I often suffer from seasonal depression. I have to fight everyday to get out of bed, drag myself out of the house and I generally don’t want to do anything. Over the years I have discovered that just getting outside really helps my winter blues. I don’t get out as often as I should in winter, but when I start to feel drawn into my grumpy hibernation state I try to get moving outside. Christopher and I headed to Tygart Lake State Park last month to see what we could find. We had no plan or even a good idea what we would find, so it was exciting to see what the park had to offer. I was also nice to take a homeschool day and actually learn something new about West Virginia.
Tygart Lake State Park is described by the West Virginia State Park System as, “Located in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in scenic north-central West Virginia, Tygart Lake State Park provides guests with a quiet vacation spot and breathtaking views. Just four miles south of Grafton, Tygart Lake State Park is known for its 10-mile long, 1,750-acre lake, which offers water activities like boating, water skiing, scuba diving, swimming, kayaking, canoeing and fishing. The park is surrounded by beautiful mountain views and provides lakeside lodging perfect for relaxation and unwinding after a full day of play.”
In the off season the lake is drained for flood control. It is not uncommon to have winter floods in West Virginia. The worst happening on Nov. 4th, 1985, a night time flood destroying many of West Virginia small towns. So Christopher and I took the opportunity to explore the lakes bottom. Something that I have never done before and in some ways found extremely enjoyable. It brought back memories of reading the children’s story, The Five Chinese Brothers. I loved this story so much as a child I can almost still tell the tail today. In the story one of the Chinese Brothers is gifted with the talent of being able to swallow the sea and uses the gift to help a younger boy collect fish for his family. The illustrations in the story of the bear bottom of the sea stuck with me all these years. The illustrations show ships that had sunk, dead fish bones, ankers lost from the boats above and fish flopping on the sand at the bottom of the sea. When Christopher and I arrived at the resort building, all of the joy I had in reading that book as a child came rushing back to me. We were going to see the bottom of a 1,750 acre lake and I was going treasure hunting.
We began our search for sea shells and broken bottles just below the small Tygart Lake State Park Resort building walking down to the water’s edge. It was a cold day only 40 degrees and near the water it was colder. So, both Christopher and I bundled up against the wind off the lake and got busy looking for treasures.
While walking the waved sand we found a most unusual treasure. A piece of Frugilrite (lighting beach glass) that was partly buried in the sand. Beach glass is formed when lighting strikes the silica sand of the beach. The appearance in our case is much like a blob of green and clear liquid glass that was burnt into the beach. Attached to the Frugilrite is the iron and other minerals that surrounded the strike area. It is ruff in some parts and very smooth and shiny in others. Christopher found it in a shallow area of the lake only about 50 feet from the normal edge. I am guessing their was more to this piece of glass at one time, but water and erosion has taken its toll on the arms of the glass.
After a couple hours,the sun began to set on us, as we wondered closer to the dam that created Tygart Lake.The sun’s reflection on the water in the lake was amazing. Blasts of silver and gold shone across the water like sequins. I wanted to stay until the very last minute but knew better. We had to climb a very steep hill to return to the lodge and we wanted to get warm inside. I reluctantly told Christopher it was time to leave and begin the 1 1/2 hour drive home.
We returned up he hill to the lodge and stepped inside with our muddy shoes and cold hands just in time to get a few things from the gift shop and head home. We took the long way home, driving around the edge of the lake to see what other thing we could find. The park offers an outdoor pool, lake swimming, a camp ground, boat docks, a picnic area and trails for hiking. You can also see the Dam from above and see the water outlet area with a visitor center. Everything at the park was closed on this trip. So, now I have a reason to return this summer.
I never realised until this drive to he lake that even just a few hours away from work and the darkness of the winter would raise my spirits so high. Just skipping stones and taking photos, had broken away my gloom. Who knew that an afternoon with my son and a piece of glass would make me so happy again.