18 hours from now I’ll be with 3 of my good buddies, hiking through the Dolly Sods Wilderness.  The Dolly Sods Wilderness, as most people just call it Dolly Sods,  is part of the Monongahela National Forest.  It is a rocky, high-altitude plateau with sweeping vistas and lifeforms normally found much farther north in Canada. The distinctive landscape of Dolly Sods is characterized by stunted (“flagged”) trees, wind-carved boulders, heath barrens, grassy meadows created in the last century by logging and fires, and sphagnum bogs that are much older.  The name derives from an 18th century German homesteading family — the Dahles — and a local term for an open mountaintop meadow — a “sods”.

In 1943 and ’44, as part of the West Virginia Maneuver Area, the U.S. Army used the area as a practice artillery and mortar range and maneuver area before troops were sent to Europe to fight in World War II. Cabin Mountain and Blackbird Knob served as designated targets. Some of the artillery and mortar shells (60 mm and 81 mm rounds) shot into the area still exist there. (In 1997, a work crew extensively surveyed trail locations and known campsites for shells.[4] Workers made 32,594 excavations along the trails and discovered and detonated 14 live mortar shells, most along the Fisher Spring Trail. All were exploded on site. Two others were inert. They also found numerous railroad spikes, iron tools and horseshoes.)

We’ll be spending two full days hiking, camping, testing out new gear and enjoying the incredible landscape all around:

That and avoiding live artillery shells!!

Have a great weekend everyone!  Happy trails!

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