Rock of Ages

Bowie on the Glade Creek Boulder

This past weekend I was in southern West Virginia, for my grandmother’s memorial service. My grandmother lived 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 visited  my grandmother, I spent 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

Two winters ago, 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 made when it fell and how long it’ll stay here.

My grandmother passed away at a feisty 91. If I live as long as she did 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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8 Responses to Rock of Ages

  1. ritaroberts says:

    These pics of Glade Creek are so Xmassy. Your post about Kettle Rock is so dramatic.I just love it. I thought the mountains here in Crete were high but maybe Kettle Rock beats them.

  2. Tammy says:

    So much better Rock of Ages then the Tom Cruise flick!

  3. Such beautiful scenery. You are so fortunate to have a serene place to remember your grandmother by.

    BTW, heading to Shenandoah SP in two weeks for a hike on Old Rag Mountain. Interested?

  4. Sad about the salamanders disappearing. Mining does a lot of damage that is not always obvious. But the place is still very beautiful. Maybe in 50 years we will have learned how to take care of our wonderful beautiful planet. Let’s hope so!

  5. kzackuslheureux says:

    Beautiful. I’m sorry for your Grandmother’s passing. What a gift to have such a long-lasting patriarch. Best!

  6. amazingved says:

    beautiful photos…

  7. Pingback: Thrills & Spills in West Virginia’s New River Gorge « Travels with the Blonde Coyote

  8. beeseeker says:

    Some superb photographs here, confess to loving the Little Tree and the Rhododendron snow and Bowie shots especially.

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