CAMPING IN WEST VIRGINIA
5. Day Three: Spruce Knob
After such a great night where both Mike and I were able to get some great images of the Milky Way at Spruce Knob in West Virginia, we woke up the next morning and went down to the lake. We hiked around the lake looking for other places to set up for that evening. While Mike and I were scouting locations, Bodie was trying to skip some rocks across the lake. No location stood out to us, so we decided that we would drive up to the peak of the mountain that evening to try and get some more Milky Way images. While hiking, we heard some people talking about a cave, and since we had all day to explore, we decided to see if we could find it.
We all piled into the car, and off we went to explore a new area of West Virginia that none of us had ever been to before. After a while of driving, we finally saw someone that was putting on a wetsuit. We stopped and asked him if he knew of any caves in the area. He told us we were close and then asked us if we had the proper caving equipment. We told him we did bring our head lights but no other gear because we were not planning on exploring any caves this camping trip. He told us to be safe and gave us a few last directions as he finished donning the rest of his caving equipment. After following the rest of his directions and finding a place to park, the three of us set out to find a cave.
After hiking a little bit, we finally saw a creek that looked like it ran into the hillside. Sure enough, as soon as we turned the corner, we saw the mouth of the cave. The creek ran straight into the cave, and we hiked into the cave about 100 yards along a sandbar until the creek encompassed the whole cave. Mike and I dropped our packs on the sandbar, grabbed our head lights, and waded into the frigid knee deep water. We did not get too far when the cave got so dark that even our head lights couldn't penetrate the blackness. We waded back to the sandbar, and there was another family there with a boy about the age of Bodie. Bodie and the boy had a great time splashing around in the creek. Mike and I quickly decided that we were going to return to the cave that evening to get our Milky Way pictures. After hanging out at the cave for a few hours, Bodie was ready for a nap after running, exploring, rock climbing, and swimming in the cave. The three of us headed back to camp to make dinner and to grab everything we needed for the evening.
We got back to the cave just before sunset. There were a few clouds in the sky but were moving fast and would be gone by the time the Milky Way would be visible. I set up my camera for a sunset picture, and Bodie and I went exploring to find the perfect location to shoot the Milky Way. I know I wanted one camera in the cave shooting the Milky Way as it traveled across the mouth, and my other camera, I decided to set up on the ridge above the cave to capture the Milky Way with the surrounding mountain ridges. Once our cameras were set up, all we had to do was sit, wait, and enjoy the clear night sky. Once again, we were blessed with a very vibrant Milky Way. At about 12:30 am, clouds started to roll in, so we packed up our gear and hiked back to our cars. One there, we took some selfies, and then called it a night. We drove back to camp and went to bed. The next morning, we woke up, broke camp, and headed home. Bodie and I had a great time exploring West Virginia. I want to thank Mike for inviting us along and showing some of his tricks for getting some amazing Milky Way images.