Traveling the Channels

Matthew Krauss, Columnist •

The hardest part about outdoor excursions this time of year is keeping the goal in mind; seeing a worthy place of natural beauty. While it’s good to visit the small wonders every once and a while we all know these treasures do not allow us to forget the cold and our longing for spring. The best suggestion I can give is to find a nearby place that is very unique whether it be Mt. Rogers, Breaks Interstate Park, Natural Bridge, or the Channels Natural Area Preserve where I went to this past weekend.

The Channels are a geological wonder consisting of massive boulders that form narrow passageways. It’s hard to describe and just something you should personally view in order to see the sheer magnitude of the spot.

The one negative (of the spot is its remoteness. The Channels are nowhere near civilization and looking from the mountaintop, I could barely make out any nearby towns on the horizon. Because it is so far up in the mountains the drive can be a little tedious. The winding roads have hairpin turns that could make the faint of heart car sick very quickly.

If you don’t think these mountains are high, just visit the watchtower on the mountaintop. This tower was erected by the forestry department to search for fires in the general area. The tower is still up today, but the climb up the stairs is unsafe because the first set of stairs are missing and there is no platform to prevent falling to the bottom.
Something else unique about the area is the view of the other mountains. Each of the ridges across from where we stood has these grooves that go up and down and in all my experiences in mountain settings I have never seen this before.

Winter is a special time to go to the Channels because the rock faces all have special icicles that hang down from the rock face. This is because the limestone the mountain sits on filters water through it very quickly and the water will then set on the rock face. It was the first time I have ever seen brown colored icicles which I presume came from an underground water source that was invaded by a clump of dirt.

Many times hiking loses its thrill because of the terrain hikers are forced to go through. When the trail goes down into a steep canyon or through a rocky area, hikers can’t not think about the amazing area they are going through because they will just be preoccupied with the soreness present from the long journey.

The best part of hiking is the challenge it requires of the hiker and this type of challenge can certainly be found on the trails of the Channels Natural Area Preserve.


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