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Gorge-ous: Exploring the New River Gorge


Written by: Joseph Deal | WVUGo Copywriter and Editor

In 2005, my family attended the unveiling of the new West Virginia state quarter at the capitol building in Charleston. The governor gave a speech, meaningless words to a seven-year-old ginger in the scorching sun, and then the crowd ooh-ed and ahh-ed as they received sparkling state quarters. The quarter prominently featured the New River Gorge Bridge. All I felt was confusion, and a little bit of anger. How could these people be so stupid? The quarter didn’t feature anything from West Virginia, just some silly bridge. In my seven-year-old arrogance, I had assumed that every geographic location that I had never seen was outside of West Virginia. I had not seen the New River Gorge Bridge yet, much to my later derision.

Recently, I have been back and back again to the gorge. I first traveled there in high school, and have attempted to revisit it as often as I could. The New River Gorge Bridge as viewed from the Longpoint Trail has forced me to reflect on myself and my own place in life. The bridge magnificently melds the grandeur of nature with the ingenuity of man. I was placed in awe of nature’s encompassing expanse contrasted with my, and humanity’s, own minuteness (Can you tell that I am a Philosophy major with a minor in Pretentiousness?) This magnitude of beauty forced me to look outside of myself. Yet, contrary to my initial reaction of humility, the bridge itself, a testament to engineering ingenuity, highlights humanity’s image of creativity. This is a wonderful dissonance; this knowledge that we are so very small, yet so very capable of great marvels.

Poetic ramblings regarding the breath-snatching views aside, the Long Point Trail is about 1.6 miles, and is an out-and-back trail. The trail itself is one of the more fun trails that I have traversed, as it is a moderate trail with beautiful plant life. It features a tunnel of rhododendrons through which one descends into the jutting rock point, a peninsula in the sky.

Besides the Gorge, Fayetteville and the surrounding areas qualify for the standard hipster designation of “quaint.” Fayetteville is home to the Secret Sandwich Society, (darn it, I told everyone the secret) a fantastic restaurant that offers sandwiches named after various U.S. presidents. In neighboring Mt. Nebo, Appalachian Coffee House serves some complex cups complete with pour-overs and specialty drinks like the On the Trail, a chai latte with vanilla. This space is also home to Homebound Books, a book nook that sells used editions tailored to local consumption.

The base takeaway here is that there is a reason for the New River Gorge Bridge’s prominence as an adventure destination in West Virginia. Long Point is just one of the trails surrounding the gorge, and hiking is just one of the adventures to be had. White-water rafting, climbing, and small town exploration provide a plethora of experiences. Pictures fail to paint the actual experience, and words fail to accurately articulate the glories of the gorge. So, you should go there yourself. Like, right now.

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