Crossing Cheat Mountain

It was the week of Sandy, a week of heavy snowfall in the West Virginia mountains, a week of fallen trees and fallen power lines and dropping temperatures, a week of thousands of households without electricity. We had been fortunate in Clarksburg where the storm had little impact, but despite what we had heard of what had happened to the east we intended to spend that weekend in a cabin at Seneca State Forest, on the other side of the mountains. And thus it happened that we drove across Cheat Mountain on All Saints Day on our way to the Forest.

Cheat Mountain

Cheat Mountain

Snow had fallen wet and sticky and heavy; it had stuck to the trees, their leaves, their branches, their trunks, adding weight that, combined with wind, had broken branches and dropped whole trees. And in falling the trees had pulled power lines down as well. Work crews dotted the highways, cutting the fallen wood and beginning to restore power as they were able. In much of the area we drove through the people would have no electricity for days to come.

Cheat Mountain

At the top of Cheat Mountain

By the time we reached the mountains the snow had stopped and the roads were plowed clear but wet. But between the cloud-curtained sky and the snow-coated trees towering over the road there was nothing but white glare — the entire world seemed white and enclosing.

Cheat Mountain

Cheat Mountain

I stopped at the top of the mountain to try to capture on “virtual film” at least a little of the effect, but is it really possible to capture in a flat image the feeling of being completely surrounded, all around and above as well, as if in a cocoon of whiteness?

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