Today’s hike started at Sleepy Creek Lake (WV) as we headed downhill in the general direction of Spruce Pine Hollow. To put things in perspective, we were roughly 18 miles from the C&O Canal in Hancock, Md. Why, you may ask, is the C&O Canal Adventures gang so far from the towpath–again? Candee is preparing to walk the Camino de Santiago next year, and she needs a bit more uphill training than the relatively flat C&O provides.
Because of the waning daylight, we only managed to go 2-3 miles on the Tuscarora Trail today, but we’ve seen enough of it lately to realize that the scenery is spectacular. This power line is about a mile below the lake, and generally electric lines are a huge turnoff when taking a walk in the woods. However, the dull browns and leafless trees of late autumn gave the view a certain je ne c’est quoi.
Roughly two miles below the lake, the trail leads to the Meadow Branch of Sleepy Creek. The stream feeds Sleepy Creek Lake and has its confluence with Sleepy Creek near WV Rt. 9. The water below the lake looks a bit like really weak tea, which is a sign of acid content. A friend once told me that the branch was once stocked with trout, but the water quality didn’t meet the DNR’s standards, causing the stocking to cease several years ago. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful, fast-flowing stream that adds a lot to the hike.
One literally has to be on top of this sign in order to see that it shows the direction to Meadow Branch Trail and Rocky Ford. It seems like an inconvenience, but the weathering actually gives the sign character. The blue blaze (as we know by now) marks the direction of the Tuscarora Trail, and the red blaze shows that it shares the same path as the Meadow Branch Trail. This seems strange, but trails such as the Tuscarora and Appalachian merge with other paths and roads along the way. In fact, both meet up with and follow the C&O Canal for several miles.
I can’t say that I’m an expert in trail markers, but the one in the picture above (top blaze to the left of the bottom) marks the point of a left-hand turn. If the top blaze is directly above the bottom one, it’s a sign that the hiker should be aware of something coming up on the trail. Likewise, one blaze above two is the start of the trail, and two above one is the end of the trail. I’m so confused!