Friday, September 14, 2012

The Ab Fab WV Weekend Part II

After leaving Green Bank we went straight to Cass, just down the road, where we hoped to get a ride up Cheat Mountain on a steam train. We couldn't have timed it better. The train was ready and waiting for us with just a few minutes until it left.
This guy kindly posed for me in his office, everyone was so friendly here. And then we heard the whistle blow letting us know it was time for everyone to be aboard. We hopped onto Shay #5 which is the second oldest train operating here, built in 1905. It was pushing the carriages up the mountain which gave us a great opportunity to see the engine working from the front as we chugged along. We also had our carriage to ourselves, which was unexpected. Of course this train will be packed for the fall colors.
Black smoke coughed out of the stack and it was heaven to smell the coal burning as the whistle shrilled. The climb was quite steep in places with the incline too much at 11% for the engine to travel in a straight line so we had to 'switchback in 2 places, the railway zig zagging up the side of the hill. At the top of Cheat Mountain the view was amazing and a recreated logging camp from the 1940's was in place with the machinery and lodging on display.
We only had about 15 minutes at the Whittaker camp before the whistle blew again letting us know it was time to clamber back on board for the downhill trek. The views were astounding across the mountains and despite the sound of the train chugging, it was peaceful.
Our handsome guard who's been on the job for the past 8 years. It was his responsibility to control the brakes all the way back down our steep descent.
Back at the bottom the engine filled up with much needed water and waited for its next load of passengers while we strolled over to the gift shop.
There we saw 'roadkill' on sale. Hmmm, not really taken with that.... I did try some venison sausage though which was delicious.
We left Cass and started making our way northeast. Going up over the mountains Scott spotted an almost hidden side road promising a scenic lookout. We traveled along a dusty and bumpy track with the vegetation closing in on our sides the deeper we went until after a couple of miles we came to a clearing. A wooden sign indicated that there was a half mile loop path leading to the views. The path looked intriguing with the thickest moss I'd ever seen carpeting the floor and tall rocks cropping up on the sides.
The view was worth the detour. And once again we had the place to ourselves. It would've been great to have sat for a while savoring the scenery but we had to continue our day and the hours were slipping by too quickly.
We later came across Seneca Rocks, the peaks crowned by the last rays of the setting sun. None of us wanted to consider an uphill rocky climb at this time of day so we just stocked up with drinks and snacks and started to head home.
The daylight faded as we left the mountains behind. I don't think any of us wanted to really go back to the bustle of northern Virginia but none of us mentioned it. We'd definitely had our Ab Fab Weekend and as though wishing us a  'farewell until next time', the sky was lit for one final time with a shooting star.

No comments: