Total Pageviews

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hiking the Endless Wall Trail in West Virginia

The Endless Wall hiking trail is one of the most popular trails in West Virginia.  Its breathtaking views of the endless unbroken cliff line overlooking the New River Gorge makes this a must see.  The above picture is taken from Diamond Point Overlook and gives you an amazing view of the cliffs, and if you are lucky, some rock climbers or kayaks.
This trail is not far from the Canyon Rim Visitor Center, off of Edmond Road.  We parked at the Nuttall Trailhead parking area and started our walk.  This mostly easy trail loop is around 3 miles (with 0.5 mile on the road from Fern Creek Trailhead to Nuttall Trailhead). 
As with most unknown trails, this one was full of surprises.  One of them was this really cool looking rock bridge with a small stream running under it.  The path gets smaller taking you through tunnels of trees with long branches still covered with leaves, much like the trail at Long Point.

You will also cross these two large wooden beams made into another bridge, which I can only imagine are there because the area gets a little wet when it rains.  This day happened to be bright and dry so they kind of looked out of place in the middle of the woods.

Coming off the beams, you get to walk (or jump) along these large rock stepping stones leading to the start of a short climb up the mountain.
This path takes you along the edge of the cliffs with tons of short paths to the edge, allowing for some amazing views.  Right before you get to Diamond Point there is a large rock with several ladders attached.  This is the access path for climbers.  I'm not a climber (fear of heights) but there is over 1,000 different routes established for all who wants to be Spiderman for the day.  I've also read that climbers come from all over the United States just to try these walls and saw several different groups climbing over the weekend with cars in the parking lot from out of state.

On the way home we made our way back to Fayetteville and ate at Gumbo's Cajun Restaurant.  After living in New Orleans for years, I grew to love Cajun food and eat every chance I get.  If it ain't hot and spicy then it's not worth eating.  This was our second time at this restaurant and although Cajun food was on our minds we ended up with hamburgers.  After a full day of hiking, I was starving for carbs and gumbo just wasn't going to cut it.  
The hike was amazing and I look forward to going again to explore what is at the bottom of the ladder or maybe just to see the fall colors! 


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Poquito Moscato Wine "A Little Sweet & A Little Fizzy"

Poquito Moscato
5% Alc./Vol. 375 ML
Product of Spain
Some friends and I headed out one night to our local Pies and Pints for some pizza and adult beverage one night.  As per my custom when I have wine on the mind, I always ask the waiter for something light and sweet to try.  On this night, our rather cute waiter suggested Poquito Moscato and I was happy to give it a try.  Although the price was a little high for my taste (restaurant price), you can find it for around $6 in stores. 
The green glass bottle arrived and even though it reminded me of Mountain Dew, I was ready to see what sweet goodness awaited my first sip.  Don’t let the color of the bottle fool you because the wine itself has a light white coloring.  I’m not a big fan of peaches or apricots so when I aroma hit me, I wasn’t too impressed as to what I was about to drink.  I took a small sip of first, testing the waters, and the moment it touched my taste buds, I was sold!  The combination of the sweet fruits of peaches, pears and apricots made this a wonderful drink to pair with our amazing pizza.  I was able to maybe get a 1 ½ glasses out of the bottle and of course the table had to take a sample as well. 
This wine is made on the coastal region of Valencia, Spain.  And even though it is MADE in Spain, the winemaker is really a Scotsman, also known as “El Escoces Volante” (The Flying Scotsman). 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Stump Jump Wine

d'Arenberg The Stump Jump
This bottle of wine was supplied by a friend of mine when we stopped at our local Uncork and Create for a little painting fun.  My first reaction was regarding the label and how strange looking the bold lettering stood out.  Most labels get extremely fancy in order to draw the wine lover in enough to sample what is hidden inside.  However, this label looked rather plain and I might not have given it a second glance if I found it among others while shopping for a new bottle.  The words are all blocked and get smaller as you go down the label.  Little did I know that this was the look the company was going for when making the label.  The humor it seems is that if you can hold the bottle out at arm’s length and you can still correctly read the letters on the bottom line then you can have another glass.  This to me was priceless and I find it a great conversation to have while sharing a glass with your friends.

After the bottle was opened and my glass was poured, I immediately fell in love with the color.  It has a reddish purple color with a hint of cherry and oak smells.  The taste is a mix of fruity with a hint of chocolate and a kick of pepper.  I'm a sucker for anything cholcolate.

With most wines, the names are somewhat confusing and weird to say for me and this one is no different.  I had to do some research into the name alone.  "Stump Jump" comes from the South Australian invention, the Stump Jump plough.  What is this, you ask (I know I did).  Think plow.  The plough was invented by Richard Bowyer Smith around the late 19th century to save time and energy riding over stumps and roots as he prepared his mallee lands for cultivation.  "Stump Jump" is used as a way to say thanks since the lands were around McLaren Vale (Australian).
As listed on the d'Arenberg website, this wine is made in the traditional way all their red wines are, by the use of fermenting in headed-down open fermenters prior to the use of basket-presses.  It is left to mature before bottling in barriques and other casks.    
I always love being introduced to a new bottle of wine and have added this one to my favorite list.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

2014 Charleston City Run, Row, Ride Challenge from a Newbie!

The Charleston City Challenge was started in 2009 and consists of a 4.2 mile run from Magic Island to Daniel Boone Park, 4.2 mile kayak on the Kanawha River from Daniel Boone Park back to Magic Island and finished with a 16.8 mile bike ride from Magic Island to the Moose Lodge and back (x2). 

Since I moved back to West Virginia five years ago, I have been wanting to try this.  What a great way to try a mini triathlon?  In the past years, I've always had my son on race weekends but this year I made arrangements so I couldn't use that as an excuse.  

Finding time for training was a little hard.  Being a single mother, finding a few free hours to run, boat or ride every day was almost impossible.  There was always a cub scout meeting, baseball practice/game, daily chores and fixing dinner...kid has to eat every day, right?  So I spent my lunch hour at the gym, squeezing in as much training as I could.  It didn't help that I came down with a cold a few weeks before this event and really lost a lot of time training.  And I am also still suffering from a bruised/broke (who knows other then it hurts!) tailbone from the Wild Warrior Challenge but I thought I could handle the 16.8 mile bike ride....little did I know. 

The day before the event, I was really nervous.  My stomach felt sick and I had to force myself to eat because I knew I needed lots of carbs.  I went into the race with the mind set...JUST FINISH.  I didn't care what place I was in, I just wanted to be able to cross that finish line without giving up.  Giving up isn't in my vocabulary (Navy Strong and all that Jazz).  I knew I would drag my butt over the finish line and nothing would stop me. 

In prep for the event, I purchased a few new items.  I've never really tracked my miles or time before but I always see other athletes wearing this fancy GPS watches or carrying their phones with GPS apps on them.  I looked into purchasing one but after seeing the price of some...I changed my mind.  And I really don't like apps on my phone so that option was out as well.  Last week I was shopping at my local Wal-Mart and came across the Sportline Cardio GPS watch.  It was priced at $80 and I still couldn't see paying that much for a watch to train with so I walked away but the watch kept calling my name.  The day before the event, I went back to Wal-Mart and found this watch marked down to $60 and there was only one left.  I told myself it was waiting for me so I bought it.  It was simple to set up and worked amazingly.  The only thing I didn't like was the size of it.  This sucker was HUGE.  I had to put the band on the very last setting and it was still moving around on my arm.
It may not be 100% right since the race is supposed to be 25.2 miles and at the end it showed 23.95 miles but I think they did change the course a little so it may have cut the miles down some.  I will have to test it at my next race.  I did love seeing my time and how many calories I burned.  You can change it to tell you different things but these three were the ones I was looking for most.

My friend also let me use his extra pair of toe socks.  I've never wore them but I kept getting blisters on my middle toes while running and he said that these would stop that.  Sure enough, I didn't have one blister on my feet after completing the full race.  I LOVE them and he will not be getting these socks back (with his permission).  Before I put them on, I also put Vaseline between my toes to give them that extra cushion so they wouldn't rub against anything.  Laugh if you must because I sure did when I read I should be doing this for long runs.  I kept seeing Burt Reynolds swimming in vaseline in the movie Striptease.    

I also bought a new mountain bike.  Since I really knew nothing about street riding, I didn't think much about the bike.  I do love mountain biking and didn't want to purchase a bike that I would only be using for a race and thought....a bike is a bike...right?  WRONG!!!  Don't fall for this and step away from the mountain bikes.  My friend said I could use his street bike since we are about the same size and weight but I blew it off with an "I will be fine.  It's only 16.8 miles."  Yes, I was stupid and more on this a little later. 

