The Potomac Valley Audubon Society has scheduled a field trip to the Ice Mountain Preserve in Hampshire County, WV, on Saturday, Aug. 25. The hike into the preserve will begin about 10 a.m. and last about two hours. It will be led by Master Naturalist Clark Dixon.
Anyone with an interest is welcome to participate, including families with children. However, space will be limited to only 15 people so pre-registration is essential.
Because parking at the preserve is limited, participants are encouraged to meet at the Food Lion parking lot on Route 51 off I-81 in Inwood at 8:30 a.m. and carpool from there to the preserve.
The Ice Mountain Preserve is a 149-acre property that contains an unusual geologic site: a high rocky slope that traps winter ice and retains it year round, like a kind of natural refrigerator.
The ice itself is mostly hidden from view deep within the rocks but cold air flows continually from a series of vents at the bottom of the slope. Historically, Native Americans and early settlers used the vents for storing perishable food in the warm months. Now the vents are of interest primarily because they create a unique ecosystem that supports Canadian, Alpine, and even Arctic species of plants in addition to native Appalachian species.
The preserve also has high sandstone cliffs offering impressive views and rock chimneys that are home to large ravens. One may also see eagles there. Because of its unique characteristics, the preserve was designated a U.S. National Natural Landmark last spring. It is owned by the Nature Conservancy.
The hike through the preserve is relatively challenging, with steep elevation changes. Participants should wear sturdy shoes. Bug spray is recommended.