Monday, May 17, 2010

Hip Schmip -- Mucking About in the New River Gorge

We were not in a big rush today, because we had to stop pretty often and let me stretch out the hip.  The absolute best leg-stretching place has to be the Canyon Rim State Park, on the north side of the New River Gorge Bridge.  I can't believe we've never done this -- we did try, once, to attend Bridge Day, but were too late for the festivities.  Today, thanks to on-and-off showers, we had the place almost to ourselves, and it's amazing. 

Even though it was raining a bit when we stopped, we took an easy stroll to the overlook, and THEN went down 600 more feet to a really spectacular viewing platform. (For the record, my hip did fine, although I nearly popped a lung on the climb back up.) The bridge photo here just doesn't do it justice.  The span is so unbelievably huge, and wide, but the scale is hard to discern because it is so beautifully proportioned.  The river below just looked, today, like someone pouring coffee down a chute -- brown, high, and fast moving.  Again, the scale doesn't register, or it didn't until we saw a tiny, tiny man fishing near a boat-launch ramp. He really was almost too small to see. 

Here, pushing through its final range of mountains, it's easy to see how old the New is, compared to the surrounding terrain.  It does not follow the mountains' drainage pattern, easing down some valley.  No, it flows across the range, cutting it in half.  What a nasty surprise that must have been for early settlers moving south and west.

The Canyon Rim park has a nifty visitors' center, with exhibits on canyon life, coal mining, and New River history.  A good time was had by all, rain or no rain.  We arrived in Pittsburgh before nine, discovered that Marriott had upgraded us to a suite, and are now happily swilling diet, caffeine-free Mountain Dew and watching basketball.  Further bulletins as events warrant.

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