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Ice Mountain trip set

By Staff | Jul 10, 2009

The Potomac Valley Audubon Society is sponsoring a hike in the Ice Mountain Preserve in Hampshire County the morning of Saturday, July 18.

The hike will begin at 9:30 a.m. and last about two hours.

Anyone with an interest is welcome to participate, but space will be limited and preregistration is required. To preregister and get directions, contact Kitty Kelly at (304) 876-8578 or kittybkelly@frontiernet.net.

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 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 mountain also has high sandstone cliffs offering impressive views, as well as rock chimneys that are home to large ravens. One may also see eagles there.

The preserve is owned by the Nature Conservancy, and it can only be accessed through specially sponsored hikes of this kind. All hikes through it are led by trained Nature Conservancy volunteers.

The preserve’s trails include some steep terrain and are relatively challenging. Those planning to participate should wear sturdy footwear. Insect repellant is also recommended.

The Potomac Valley Audubon Society is a member of the United Way of the Eastern Panhandle and the Combined Federal Campaign.