West Virginia is about as Appalachia as Appalachia gets. For those of you who don’t know, Appalachia isn’t just a mountain range… it’s an adjective that describes the culture of this sliver of a region in the USA. And of all the states the Appalachian Mountains pass through, West Virginia is the only one enveloped completely by these rolling hills. It’s a small state. It borders several other states and isn’t too far from big East Coast cities (my folks live just 3 hours from DC), and yet I get this ubiquitous sense of aloneness in West Virginia that I don’t easily find in other places. Maybe that’s why I like it.
Being raised in a section of Appalachia close to West Virginia, southeast Ohio, I learned early on to appreciate the enchanting beauty of this region. Bluegrass is big, just like you’d imagine, and even Moonshine has its place. But the outdoors are the bigger attraction in this area of Appalachia. Rock climbing, caving, snow boarding, skiing, hiking, white water rafting… the options are exhausting. Even on my most languorous days, I find the scenery to be inspiration enough.
Although it is believed the Appalachians were once the highest mountains on earth (It’s said that they were higher than the Himalayas during the Ordovician Period, about 466 million years ago, when they connected to mountains in Morocco), they’re much more humble highlands these days.
%Gallery-112317%The area my family calls home is part of the Appalachian Plateaus, one of the thirteen provinces that make up the mountain range. Generally speaking, the Appalachian Mountains act as the geographical dividing line between the eastern seaboard of the USA and the Midwest region, so generally speaking, I grew up in Ohio but not in the Midwest.
My family relocated to West Virginia after I’d moved out and on to New York. So while I don’t regularly visit my hometown anymore, going ‘home’ still looks the same… rugged hillsides and sprawling valleys contrasted against stunning sunsets–at least most evenings. There’s something especially beautiful about this area and people I meet who have spent time there seem to agree… something about the landscape just stills you. This area in the winter is particularly magnetic and eerie, quiet and calm. Take a look at the photos from my most recent trip and see if you can catch a glimpse of what I mean.
[photos by Ben Britz]