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  1. #1
    JSH's Avatar
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    Dolly Sods, West Virginia 3 days 2 nights June 29-30

    My MeetUp backpacking group went to Dolly Sods Wilderness the last weekend in June. Last year we went to the central portion of the wilderness and this summer we moved to the northern half. It was a good choice. We hiked in Friday setting up base camp on the left branch of Red Creek which drains Dolly Sods and day hiked about 16 miles on Saturday. It rained heavily Saturday night but we weathered the storm well in our hemlock stand camp site. But Sunday proved to have unexpected challenges given the rain. Red Creek which had been ankle deep on Friday was well over waist deep and flowing rapidly. We found a blow down about 100 yards upstream of the creek crossing and straddled the log one by one to cross.

    Despite Saturday's rain the weather was ideal. Here are several pictures taken through the day Friday and Saturday. The last picture is my favorite of the trip.
    20190628_165404_HDR.jpg
    20190629_181617.jpg
    20190628_154628.jpg
    600_482779565.jpg

    And here is one of Red Creek Sunday morning. Have to admit that I was concerned about the violence of the flow but we partnered up pretty well to protect everyone crossing. One fellow got across first and waded in downstream as a life guard and another remained on the group's side of the creek waiting downstream just in case. There is video of our crossings in the trip video link further below.
    Red Creek flood Dolly Sods.jpg

    I produce a trip video for most of our hikes. This one includes a description of the hike routes we took because others in our Forum might want to give Dolly Sods a try. The Sods offers a variety of options from single night trips to multi-day trips. For my money, using base camp offers the best itinerary. Hiking 16 miles Saturday with a full pack would have been tough, but with a light daypack it was possible.

    https://youtu.be/1UFRuqy4tuY

    This trip there were two hammockers among the 11 hikers. I've been pleased to see a steady increase in hammockers in our group. Three weeks ago on a hike to The Priest in Nelson County, Va there were four hammockers out of 8 people.

  2. #2
    Member NOBOZax's Avatar
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    Nice report, pics and vid. Seems like such an interesting place to backpack Great work on everybody working together also Happy Trails

    Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk

  3. #3
    JSH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NOBOZax View Post
    Nice report, pics and vid. Seems like such an interesting place to backpack Great work on everybody working together also Happy Trails

    Sent from my LM-V405 using Tapatalk
    This hike had pretty good discipline on the trail. The fellow who lead us set a good pace to move the group forward but stopped at trail junctions to gather us back together avoiding anyone going off on a side trail. There were numerous ones of these. Once everyone caught up, we'd head out again. Worked pretty well.

    On the first day we encountered a mother bear and cub. They were several hundred yards away from us but were interesting to watch. The mother stood up on her back feet for several moments to assess us. That was cool. Then she ambled off but made it clear who was boss. Dolly Sods broad meadows allow chances to see wild life like this. Our group will go back.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the video. Looks like it was a nice trip!
    "Of all of the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt." - John Muir

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by JSH View Post
    This hike had pretty good discipline on the trail. The fellow who lead us set a good pace to move the group forward but stopped at trail junctions to gather us back together avoiding anyone going off on a side trail. There were numerous ones of these. Once everyone caught up, we'd head out again. Worked pretty well.

    On the first day we encountered a mother bear and cub. They were several hundred yards away from us but were interesting to watch. The mother stood up on her back feet for several moments to assess us. That was cool. Then she ambled off but made it clear who was boss. Dolly Sods broad meadows allow chances to see wild life like this. Our group will go back.
    Where did you see the bear? Can you narrow it down to a specific area/trail? I've never seen one there or even tracks/scat before, but I hang my food or use a bear can, nice to know I haven't been wasting my time

  6. #6
    JSH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wsp_scott View Post
    Where did you see the bear? Can you narrow it down to a specific area/trail? I've never seen one there or even tracks/scat before, but I hang my food or use a bear can, nice to know I haven't been wasting my time
    We saw the mother bear and cub about a mile in from the trailhead. Can't remember the trail name off the top of my head but it was the first trail heading west as you enter the wilderness. Area is the northern most area in Dolly Sods. The bear was on the far slope across a large meadow. She stood up to measure us. Her cub had already run into the woods but she checked us out for almost a minute, then ambled into the woods. We always hang our food so this bear sighting didn't change our protocol. I use an Ursack most of the time. Did this trip. Everyone else hung high.

  7. #7
    Recalc's Avatar
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    Good trip report; enjoyed the video. It is pretty humbling to see what one night of rain can do to a seemingly insignificant stream.

  8. #8
    JSH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Recalc View Post
    Good trip report; enjoyed the video. It is pretty humbling to see what one night of rain can do to a seemingly insignificant stream.
    Thanks Recalc. Dolly Sods is a gem. I hadn't been on the western side of the wilderness until this trip. Views were great. We had no idea of the magnitude of the rain the morning we began to hike out. The branch of Red Creek that we crossed had been less than 10" deep on Friday. In fact there were folks camping nearby. I am certain they had to pull out quickly the night of the rain. Good lesson from this experience when camping stream side. I remember thinking it would have been great to set up camp there. It was too but in good weather. They had children with them so they had to move quickly that night.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Tyroler Holzhacker's Avatar
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    Were the trails crowded with many other hikers? The Sods have become a lot more popular from what I have heard. Where did you park your car? Was there a decent amount of free parking available? I haven't been there yet, but hope to get out there soon.

  10. #10
    JSH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyroler Holzhacker View Post
    Were the trails crowded with many other hikers? The Sods have become a lot more popular from what I have heard. Where did you park your car? Was there a decent amount of free parking available? I haven't been there yet, but hope to get out there soon.
    We saw other hikers during the first two days and I believe the Sods is very popular with day hikers. Last summer our hike started on a Saturday and we actually had trouble finding parking along the main road that bisects the wilderness. This trip however we started early on Friday and had plenty of parking options. We parked on FR75 near the northern terminus of the Sods. Check out the HikingUpwards summary in the link below.

    https://www.hikingupward.com/MNF/DollySodsNorth/

    Describes a circle hike of the wilderness which we didn't follow completely. We did start our hike along the trails listed in the HikingUpward route but set up base camp about a mile inside the western boundary of the wilderness. I describe our route in the video trip report attached in my initial post. Should give you enough to go on.

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