Despite losing about 500 feet in elevation, the hike is pretty easy as such things go. There are a number of switchbacks along the way and also a number of stairways and steps. It’s a very well engineered path. And it takes you through a very beautiful recovering forest of an impressive diversity.
There is no electricity at the lodge. Lighting is by lantern. Heating is by wood stoves. There are bathrooms with flush toilets, and hot showers powered by propane heating. Meals are provided by the lodge staff and during our stay the food was excellent. Included in the price of an overnight stay is supper and breakfast, both of which were vast and of high quality. You can also buy lunch, and you can have beer and wine at a modest charge.
A great boon for me was the total quiet. Except for one aircraft that flew over the vicinity for a brief moment, I never heard the sound of any machine. There was nothing but the sound of the wind and the bird calls and the slight music of the nearby creek.
|At the start of the Twin Arches trail.|
|At the top of the North Arch I found this view of the cliff walls on the other side of the gorge.|
|Carole heading down one of the massive staircases.|
|Me, carrying our stuff down to the lodge. You don’t need much. Grooming needs, change of clothes, some water for the hike, towel and wash cloth. The lodge provides everything else.|
|The forest was very diverse. Surprisingly so. The hemlocks there are still thriving. Oaks, beech, hickory, pines, sycamore, walnut, etc. It’s an amazingly healthy forest considering the toll that timber and coal mining operations took on the area.|
|We emerge from the forest to see the first structure, a smokehouse put to new use.|
|The main lodge building. Circa 1817. It is the oldest building owned by the National Park Service that is still in use.|
|That weeping willow is nothing short of amazing. Like something from a storybook. This is the back section of the lodge. There is a sitting area between the willow and a pair of hemlocks where you can soak in the peace and quiet.|
|The barn. Used now to store fire wood and equipment.|
|This was our cabin. Screened in porch on one side, open porch on the other. Beyond you can see the bathroom and past that (out of sight) is the shower house.|
|Also sometimes used as a group cabin. For us it was a couples-only abode. All linens provided with plenty of extra pillows and wool blankets.|
|But you don’t need those wool blankets all that much, because that wood-burning stove will heat the entire building more than adequately!|
Tomorrow…more photos. I celebrate the hike down to the lodge by going on a long hike!