Arrowheads at Watoga

Arrowheads at Watoga

Background

Consider the trails currently existing in Watoga State Park.  Some of these are assumed from existing pioneer trails. And those early but historical trails may have been appropriated from trails trod by the ancients. We now call them Native Americans.  After all, the terrain forces us to take the path of least resistance. So it is reasonable to assume that there is a certain logic to the path one takes to get from one place to another.  Trails were important to ancient people for hunting, trade, socializing and annual migrations.

So I was not surprised when I found an arrowhead on Monongaseneka Trail recently.  Finding an arrowhead is a singularly profound experience. Consider the last human to touch it was an Indian who lived and hunted in these mountains hundreds, if not thousands, of years ago.  So, what can we infer about this person by the artifact that he left behind?

Details of the Found Arrowhead

We may be able to determine an approximation of the age of the point by the material it is made of and its design. This point is a stemmed point referring to the square elongation at its base. The color and quality of the flint suggest it may have come from flint found in the Lewisburg area. And finally the design indicates it may be Archaic, a group of Native Americans who lived in settlements in our area in the period from 9000 BC to 4500 BC.  An archaeologist or a collector may have more accurate information.  But it is probably not a tool that belonged to historic native groups, such as Shawnee.

Is it truly an arrowhead ? Was it attached to an arrow shaft and shot from a bow?  Probably not.  Only a small percentage of flint points were used on arrows. Furthermore, it was not until about 1400 years ago when the bow and arrow found its way to the western hemisphere.

Flint points were manufactured for a variety of uses including scrapers, knives, bow drills for making fires and drilling holes, and for spears. This point may have been a spear point, meaning it is attached to a wooden shaft and cast using a spear thrower called an atlatl.

This fine point is on display at the Watoga Nature Center.  It is a reminder of the people of many purposes, languages and customs who traversed these same mountain trails that we do to this very day.

It goes without saying that the removal of any historic or prehistoric artifact in any West Virginia State Park is unlawful and deprives the public of its cultural value.

Watoga Events 2018

Here is a listing of Watoga Events 2018.  Fun for your and your family!

Watoga Geocaching

Watoga Geocaching EventWatoga will host their second annual geocache weekend, with over 25 geocaches currently hidden, and at least 20 more hidden throughout the park. Many will have a first to find prize, and all will be available on the geocaching website. If you would like to input coordinates manually into a GPS, we will have those available in the main office. Come enjoy your time at the park exploring, hiking along the trails, and having fun geocaching. Call the park today at (304) 799-4087 to rent a cabin for the weekend to find all the geocaches hidden, and see what Watoga has to offer!

Kid’s Fishing Derby

Calling all anglers 13 and younger! Watoga will be hosting their annual Kid’s Fishing Derby again this year. The fishing derby will begin at 10:00am, with registration starting at 9:30am at the swimming pool parking lot, which is walking distance from where the derby will be held. Fishing derby will conclude at 1:00pm with awards and certificates being distributed shortly after. For more information, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087.

National Trails Day

Come and enjoy any of our 40+ miles of hiking trails available in the park. On this day, we will lead a hike to the Ann Bailey watchtower. This guided hike will begin at 9:00 am meeting at the Ann Bailey trailhead. Please plan to bring water, a packed lunch/snacks, and wear closed-toed shoes. For additional information and to make reservations, be sure to call the park main office.

Three Rivers Avian Center

Watoga State Park is pleased to welcome back the Three Rivers Avian Center to thThree Rivers Avian Center Evente Recreation Building. There will be a presentation beginning at 7:00pm with live birds of prey, including owls, hawks, and eagles. Join us for an evening event that will be fun for all ages. Be sure to reserve your cabin today for this event!

Back to School Bash and Pool Party

As we get closer to the end of summer, it’s time to have one last bit of fun in the sun before school starts. Come join us by the pool as we soak in the rays from 1:00pm – 6:00pm Music, games, food and drinks, and giveaway prizes are just some of the fun in store. For more information and to make cabin or campground reservations, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087.

Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge Races

Watoga Mountain Trail Challenge RacesWith two different races, the Mountain Trails Challenge is a great way to see the trails at Watoga. The races consist of a challenging 5K and a Half Marathon. The 5K is a great introduction to trail running. The Half Marathon is a great challenge for even the most avid runner. Both races will begin at 8:30am, and will leave from the Beaver Creek Campground check-in station. This event is sponsored by the Watoga State Park Foundation. For more information, and to see a map of the race course, please visit the official website www.watogafoundation.org/race. Call the park office today to make your reservations for your cabin or campsite!

