|This past weekend, we headed up to Snowshoe, WV for a long weekend of skiing, snowstorms, and frozen waterfalls. In past years, we had driven up on Friday and skiied Saturday and Sunday and returned on Monday. Saturday’s the busiest skiing day, so this year, we drove up Saturday, skiied Sunday and Monday, and then drove back Tuesday, hoping to encounter fewer people on the slopes. We left early Saturday morning as we planned to hit some waterfalls on the way up (of course!). Given the cold weather recently, there was good chance some might be frozen! In Virginia, we headed north on US-220 through Roanoke and Covington. About 9 miles north of Covington, we stopped at the pull-off on the side of the highway for Falling Spring Falls. This beautiful 80-foot waterfall is visible roadside so we first got some pictures from the overlook. The source of the water is a naturally heated spring, so this waterfall was not frozen. However, there were some nice icicles hanging from the cliff face and some snow and ice around the rocks at the base. We then headed down to the base following a faint path from the picnic area. Near the top of the waterfall, there was a rope swing - I guess people swim in the pool near the top when the weather is warmer. It was way too cold today to even think about swimming, though this water is warmer than other creeks. The path heading down to the base was quite steep and the snow-covered rocks made the going a little treacherous. But we made it safely down to the base and got some gorgeous pictures from here. As we started making our way back up, we saw some people at the overlook. By the time we made it back to the parking area, they were heading back to their car and commented that we were very brave to head down there (or very stupid). Leaving the waterfall, we continued driving north on US-220 and stopped for lunch at Cucci’s at the Varsity between Hot Springs and Warm Springs. There isn’t a whole lot of restaurant choices so we stopped at the first place we saw. This restaurant is located inside a gas station so we weren’t expecting much. Sandy and I split a Buffalo Chicken Pizza and it was surprisingly good for gas station food. After lunch, we got on VA-39 and headed west into West Virginia. In Marlinton, we turned onto US-219 south and then right onto WV-55 west into Monongahela National Forest. Upon entering the forest, we finally started seeing snow accumulation on the ground. The road had been plowed, but was still a little slushy. In about 11 miles, we turned into the entrance for Falls of Hills Creek Scenic Area. The short forest road to the parking area had not been plowed, but enough other vehicles had driven through the snow that we were able to make it about a half-mile to the parking at the trailhead. From the parking area, we started hiking the short trail to see the three waterfalls along this stretch of creek. Like the forest road, the trail was completely covered in snow and we had to follow footprints to stay on the trail. Many of the rhododendrons and other trees were heavily weighed down with snow and ice and were leaning over the trail, so we had to duck down or go around in many places. Despite the challenges in hiking this easy trail (that is handicapped-accessible for the first portion), it was a beautiful snowy scene. Soon we came out at the overlook for Upper Falls on Hills Creek. This 25-foot waterfall was completely frozen, but there was no good spot to view it from. We continued on the trail from here and began descending via steps and switchbacks. The steps were rather slippery with ice, so we used the handrails to keep our footing. Next, we stopped to see Middle Falls on Hills Creek, a 45-foot waterfall that was also completely frozen. At this overlook, we had a nice view of the frozen waterfall. Then we continued down to the lower waterfall. This waterfall is over 60 feet and the most impressive of the three and the only one that was not completely frozen. However, there was an amazing cone of ice at the base of the waterfall. It was about half the total height of the waterfall and I thought it resembled a giant blue pineapple. We spent a little while down here enjoying the view and then started making our way back up to the parking lot. On the way back up, Sandy peeled a layer of ice of the leaf of a rhododendron. It looked just like the leaf, but transparent. Leaving the forest, we headed back to Marlinton and checked into our home for the evening - the Old Clark Inn, a cute little bed-and-breakfast. After getting settled into our room, we were getting ready to head out for dinner when we saw Steve and Loye checking in, along with their friends Luis, Mary, and Phil. We knew they were going to Snowshoe the same weekend as us, but we didn’t realize they’d be staying at the same hotel. After they got settled in, we all headed for dinner in Marlinton. After dinner, we socialized for a bit in the common area and then headed to bed.