Apple Orchard Loop

Garmin data:

Note:  Garmin mapped version goes to a vaguely marked but rideable dirt road and an unopened interstate.   Good terrain but maybe hard to find.  This is in the early section coming from Moorefield on Walnut Ridge Road heading west.   If you continue on Walnut to Patterson Creek Road the ride maps out similar and maybe more logically.

The Apple Orchard Loop comes off the back side of the barn and heads west crossing the next ridge beyond Moorefield and landing in a lightly traveled valley on Patterson Creek Road .

Heading north on the state road it’s a smooth riverside glide.  Scenic stuff: old schools, barns and mills.  There is usually a prevailing tail wind.  This section follows the ridge that will be traversed back to the Apple Orchards and Twin Mountain Road .  A bonus is that once up top and heading back or south the wind isn’t as big or noticeable.  What forms a current in the lower valley seems to skip across the ridge top, especially since, in what is a unique feature, the mountain road is actually in a valley.  It resembles a bowl on top of the mountain, thus ‘ Twin Mountain Road. ‘.  Not something I’ve seen before.

Once out of the valley the road step climbs up before hitting the orchards, turning to dirt and topping off six or seven miles later.  The first section has some houses and a permanent sign that says ‘Mud Bog Here.’

Saturday we could hear the engines rev.   This was the once a year weekend for the event and the crew of Danny K, Chris C, Hood Ornament and Evil Steve (who is maybe more quietly diabolical then actually evil – I’m not sure – but that is what they call him)  were down for checking the motorized action.   We got a discounted just-passing-through-bikers group rate and pedaled conspicuously into the mix.  It was full blown drag racing in the mud.  ATV’s and jacked rigs.  Maybe a cat 3 version of monster truck.  A solid mid-climb diversion as well as reminder of the endless and intense variety of subcultures.

The road to the orchards is imposing and grand.  After some small switchbacks and ascension to the first plateau it is basically straight.   You can see it in front of you.   There is a short steep wall early on that kicks matters up out of the trees and into the meadows where the apples grow.  The first half is paved.  The following dirt is graded well but rough in spots and long.

The top has been quiet every time I have been there.  It has a bunch of farm houses widely scattered.   An old red school house.  A big main house and a warehouse looking structure.  It is peaceful, remote and resembles a very well kept ghost town.

Today there was a tent party.  Lots of folks in what turned out to be a family reunion.  I met three rambunctious sisters in their sixties who said they grew up here.  I wondered why anyone would move off.  It is remote but not anymore remote then a lot of other inhabited WV mountains.   They all said they married off.  Went where their men went, which were scattered towns not that far from where we were.  They said they went to the school house (pointing) and that there were 19 girls and just one boy on the mountain.  All sisters.   He was the bosses son and they used to throw apples at him.  Images and scenarios abound.

There is a flat section up high before the dirt road starts dropping off. When it reconnects with the pavement you are STILL up on a ridge before landing in Old Fields and the first store stop 54 miles deep.

The rest is comparatively level and calm except as always, with west side RTR treks the back side climb looms.  Nine valley miles and then a muscle and mind testing seven to the warm pine and solid walnut oak of The Lost River Barn.

I topped out there feeling a combination of exhaustion relief and satisfaction even though I have done it many times.  It doesn’t get easier.  The sun was hitting sharp and lean against an early fall like sky.  I snapped some pics of a shot I have shot before.  Like the ride it is the same but each time slightly different.  The same distance, the same route and the same vista but always, a varied tone and hue.  It changes.  It just does.

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