The Old Ways - West Virginia / by sam taylor

The Old Ways - West Virginia

Good Tuesday Morning -

A thought I always have while roaming the backroads and old grades and trails of West Virginia is how fast this place reclaims it's history, but how delicate it can be to those changes. I am a huge fan of the book "The Last Forest" by G.D. McNeill - this book is set initially in the 1880s, when the old-growth forest still dominated this state, and he tells tales about fishing for trout and hiking and camping the mountains near where I grew up - along the Cranberry and Williams Rivers. The book ends 50 years later, with the virgin forest utterly destroyed, and the men that had grown up there surveying the destruction.

Reading through that book, McNeill talks about camping in the spruce forests before the timber era, bed down on the moss, staring at the stars.

It's hard to imagine, looking out at the forests of today, but of roughly 10 million acres of virgin forest in West Virginia, only 263 acres remain - at Gaudineer Scenic Area and in Cathedral State Park. That means that just about anywhere you go in the state - someone has been there before.

Today's image is a call-back to McNeill. Camped out in a hemlock grove, feeling the moss and the soft needles in the understory, watching the stars wheeling through the sky above, and trying to imagine what it would have been like, and wondering who might have slept in this spot before, over the long arch of time.

The Old Ways - West Virginia