great history along the way, coak ovens and railroad buttress in the background. Without the coal industry, there would be no Thomas, WV.
Now this is solitude!
Wild and Wonderful
There is nothing to see folks, nothing at all!
Now get out and get Tucker'd!
The age of the box store is not dead. Just ask Ian Beckner, an entrepreneur and life time skier who has returned home with his family to open Driftland Ski & Sport in the town of Davis. At one time Driftland Ski and Sport housed the regions only pharmacy, located next to the Davis, WV fire department. It could be said Ian will have the same healthy impact on the local sports enthusiast and their equipment’s’ well-being, as did the pharmacy. At least the only overdose Ian is worried about would be from his customers having too much fun, which is not hard to do in Tucker County, WV.
I can tell you first hand the ski/snowboard tech shop in the back is as professional and state of art as it gets. Fine tuning begins with Beckner’s auto fed base and edging machine; it is the Ferrari of tuning machines and manufactured in Italy. The work bench is given incredible detail in order to prevent cross contamination of cleaners, metal shavings, and various types of hot wax. When I stopped by for pictures the other day the ski tech was wearing safety glasses and gloves while tuning, this is the first sign of a top notch product. The second omen is the fact there we 30 pairs of high end skis and snowboards that had been tuned or were slated for tuning. The word has spread fast on his ski tech’s skills, wait until winter enthusiasts find out Driftland has the newest and least expensive ski and snowboard rental fleet in Canaan Valley.
There has been a resurgence in the winter recreation scene in and around Davis, WV over the last three years beginning with the lodge and slope upgrades done at Canaan Valley Resort. Blackwater Falls State Park has added snowmaking, the longest surface lift on the East Coast, and new grooming equipment for the sledding hill and cross country ski trails. Ian has kept up the momentum by opening Driftland Ski and Sport, here are the facts on what Driftland has to offer. The entire line of ski and snowboards are made by Rossignol. Ski rentals range in size from children’s 80mm to 174mm; ski boots fit children to size 15, and are 3 buckle, front entry boot. Rarely will find such a high quality/performance boot that comes with your ski rental. The snowboard rental fleet varies in size from 100-163, and are designed with modern rocker, specific to beginners and intermediate riders. Boot size availability range from small children to size 15 and you will find helmets of all sizes are available for rent as well. Performance ski demo rentals, from reverse camber powder sticks to slalom, ‘I love my race suit’, kind of skis are very important to the kind of product Ian wants to offer. On the retail side everything you need for a day on the snow can be found, some of those brands are Electric, Fly Low, and Spy.
Before talking about the future of Driftland Ski and Sport let’s talk about the past, more specifically what’s behind the name Driftland. In 1950 the Washington Ski Club began skiing an apple orchard just to the right of where the current snowmaking ponds are located at Canaan Valley Ski Resort. The club referred to this location as ‘driftland’, due to the abundant snowfall that was first spotted by pilots flying over Canaan Valley. By 1954 a rope tow was installed and ‘driftland’ had set the path forward for Weiss Knob Ski Resort (modern day Whitegrass) in 1955, and the ski industry as we know it today. As for Ian, he wants to provide the next generation with a quality shop, bring fun and excitement to the community and ski industry, to “raise the stoke level in the skier lifestyle” as Beckner puts it. This summer he plans to close the shop, resuming his carpenter job, and working on a business model for summer 2017. Mr. and Mrs. Beckner, your stoke level has us stoked! Kudos to ya’ll.
The third most asked question in the Tucker County information center is …where are the best views? Before I proceed, you are probably asking what are one and two; 1. Do you have maps? 2. Where is Blackwater Falls State Park? There are plenty of views around, in this blog I am going to describe the most spectacular view of Canaan Valley, which is readily accessible on foot.
There is a fine line between views that take a full day to access, and those that are a 10 minute walk. My goal is to spotlight attainable views accessable to the masses, yet some commitment toward an adventure only Mother Nature can provide.
The first step is to make your way up Forest Road 80 via Freeland Rd on Rt 32 in Canaan Valley. Recently resurfaced, FR 80 meanders up Cabin Mountain, ending in a small parking lot at the trail head. Approximately a quarter of a mile from the parking lot is a kiosk for the Canaan Valley Wildlife Refuge and Dolly Sods Wilderness Area.
From this point, continue up the access trail another ½ mile until you reach several signed trail junctions and another Dolly Sods Wilderness kiosk.
Continue north on Blackbird Knob trail (no.511) for 0.3 miles to the Rocky Ridge trail head (no. 524). Hike Rock Ridge for less than ¼ mi. and you will begin to see side trails, sometimes marked with rock cairns, on your left. The views of Canaan Valley are no more than 250 feet away, up a short rise in the land.
Cresting Cabin Mountain is a magnificent experience, as 25,000 acres of Canaan Valley unfolds beneath you. The view of Canaan Valley, north to south, is an unobstructed one. In the fall, Canaan Valley reminds me of a bag of Skittles, exploded all over the highest valley east of the Mississippi River.
Want to extend the views? Continue north along the ridgeline on Rocky Ridge Trail (no. 524) for another 3 miles. Huge rock outcroppings and dense stands of Red Spruce mesmerize; contemplating the harsh environment thriving in such a rugged landscape. Making a full day or half day on Cabin Mountain is a must on any itinerary while visiting Tucker County, West Virginia.
Now make your way out the front door and head to Tucker County this weekend, and GET TUCKER'D.