Sunday, May 2, 2010

From mountain top to river valley

Off the back patio, behind the lodge at Hawks Nest State Park, is a terrific view of the New River valley. The average guest might be content to stand and stare. The courageous take a tram ride to the bottom.

Here's one of the little four passenger tram cars.

[click to enlarge]

Please note the lack of handles on the door. The operator pulls back on the latch, then inserts a large allen wrench into the hole where a handle once resided in order to let passengers on and off. Not an auspice beginning.

Our park ranger assured us, "If it were dangerous, they'd make you sign a waiver."
Oh, that is reassuring to someone with a fear of heights!

And here are the two sides of the station, where one boards a tram car and begins the descent.


Safely at the bottom, here's the lower level station.
and the huge gears that run the operation.

At the dock, we are met by Cap'n Ricky and his jet boat, which has two speeds - "idle" and "go very fast!"

Not the best day for a boat ride, the weather was cool and gray and cloudy, but we made the best of it. First a quick run downstream, to the dam, where I added Great Blue Heron and Wood Duck to my trip list.

Then, back up river, first running parallel with the railroad track, and the ubiquitous Paulownia ("Princess trees"), an accidental import from China, if you believe the tales,

then under the train bridge, complete with coal train!
This is my "Rainman" shot.

Our destination? A view of the famous New River Gorge bridge, from underneath.

We had to negotiate a few rapids, but no one fell out.
Cap'n Ricky takes every precaution, since he "can't swim a lick nor a stroke." Reassuring to have a boat captain who says, "If you hear me scream and see me jump out, grab a life preserver and follow me." He insists he has never had an accident, "because I've seen the paperwork involved." The only birds I saw on this end of the river were two Spotted Sandpipers.

Maybe that was because this is the captain's idea of a leisurely boat ride:
Next post: River front property - can I interest you in a holiday home?


Murr Brewster said...

Sign a waiver? Do you know what they do to coal miners in those parts?

NCmountainwoman said...

What an adventure. I'd have a hard time getting on board that tram though.

littleorangeguy said...

I have an irrepressible urge to ascend tall things (World Trade Centre, London Eye, the mountains of Banff, CN Tower --twice!) only to have second thoughts at the precise moment we've passed the point of no return. Thank GOD the walkway under New River Bridge was not yet open to pedestrians last week ...