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West Virginia is often described as “wild and wonderful” or “almost heaven” and with views like this, I can certainly understand why. This photo was taken in the wild Dolly Sods Wilderness area (Bear Rocks Preserve) in the northern part of the state. In June 2021, I took my first trip to the area, and I quickly learned how it got its name. While set up for this shot, I kept hearing an odd sound nearby. After some time, it suddenly occurred to me that I was hearing a bear! Another photographer nearby confirmed that there was a female black bear and cubs in the area. Apparently, we were getting a little too close to her den, so she was warning us to move back. As soon as the sun set, I packed up and moved closer to the car for safety. The next morning, I went back to the same area for sunrise and found bear tracks in the mud not too far from where I was positioned.
The road into the Dolly Sods Wilderness is not for the faint of heart. Although 4-wheel drive is not required, a vehicle with good ground clearance and good shocks would be recommended. The 30 minute or so drive on the pothole filled dirt road is sure to shake loose anything not tightly fastened down. If you are brave enough to spend the night close to the bears, there are plenty of primitive tent camping spots nearby. Be sure to arrive early for sunrise or sunset as this is popular spot for photography groups and nature enthusiasts.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor