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Getting away and reconnecting with nature

Every once in a while, as we become burdened by the trials of our daily lives, it’s good to take a bit of a breather and, if possible, reconnect with nature and those around us.

Last Friday, my mom asked if I wanted to do a day trip to our state’s other panhandle. Specifically, the plan was visit two of our state’s better known state parks; Canaan Valley and Blackwater Falls. It had, unfortunately, been several years since my last visit, and we figured with peak leaf color being reached it was probably a good weekend.

We decided to get up a little earlier Sunday morning in order to make a stop at Coopers Rock on our way, which ended up being brief because of a heavy fog in the valley. Another stop on the way home found a crowd of people at the overlook and not enough masks for my taste.

Driving into Maryland and then back into West Virginia, there were many familiar sites, but also a few new locations that have popped up in the last several years. A long line of windmills dotted the ridgeline as we got closer to the towns of Thomas and Davis.

Approaching those communities, I saw some new businesses and quite a few people loitering along the main roads. It was still a bit early Sunday morning, and apparently, some of the local restaurants and cafes are known for their breakfasts.

We avoided a few deer going into the valley, and the colors along the road were brilliant, with trees filled with yellows, oranges and reds. In Canaan Valley, there’s a small parking area along the main road of the park. In my youth, the family would go there and park close to dusk and watch deer emerge from the trees and brush. Back then, people would sneak them sliced apples and other goodies in an attempt to get them closer. It’s not something I recommend these days, especially with the fine implemented for those caught feeding the wild animals.

There were people at the parking spot, with some planning to hike some nearby trail and others pulling over with cameras in their hands. A short detour to another area of the park found the cabins, which could lend themselves to another trip in the future.

At Blackwater Falls, we made our way to the Lindy Point overlook trail. At just under 1 mile, it’s not a bad walk through the wooded area and is a popular attraction. The falls themselves didn’t disappoint, as if they ever could.

If it hadn’t started raining, we probably would have stayed longer, or possibly found another destination on the little adventure, but I waited a bit too long to pull out my poncho and was getting drenched. Plus, I had to work the next day.

I know I’ve written several times about the wonders of our West Virginia state parks, but it bears repeating. They are a reminder of why West Virginia is known as “wild and wonderful.” Varying in size, our state parks are filled with natural beauty, recreation opportunities and connections to our history.

Whether you go for a day or a long weekend, they’re great to get away from the daily stresses of our lives and reconnect with ourselves and the world around us. Also, there are opportunities to visit many of them no matter the time of year.

It’s something I encourage everyone to do whenever the opportunity might arise.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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