An ordinary autumn day in Appalachia
This is the nursery that reseeded the North American continent after the last Ice Age. There are few other places on Earth as biologically diverse as our Appalachian hardwood forest. Like all ecosystems, its intricate balance can be thrown off kilter by human action, but it can also be amazingly resiliant if left undisturbed. Someone recently asked why some of us stay and fight so hard what often seems to be a losing battle against wholesale degradation of the land, air and water. One of the answers is right before your eyes.
I don’t know who took this photo. I found it on Jim Shaver’s Facebook photo page, but I think it may be another Troy Lilly shot, of ForestWander.com fame.
A view from Cheat Mountain by photographer Troy Lilly
Cheat Mountain is not just one big hill in West Virginia, but a high ridge that snakes more than 50 miles from the southernmost tip at Thorny Flats in Pocahontas County, where Snowshoe Mountain Resort takes advantage of the range’s highest elevations, to a northern point near Parsons, in Tucker County. Alpine and Nordic skiers know Cheat Mountain as Snowshoe, Elk River, Timberline, Canaan Valley, and White Grass ski areas.
The region was once the home of the largest red spruce forest south of Maine. The area pictured here was still an unbroken wilderness until just before the Civil War. It is still hardly populated, except for a few small towns and hamlets lining ancient Indian paths that are now two-lane roads.
West Virginia photographer Troy Lilly took this picture. Many thousands of people apparently know his work. I’ve just recently discovered him via friends on Facebook. I look forward to sharing more of his photos, as they come close to creating the feeling you get when you actually experience an Appalachian autumn evening.
Photographer Troy Lilly's view from Spruce Knob, West Virginia
According to his website, www.forestwander.com, photographer Troy Lilly hikes the mountains of West Virginia with his young son, Rusty, taking photos that he then offers free of charge to webmasters and publishers. This one turned up on the Facebook page of writer Jim Shaver. I thought he had taken the photo since there was no photo credit, so apologies to both Troy Lilly and Jim Shaver, and a big thank you to Jim for straightening me out.
Spruce Knob is in the extreme southwest corner of Pendleton County and is the highest point in West Virginia. What you see is the Spruce Knob National Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest, a favorite destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and seekers of solitude. There’s plenty of it here.