The night before, I packed my kayak and bike on the car and laid everything out I would need for each part of the race.  Run stuff in one pile, kayaking stuff in another and bike last.

  1. Dri-More Wicking Technology Capri, Tank and Sports bra
  2. Skechers Go Run Shoes (love these)
  3. Toe socks!
  4. MP3 player (with Eye of the Tiger and I'm All About the Base freshly downloaded)
  5. GPS Watch
  6. Race number
  7. Gummy Protein snacks
  1. Kayak
  2. Paddle
  3. Life Jacket
  4. Full Water Bladder
  5. Fingerless Gloves (FYI...don't forget to use these)
  1. Bike
  2. Helmet
I also packed a cooler full of water and snacks for afterwards.  I learned my lesson from the Quarter Marathon when they ran out of water and I almost drank from the local stream because I was so thirsty. 

The morning of the race, I got up about 5:30 am and it was pouring rain.  Not to let that get me down, I got dressed, ate a banana and drank a glass of water before leaving.  Dropping my kayak off was the first step and there was already tons of people there, in the rain, unloading their boats.  It's first come first serve as how close you get to the water.  I had a pretty nice spot not to far away.  After that, I made my way to the starting line and drop off spot for the bike.  The parking lot was under a bridge which made for some protection from the rain as I got the bike off the car and gathered everything to go.  

Riding the bike to the drop off spot, I started to doubt myself because my tailbone was already showing signs of pain.  But I blew it off, downed a few Advil and told myself not to use that as an excuse and to suck it up cause it was only 16 miles!  

Rain was still coming down but not to bad.  I met up with some gym and co-workers and listened to them tell me stories of the previous years.  Nerves were getting worse and I started to worry about the bike part more. Before I knew it we were lining up and the count down had started.  We were off before I even knew what happened to the extra hour I had when I got there.  My friend brought my son down so he could see me run and they both snapped a few pictures of the start.  I was waving to my kiddo as he had his video camera attached his head.

I felt pretty good during the running part.  I kept a good pace (for me) and just enjoyed the miles without stressing to go faster.  I knew there wasn't any way I could keep up with these athletes who do these races all the time.  Nobody was walking like the 5k races!  I'm always slow to start and then able to speed up around the second mile.  I was even able to pass a few people which did put a little peep in my step.

By the time I got to the kayaks, there was still close to 30 boats waiting.  I felt pretty good about this as well and got my boat in fast and took off.  Kayaking is my thing and I love the water.  I hoped to be able to play catch up in this section.  And to some degree, I did.  Half way there I remembered that I forgot to put my gloves on but refused to stop to get them.  Thanks to this, I ended up with some nice size blisters on my thumbs.  But I didn't care.  It was a blast playing on the water.  I did, however, slow down to talk to a few people.  There was a guy from the Coast Guard and we talked for maybe a mile before I remembered I was in a race!  I started speeding up then.  There was also this other guy that was in a whitewater kayak and was having issues getting the boat to go left.  Every time he tried to paddle it would turn him right...into the rocks.  I hung back with him for a few just talking smack before I dug in to finish the section.

The bike section was left and I was still feeling pretty good at this point.  I ran up the hill and grabbed my bike. Put my helmet on and also remembered the gloves.  Off I went with the Coast Guard guy right in front of me.  He had caught up to me as I was getting out of the water.  The bike section was a pain in the ass...literally.  After the first few miles, the pain was horrible but I sucked it up and continued on.  The faster I peddled the slower I seemed to be going.  People were passing me left and right and I had no idea why.  Of course I was on my mountain bike and they were on street bikes....there is a difference people!!!!  I made it through the first round but could already see the people disappearing as I was making my second trip.  It was really nice to hear everyone cheering me on as they passed me though and gave me the will to keep fighting.  

By the time I made it to the 12th mile, I was numb.  I couldn't even feel from the waist down and tried to stand to take pressure off my tailbone but couldn't.  The pain was worse every time I tried to change position.  So I stayed in the same position for the last four miles and only kept going by my will to not give up.  A police car started following me, slowly moving with me as I made my way, painfully to the finish line.  It was rather creepy and made me feel like a criminal.  I will not lie but I did almost give up but I remembered how far I came and only had a few more stupid, very long, very painful, miles to go.  I slowly and very painfully made it one mile at a time.  I'm sure the cops were saying, "Can't you go any faster" but what they didn't know was that I really have no idea how I kept going.  The pain was worse then when I first got the injury.  
As I climbed the last hill, knowing the finish line was within sight, I almost cried like a baby.  The smile on my sons face was the first thing I saw as I crossed that finish line.  I sent a prayer thanking God for the hand on my shoulder and gladly crawled off the bike and to the nearest grassy hill, stretching out on my side and drank some water while I waited for pain to stop.  

My friend looked at my bike and told me the tires were almost flat.  Now I know why it felt like I was riding through mud and people were passing me like crazy.  I came close to tossing the bike into the river but changed my mind.  It IS a mountain bike and I liked how it rides.  I will be looking into a new street bike though.  

With the help of a friend, I was able to get all my stuff packed up and headed home.  My son asked me what took so long and I just laughed thinking to myself, it almost beat me but I knew I would have crawled across that finish line if I had to.  

I may have came in last place but there is only one place I can go from there.....up. 


Long Point Trail in Fayetteville, West Virginia

Over the weekend, a group of us decided to brave the 20 degree weather and take a hike along the Long Point Trail which is located in the beautiful city of Fayetteville, West Virginia.  This is not an easy trail to find but it is well worth the getting lost on back roads getting there.  It is also a long drive from my home but I still got up early and made the trip just so I could experience this amazing view the group kept talking about. 
A nice blanket of snow greeted us at the start and I have to admit that I love being the first one to walk down a path, leaving my footprints "in the sand."  The sun was bright and helped warm us up the further we ventured into the unknown...well, unknown to me.  Joe, one of the guys with us, knew the path pretty well so we just followed his lead.

After a little over a mile we started making our way down the hill on a path covered with tree branches, making it look like a secret tunnel.  Of course, I think I was the only one that thought this but I do have a wonderful imagination and it was pretty cool.  I will admit that I'm glad it wasn't summer time and I wasn't fighting the spiderwebs I'm sure are hanging down from these baby's just waiting to catch dinner.  


We were so high in the mountains that the sun was just reaching the trees and was leading us to something amazing.

And there she is...the New River Gorge Bridge.  I'm celebrating a little cause I have a fear of heights and I'm REALLY close to the edge of that drop off.  You can't tell but there is another smaller rock behind me that everyone was trying to get me to get on and take a picture...not happening.  I was there long enough for a picture and right back to a safer distance. 

We decided to take a longer path back, which had us winding up and down the mountain, jumping over streams, crawling through mud caves (OK, I made that up).  It was freezing a little in the shade from the trees but the up and down the path took us kept the body temp up.  There is no "path" to get to the above view.  Joe, lets call him our guide at this point, just happened to know where to turn and which tree branch to duck under.  Fighting trees and bushes, smacking each other with branches as we went.  I was starting to think Joe was leading us to his hidden cave.  I was kicking myself for leaving my knife in the car when out popped this little guy from behind a tree asking us if we were there to see the view.  I relaxed enough to start following his footsteps to this cliff overlooking the New River and just making out the bridge in the background.

This hidden path can be found on the same trail leading to the Kaymoor Top Trail head.  We hiked a little ways down and ran across some guys ice climbing before decided the rocks were to slippery to continue to the top of the 800+ steps down leading to the ruins of the town of Kymoor and its mine.  We took a different path out and ended up doing a large circle back to our cars.  

Before heading home, we decided to stop off in the town of Fayetteville and grab something to eat at the Cathedral Cafe.  The food was good but I was distracted by all the little hidden things the place had to offer.  Our table was beside this book tree which had my attention from the moment we sat down. 

I also couldn't take my eyes off the stain glass windows which allowed most of the light into the room.  Time moved fast and it was time to start my drive home. 

As I was cruising home, something off to the left grabbed my attention.  I saw a bunch of tiny little rocks that looked round from the road and I had to stop to take a closer look.  I discovered this cool place that must be hidden during the summer when the leaves are on the trees and blocking your view from the road.  There is this huge rock leading up to the water edge and tons of boulders laying in the water.  I'm kind of excited to revisit this place later in the summer and see how the fishing is.