Friday, July 31, 2015

West Virginia's Via Ferrata

As I said on Monday I think we have finally had our ultimate adventure.  And we only had to travel 3.5 hours away to find it.  Tucked in the small area of Circleville West Virginia, NROCKS, is an outdoor adventure climbing center like no other.  I found out about this place by word of mouth, nothing more than a "you might like this place...check them out".  I did some research online and pretty much became obsessed with planning this trip. 

They have a few options for outdoor adventures...canopy tours, climbing and the via ferrata.  The via what you might ask?  No worries...I had to look it up myself.  It's a series of fixed ladders, cables and bridges along a mountain route that allow passage to hikers and climbers.  That doesn't sound very adventurous does it?  What if I said NROCKS' Via Ferrata could get as high up as 280ft. off the ground?   Sign me up! 


The fixed ladders and cables
 
Starting up the front side of the first "fin"



Sometimes there was a ledge to walk on instead of a metal rung

The double fins.  This is from the backside of the first fin.

Now on the backside of the first fin we get to the bridge


A shot of the second fin while waiting to cross the bridge

Coming up the backside of the first fin

One of our guides taking a breather before the bridge

I had already crossed the bridge and looking back at fin one

Coming up the front side of the second fin
 
Now on the backside of the second fin-the optional 40ft vertical climb







Going up wasn't the problem...coming down was the challenge. 


We survived!!!!!!!!!!!!


As with all adventures...pictures do not do this justice!  Nothing like the view from so high up and the feeling of being on the side of a mountain.  We were always secured with a harness and clamps so I felt safe.  Tour guides accompany you on the trip with instructions for safety and movement.  The trip is between 3-3.5 hours long and the cost is between $80-$115.  They have packages for combining other activities and even lodging.  We booked lodging on site because I wasn't sure about drive times. There is also camping on site and cabin rentals.  
 
The lodge has 8 guest rooms.  Each room has a full size bed and a set of twin bunk beds. 


There weren't a lot of options for food nearby unless you were willing to drive a little ways.  That usually isn't a problem for us but I'm not a fan of curvy roads...and WVA is CRUVY roads.  We did find a spot for dinner here at the Front Porch Restaurant.  The food was pretty good (or we were starved) and the view was amazing. 


Seneca Rocks in West Virginia


Bird show...for free





Our day didn't end here but my blog post will...more to post later.  You didn't think the fun ended with a mountain climb did you?
 


Monday, July 27, 2015

A Sneak Peak

Hands down this past weekend was by far the best adventure we've had so far!  I'll be working on the post for a few days but today a sneak peak!

 
I'm still grinning from all the fun our weekend entailed! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Zip Lining Adventures

Last year Mark and I visited Shenandoah River State Park and "Zipped the Park" with Virginia Canopy Tours.  Since we had never done more than a short zip lining course we wanted to try it out ourselves and get a feel for if the kids would like it.  After two zips it was pretty clear that this was something the kids would LOVE.  I started planning a trip in my head that would involve the kids and a return trip back to the park. 

Now I will share a little secret about some of the adventures we go on....it's called Living Social.  That site has some really good deals and some really fun things to try out.  That is how Mark and I went on our first Canopy Tours Trip last year.  This year it offered a similar deal and knowing I wanted to take the kids I jumped on it and bought 4 packages.  The regular price to zip is $89 but the package price on Living Social was $39.  Can you say BARGAIN! I booked a room for a night in Front Royal (same place Mark and I stayed last time) and made our reservations for the zip lining.  Virginia Canopy was very easy to work with and even helped me switch times when I needed to add an extra person. 

This time I knew to get the Go Pro...if you do nothing else...get the Go Pro!  It's an extra $35 and worth every penny!

video
 
 
8 zip lines, 1 set of air stairs, 1 air bridge, 1 repel down,  2 nature walks and an ATV ride up to the zip lining start=3 teenage kids that thought their parents were awesome for arranging to do this with them. 
 
