New River Gorge
New River Gorge is in West Virginia. It is near the southern end of the state. It is a part of route 19 just outside of Fayetteville, West Virginia and crosses the New River. It is a long bridge of dark brown arches and pillars that supports four lanes of traffic; two north and two south. Steel pillars and arches stretches 3,030 feet; 876 feet above the valley, river, and railroad tracks far below. The arch itself is 1700 feet long and is quite impressive.
We stopped at the bridge after traveling route 60 on an accidental detour. We wanted to take photographs from the different viewing platforms. We took some pictures from the upper platform and the view of the bridge from the underside was spectacular. The dark brown span was beautiful and graceful in the late afternoon light that was muted by the occasional drizzle.
Walking to the lower platform, we could hear the pattering of the rain in the leaves above us and feel an occasional drop or two falling from the foliage. Descending the stairs, we went deeper into the valley along the steep slope. One hundred and seventy-one steps downward were only broken by several landings to allow people to catch their breath as they climbed back to the top. One of the landings had a bench to rest the legs as well.
We made it to the bottom platform just in time. We had just taken a few photographs before a fast moving fog came flowing in to envelope the whole bridge in its thick white blanket. We got a few as the fog flowed down the valley making the bridge look ethereal before actually enveloping the graceful structure. Just before it disappeared, the fog actually enhanced the beauty of the underside of the long arch and pillars.
The observation decks did give fantastic views of the bridge. There was just enough shape in curves to the foliage that followed the shape in the arch. It intensified the curves and made the pillars seem more solid.
There was just a short time once we made the bottom platform to take some photographs before the fog covered everything. While the bridge was still visible, we took a series of shots that allowed us to gather on film the progression of the fog as it nibbled at the understructure, climbed to the roadway’ and in its slow and inexorable advance it consumed the bridge. We could see the bridge no more.
Now for the climb back to the top; step, step, step, landing… step, step, step, landing… step, step, step, landing…pant, pant, pant. One hundred, seventy-one steps back to the top. It was still drizzling lightly as we headed back to the truck. The fog seemed to like the gorge and stayed over the bridge.
After a short drive, we stayed the night at a nearby campsite in a nice cabin. In the morning we were to meet and have breakfast with Norman and Joy Johnston.