Disk Golf Tournament

Grab your Frisbees and head over to the first Disc Golf Tournament being held at the park. Our nine hole course is nestled in the woods, and is sure to challenge any team. Registration will begin at 9:00am, with the tournament beginning at 10:00am. For more information, please contact the park at (304) 799-4087

Watoga Art In The Park

Watoga will once again host their Art in the Park Festival weekend. This weekend will feature lots of arts and crafts from juried artists. From live demonstrations, music, art for sale, food, and an area for the kids, there is something for everyone! The event will be held at the Picnic Shelter area. For more information about the event, please visit the official Facebook page. Call today to reserve your cabin for this fantastic event at (304) 799-4087.

Monongaseneka Trail

Have you ever ventured out on Monongaseneka Trail here at Watoga State Park?  I highly recommend it. The trailhead is located a mere 1/2 mile up the main park entrance road.  Just after crossing the newly restored bridge across Isle Lick you will see the parking area on the right, with the start of the trail across the road and on your left.

Monongaseneka Trail Overlook at Watoga State ParkThis 2 1/2 mile trail follows switchbacks up the mountain, drops down into Jeff’s Hollow before ascending again to the main ridge high above Seebert and the Greenbrier River. From here you can hike the Overlook Loop out to the overlook where you can sit a spell on the benches before resuming your hike out to the North Boundary Trail.

Monongaseneka Trail Options

The are several ways you can make this a longer day hike by shuttling a car to Bear Pen Trail or the parking area at the picnic shelter. My favorite way of hiking this trail is to leave a bicycle at the park headquarters, then drive down to the Mongaseneka trailhead and leave your car there. Hike up Monongaseneka to North Boundary Trail, Down Bear Pen Trail all the way to Watoga Lake. From here you can hike the Lake Trail either direction until arriving at the park headquarters.

Now this is where the fun begins: you have just completed a long and beautiful hike and now you get on your bicycle and coast down the main entrance road back to your car. The whole while Isle Lick is noisily alternating from one side of the road to the other; a series of cascades and pools. It doesn’t get any better than that.

I spent a couple days up on Monongaseneka trimming striped maple and removing smaller debris off the trail. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the new benches at the Monongaseneka Overlook, courtesy of John Casto and crew.  A selfie is something I am not inclined to do, in large part because I do not want to mar the great scenery. So instead I borrowed Mr. Frog from one of my dogs and created a “frog’s eye view ” from the overlook.

Jeff Hollow

The largish double-trunk tree can be found in Jeff’s Hollow along with many others of similar size. There is a palpable sense of entering a special place here which can only be felt by being here; it is hard to translate the feeling with mere words. Some places just seem to be sacred; when there we are quite sure that there is a spiritual dimension to the deep wood. And for a while we carry that feeling with us until it beckons us back again.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” John Muir

Emerald Ash Borer Critically Endangers Ash Tree

Feeding Trails of Emerald Ash BorerAncient Petroglyphs found In Watoga State Park? No, these are the feeding trails of the Emerald Ash Borer.  In this case the Emerald Ash Borer is responsible for perpetrating a trick on the human brain, pareidolia. We humans instinctively seek patterns in nearly everything we see. For example, I see an abstract horned creature in one photograph and a coyote in the other.

Emerald Ash Borer LarvaeThe sad truth is that the ash tree is being decimated by the Emerald Ash Borer at a rate not seen in any one species of tree since the Chestnut Blight of the early 1900s. The white ash is considered “critically endangered” and the population decline is expected to be 80% over the next 100 years. As one forester wryly put it ” Without divine intervention we can kiss our ashes goodbye”.

Emerald Ash BorerWhen the Emerald Ash Borer enters the tree it lays eggs. The emerging larvae attack the phloem essentially girdling the tree. They attack trees as small as 2.5 cm in diameter, long before it is mature enough to produce viable seed.   This virtually ensures 100% mortality of the species.  Emerald Ash Borer Critically Endangers Ash Trees.

Invaluable Qualities of White Ash Wood

White ash is valued for its strength and straight grain. It is used for everything from furniture to tennis rackets and baseball bats. I have an old pair of snowshoes that hang on my wall.  They are made of ash. We will miss this tree just as we miss the chestnut, the elm and all the other species that have been the victims of parasitic attack.

In ways we are not now aware of we will sorely miss all of the wild things that go the way of the passenger pigeon. When the last ash tree is gone, we will be all the poorer for it.

With that in mind I leave you with a poem that speaks to the love, utility and admiration of the Ash tree.

The Firewood Poem

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for logs ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter’s cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

By Lady Celia Congreve

Keep on hiking my friends,
Ken Springer