Living Social has a similar package going on now.  The price is a little higher but includes an inner tube so you can float on the river after all that zip lining.
 
 
The park itself does have camping...so if you do want a little more adventure thrown into your trip then check it out. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Channels State Forest

A few weeks back when I was researching fun things for Tommy and I to do while on our son/mom adventure I can across a list of fun unusual things to see in Virginia.  I checked out the list and was excited to see that one of the things on the list was less than 30 minutes from where we would be staying while on our trip.  So you know I started planning it out!  So glad I did.  We both came away from this with a new admiration for what our great state has to offer. 

A little hidden gem, know as Channels State Forest, in Washington and Russell County VA is a place that feels like stepping back in time...at least that is how I felt.  The forest is a preserve that is home to "The Great Channels of Virginia sandstone outcrop" according to the website.


 

 

 
 
 
 
We both agreed that this had to be one of the coolest things we had visited/explored in Virginia.  It took us hiking about 4 miles (we think) to get here but beyond worth it.  And when I say hike I mean mostly uphill.  If you visit follow Rt. 80 from Abingdon to the top of the mountain.  There is a small parking area on the right that has a very small marker indicating it's a natural wildlife trail.  When we got there I actually passed it because I didn't see anything telling me it was for the forest.  We just took a chance went back and started hiking the trail.  We eventually came across a map indicating we were a few miles from "the Channels".  We only ran into other people once we actually got into the formations-and they were on their way out. 
 
Right before getting into the channels you come to an old fire tower that is no longer in use.  If you make the journey up to this area...be sure to check out the views...they are breath taking.
 

 
 
It was a special trip and I'm glad I got to make some magical memories with Tommy.
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Virginia Creeper Trail Revisited



Several years ago our family visited The Virginia Creeper Trail, in Abingdon Virginia.  I blogged about it here.  I absolutely loved that trip and for years wanted to go back.  Not only did I want to go back because it was beautiful and exciting but also because my oldest child wasn't able to go with us.  We came home telling him about how much fun it was but simply telling someone doesn't do it justice.  For years he promised to go back with me on a special son/mom trip.  I figured with him graduating and getting ready for collage that was just a pipe dream....so I was more that surprised when he said he wanted to take "our trip" following graduation instead of the traditional week at the beach with his friends. 

 
The Virginia Creeper Trail is a 34 mile rail to trail in Abingdon Virginia.  Both private and federal land make up the trail that passes straight through the town of Damascus.  And that is where Tommy and I started our adventure. 
 
About half way along the trail, Damascus hosts several bike/shuttle/adventure shops that can help you get out on the trail.  They aren't necessary though.  You can just hop on the trail and take off.  But depending on which direction you are going you might have a pretty big hill to climb!  What the shuttles do is allow you to be dropped off at the peak of the trail so that all you have to do is coast down.  And by coast I mean zoom!  Don't have a bike?  Don't worry.  Most of the shops rent bikes along with offering the shuttles.  We used Adventure Damascus for our shuttle-for the two of us it was $28 to be carried up to the top at Whitetop Station.  From there we coasted (zoomed) down back to Damascus.  I think, don't hold me to it, that it's 17 miles back down to the town. 
 


 
 



 
Most of the trail runs along the Whitetop Laurel River.  You cross 17 (again don't hold me to that number) trestles before getting back to Damascus from Whitetop Station.  The Appalachian Trail intersects with the trail at least once that we know of.  Tommy and I stopped biking for a while to hike a small portion of the AT.  I think both Tommy and I grinned the entire way down we were biking. 
 
 
After about 3 hours of biking/hiking we were back in town.  It occurred to both of us that it was so much fun we should get a shuttle right back up to the top and do it again!  But we had other adventures to get to!  I'll post more on that soon!
 
It was easily one of my favorite trips.  Thank you Tommy for keeping that promise.