Lake Moomaw - George Washington spent a decade in Virginia, Bath County. He came first as a surveyor, but then he eventually became a military Commander, responsible for claiming lands on the Ohio.
I asked the nice lady at the Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce where I could go for a semi-long and semi-challenging bike ride. And, I didn't want to ride circles around the golf course at the Homestead or get run over by a car.
She immediately suggested I go to Warm Springs and ride up to scenic Lake Moomaw.
"Lake where," I asked.
Lake Moomaw is in the Allegeny Mountains and is nestled in between the Bolar Mountain range and the Coles Mountain range.
So I got out my trusty old Cannondale -- inflated her tires, lubed her chains. The nice folks (Steve) from Allegheny Outfitters provided me with a flat tire repair kit, just in case -- nice insurance for that long, hilly bike ride up the mountainside.
But then as I was getting ready to hit the trails, the skies opened up, and I felt that we were going to create a new lake at Hot Springs.
So, I deferred my trek for another day, namely tomorrow, but there was no telling what the skies had in store for us especially up between two mountain ranges, where mountains can create their own weather patterns in literally minutes.
Still I was an adventure seeker, and willing to give it a try, but willing to pull chocks if the weather had different thoughts.
Magnificent, majestic view of the Lake
My ride from Warm Springs to Lake Moomaw was challenging. The ride was hilly (up and down) and was taking a huge toll on my legs.
I had to negotiate a lot of hills and many sharp turns while cars zipped by on SR-39. They were not used to seeing bikers. After a few too many hills, I knew exactly why. It was too much work. But would it be worth the work?
I made a left on 621 which after several miles and several cow pastures turned to a hard packed gravel 603. I was concerned for my thin road tires at first, but there was no need to be concerned. This is when the scenery got good.
I then rode along Jackson River for several miles with appealing rock formations with the river running for miles at rapid speed downhill. It was almost as if the river spoke to me and whispered to my ear, that you are not alone and that I will run together with you, no matter how much my thighs burned.
It was a lot of work, but when I finally got there, I had to kick myself because it was so surreal
I was so worn out that the first thing I did was jump into the Lake and go for a hard, robust swim.
I was taken back by the clarity, taste and aroma of the water. Clear, smooth and sweet -- better than Deer Park. But then when I gulped a mouthful, I started thinking of the cattle I saw upstream and realized perhaps this wasn't the brightest idea.
I could literally swim for a couple miles, but I was concerned about the speed boats, the skiers, and the jet skis. I could see them, but could they see me (or think I'm some new buoy).
It was literally one of the most pleasant swims I've ever had in my life, almost as pleasant (but not as exciting) as the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul earlier this month. Well here I was swimming between two mountain ranges. There, swimming between two continents -- no comparison.
Lake Moomaw is also the spot for the sprint triathlons in June. Would love the swim but loathe the bike course. I like my courses nice and flat.
What was also amazing was the fact that Lake Moomaw was built by the Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1981 (although the idea was hatched shortly after WW II).
The 2650 acre lake primary purpose is for water quality, but it is also used for recreation year round (especially fishing). According to the VA Game and Fisheries website, a layer of oxygenated water lies 15 feet below the surface. Here, rainbow, brown and brook trout thrive. And there is plenty of feeder fish for the trophy fish. I don't know much about fishing, although at home I take great enjoyment watching and feeding my cichlids and mollies in my 70 gallon tank.
Pushing yourself physically is good and demanding, but you always need to take time to smell the roses.
Linda, Jim (Host) and Latasha at the cozy, friendly Lake Moomaw Marina convenience store. Had a nice conversation with them -- they fed me lunch and then some. Jim is retired and is volunteering as a host at the marina. He's also camping out at the site for three months.
The store was also a good spot to stay dry from the rain which invariably swept through the lake area in the late afternoon.
Just before I rode off the three invited me back for the sprint triathlon next June. I told them I would be back, perhaps a lot sooner than that, and if this goes on, I would never go home.