Half Adventure, Half Terror

In the last three weeks, I was able to visit an unusual and fascinating natural area in West Virginia three times – Cranberry Glades in the Monongahela National Forest.  The swampy bogs in this area host a variety of wildflowers including native orchids.

The first visit involved an indoor slideshow of native orchids at the nearby Nature Center, followed by a guided tour through the bogs.  There was only one problem – it rained so much that I didn’t dare take my camera along.  The boardwalk was under water in some places.  Still, it was quite magical walking through this area in the rain.  Water all around us, gurgling, splashing, dripping…

Yew Creek

Lush, green vegetation was sprinkled with lavender orchids, yellow swamp candle flowers, tall, delicate meadow rue, a profusion of white-creamy elderberry flowers, and bright red bee balm.

Since I couldn’t take any pictures, I returned by myself a few days later, during the first break in the rain.  I arrived at 10 in the morning, the first car in the parking area.  The half-mile long circular boardwalk was dry by now and made it easy to explore different sections of the bog – a wide open area and a bog forest.  After a while, I could hear more cars arriving and other people on the boardwalk behind me.  So I felt quite safe even though I was by myself.

Cranberry Glades BogOther segments of the boardwalk were partially covered with large ferns giving it an almost tropical feel.

fern-lined board walkHere is a selection of the wildflowers I found that day:

My third visit happened just a few days ago. I was on my way home from a business trip and was so close to the bogs that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stop by, if only for a short visit. It was already after 5 pm when I arrived at the parking area. There were no other people around, no other cars. I knew the park office would be closed by now.
It occurred to me that being here all alone probably was not a good idea. What if my car got stolen (signs warned that there were “common thieves” around and to not leave any valuables in the car)? I had no cell phone reception and did not even have any hiking shoes with me, only my street shoes.
Putting my cautious mind on hold, I grabbed my camera and entered the bog forest. It was almost eerily quiet this time, very little bird song and just a few insect sounds. I noticed that all of my senses were immediately on high alert. Today was different.

I found a few turtlehead flowers


and an Ebony Jewelwing damselfly sporting delicate black wings and an iridescent green body:

Ebony jewelwing damselfly

The bog forest opened into a clearing

boardwalk in open area

This was where I heard a loud snorting sound coming from behind some tall shrubs:

bog with tall trees

(The picture of this very area was taken on my previous visit as I had no more desire to take pictures in this tense moment).

I stopped to look wondering whether it was a deer. I heard movement from a large animal body behind those bushes. Then I saw a flash of black fur – definitely not a deer!
By now, I had turned around to get back to my car. I knew I shouldn’t run so I walked steady and fast, my heart beating even faster. I was strangely clear-headed, not panicked at all. That was a bear warning me to not come any closer. Was he coming after me? I kept looking over my shoulders keenly aware that I had nothing except my camera to defend myself with – hardly an effective weapon against a bear.

I was very relieved when I stepped out of that bog forest, saw my car, and found my keys in my pants pocket.

Sanctuary from the wild forces of nature!

I will be back – but not alone. I suppose I have to be grateful to that bear for teaching me an important lesson.

For more info on the Cranberry Glades area: http://www.pocahontascountywv.com/cranberry-glades-nature-center

The Weekly Photo Challenge is: Half and Half.

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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30 Responses to Half Adventure, Half Terror

  1. Tish Farrell says:

    Oh that was a bit too exciting, Annette. But what a wonderful place. So many beautiful photos, but the dragonfly is simply exquisite.


  2. Aggie says:

    Awesome adventure! Look forward to report and photos of your next visit.


  3. Oh, my, that would have stopped me in my tracks, too, and hightailed it out of there. But this place looks absolutely mystical and beautiful! How wonderful to walk around it seeing all those beautiful sights/smells/sounds and feel the immenseness of natures…how truly small we are in comparison. Really lovely photos and the dragonfly is amazing!


    • Yup – hightailing is the word 🙂 And, yes, it is a magical place, a world of its own, entirely ruled by the forces of nature. I had never seen that kind of dragonfly and was lucky it sat still long enough so I could get a few pictures.


  4. wilsonrhet says:



  5. Barneysday says:

    Beautiful pictures and of course, the bear encounter certainly added some excitement. you were wise to heed the warning that bear gave you. Smart. We are having sightings of Mountain lions here. That certainly puts an edge to my morning walks.


    • Nothing like having some heavy-duty predator around to sharpen our senses!


      • Barneysday says:

        Sure makes me put an extra spring into my step. On my walk today, I’m trying to listen for rustling in the weeds and trees, as I’m walking along. Too much effort!!!


        • Makes you feel truly alive…I encountered a mountain lion on our property, and we stared at each other for a long time. Then it slipped away into the tall tan grasses and disappeared like a ghost. They could be anywhere without us knowing…


          • Barneysday says:

            Annette, you are special for having stared one down!

            Around here the consensus is by the time you actually see the lion, it likely is too late. They are an endangered species in Calif, but with the drought, they are coming further down the mountains and closer to civilizations looking for food and water.


  6. What a wonderful story and adventure you created with your words and photos. This bog areas seems very special. I love the feeling of being alone, alert and alive in nature preserves. You’ve also stirred memories and feelings about the Shenandoah mountain area. I grew up in VA, but now live in AR. Thanks and I’m glad you’re safe Annette!


    • So you know this region well; where did you grow up – in the Blue Ridge or West of the Shen. Valley?
      Yes, believe me, I am very relieved to be safe. While writing the blog and inserting the pics, it felt like I was re-living the experience there.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I grew up in northern VA, but took trips along the Blue Ridge Parkway all the way down to Smokey Mountain National Park, and other beautiful state parks in SW VA. I don’t know it well, but visited a few special places. I hadn’t been to the blog, but some of the plants and geography remind me of that area. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow! That was a bit of excitement, wasn’t it? Glad you are okay! Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous. I especially like the dragonfly. West Virginia has always seemed like a magical place to me, so very green! Since I grew up in a desert I longed for green! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this with us!


  8. lolaWi says:

    the bear encounter was a bit scary but i’m glad you’re okay! 🙂 lovely place; so lush and serene! beautiful photographs and awesome macros, Annette! stunning dragonfly shot 🙂


  9. Mabel Kwong says:

    That must certainly have been a bit of a scare at the end. Definitely smart of you to have walked and not run…who knows what might have come running after you if you did. Always keep close to the car or the main road with a lot of cars, that’s what I tell myself when I go alone anywhere. Beautiful photos. So green everywhere and the flowers look delicate yet so beautiful. Worth the trip back, yes, but be extra careful even with someone else the next time round 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Anarette says:

    Beautiful pictures! I often take my underwater camera on trips, it is a simple one, but it does the trick.


  11. What beautiful nature! love the ferns!


  12. asqfish says:

    I guess the wildlife draws the line when you enter their domain:) I am glad you got out intact, I can feel your heart beating as you walked “fast”!


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