Echols Dorm: Brick Wall By Side Door
Wolfe Gap / Great North Mountain
Hey Fall Break-ers! There’s a 4-day weekend coming up, and it’s time to decide what you’re gonna do about boredom control. I personally recommend a nice dose of hiking through the Appalachians on the West Virginia border to refresh yourself for the remainder of the semester.
This trip will follow the West Virginia / Virginia border on the Great North Mountain Trail in George Washington National Forest. This area has some of the best scenery in the area, yet lacks the crowds of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
After a 2 hour drive to Wolfe Gap on Saturday morning, we will begin the hike at the west end of Tibbet Knob Trail, ascend to the summit of Tibbet Knob (2,800′) and camp. The views here are impressive and should include a nice sunset (if we make it there early enough) over the infinite sea of Allegheny ridges of West Virginia. On Sunday, we will cross Wolfe Gap, hop on Mill Mountain Trail, and traverse the Great North Mountain ridge to the northeast. This ridge will offer stunning views to the east and west. But, despite these many views, this Ridge is dominated by a huge protruding rock formation called Big Schloss- which is German for “Big Castle”- because it looks like, well, a castle! Big Schloss offers 360 degrees views -and wildlife sightings are pretty much guaranteed on the hike up. We will then hike a little ways along the Tuscarora Trail to our next camp at an east-facing overlook, White Rocks. On Monday, we’ll backtrack for a little bit before heading for the summit of Half Moon Mountain (2,800′). The views here extend in every direction also – particularly to the south and north. After the summit, we will head down to our second car (two cars are required for this trip, so one more driver is necessary!). While shuttling back to the car we left at the first trail head, we will pass a bizarre wild life zoo in the bustling metropolis of Perry, West Virginia (population 12). This is a completely optional side trip that is kind of cool, albeit unusual. They have Lions, Snakes, bears, Lemurs, and baby tigers that you can feed via a bottle for seven extra dollars. There are also many other animals there. The entrance fee is $5.
Most of this trip description is borrowed from a 2004 trip led by Rick Evans. He said of the route: All in all, this is one of my favorite areas in this region. It is quite remote- you will see no more than two lights in the valley below at night while camped upon the summits. The hike will not be too grueling either- we will go no more than 12-15 miles total (more like 17-20 miles with the detour to White Rocks).
This trip will occur rain or shine – so bring some rain gear just in case. The club can help provide gear that you may be lacking. This trip is ideal for beginners, but seasoned backpackers are more than welcome and will enjoy the unique area.
Things you will learn:
-Backcountry tent set up
-Using a topographic map and compass for navigation
-Open fire cooking
-Ride and Gas
-Gear if you need it (backpack, sleeping bag and pad, tent, cookware, headlamp, etc) — if you have your own gear, bring it because there are multiple trips using this stuff over fall break
Things you will need to bring:
-Warm clothing- expect temperatures in the 30’s at the summit campsites. AVOID COTTON. A base-layer (underarmor), mid-layer (fleece jacket / sweatshirt), and shell (light ski jacket, raincoat, etc) plus a warm pair of pants and a hat should do the trick. Just make sure whatever you bring will keep you warm on a chilly night.
-Wool socks / hiking boots
-Trekking poles are recommended
-Water bottles/ water bladder – at least 2 liters of water storage is required. More is recommended if you drink a lot.
-T-shirt, shorts or hiking pants for hiking in (jeans are strongly discouraged)
-Bowl and spoon
-Sleeping bag and pad
-First aid kit
-Money for the zoo if you want to go (if it still exists / is open)