Rock of Ages

Bowie on the Glade Creek Boulder

This weekend I’m in southern West Virginia, visiting family. My grandmother lives in a golf course community called Glade Springs. It’s a very manicured place and not to my taste, but on the edge of this community are woods. Walk into the woods and soon you come to a precipice. Find a way down and at the bottom of the gorge you’ll discover Glade Creek.

Whenever I visit my grandmother, I spend most of my free time down by this creek. As a child, I hunted salamanders here, discovering a different variety under every rock. These days, I overturn dozens of stones and find nothing. Upstream is coal-mining country and in my 30-year lifetime, this creek has changed.

Glade Creek

My favorite spot along Glade Creek is a giant quartzite boulder an hour-long hike from my grandmother’s place. The boulder is huge and smooth and sits in the sun above a cool little swimming spot. This is one of my favorite sitting spots on Earth:

Boulder Self Portrait, Bowie sitting, Dio swimming

Butterfly & Lichen

Wolf Spider

Little Tree

Last winter, when we were here for Christmas, I took my family for a hike to visit the boulder. Glade Creek is never more beautiful than in the snow.

Christmas Hike at Glade Creek

Crossing Glade Creek

Snowy Rhododendron Bowie

Snowy Boulder

I wonder how long this boulder has sat here in this creek, when it crashed down from the ridge above, what kind of sound it must have made when it fell and how long it’ll stay here.

My grandmother is a feisty 91. If I live as long as she has and have the wherewithal to visit this boulder a half-century from now, I bet the woods and the creek and the world outside the gorge will have changed, but that this boulder will still be exactly the same.

Check out another previous boulder post: My Favorite Rock.

About theblondecoyote

Mary Caperton Morton is a freelance science and travel writer with degrees in biology and geology and a master’s in science writing. A regular contributor to EARTH magazine, where her favorite beat is the Travels in Geology column, she has also written for the anthologies Best Women's Travel Writing 2010 and Best Travel Writing 2011. Mary is currently based in western Colorado. When she’s not at the computer she can usually be found outside -- hiking, skiing, climbing mountains and taking photographs. Visit her website at
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1 Response to Rock of Ages

  1. Pingback: Into the Ojito Wilderness! « Travels with the Blonde Coyote

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