I looked over the edge of the rock to the pool of water below that was gently moving down a back fork of the Elk River in Webster County and stepped back.
The drop was maybe 10 or 12 feet, but this was a river, not a swimming pool. There were rocks — big rocks — on the bottom that had been pointed out to me, and I was a little nervous about flinging myself out into the air.
I hadn’t done anything like this since I was a teenager, probably, but all summer long I’d hoped to go have a low-tech, authentic West Virginia experience, like jumping off a rock into a swimming hole.
Webster County was the 54th county in my run and the moment deserved something of a pause.
But then I tore out across the rock and catapulted myself into the air, dropped like a stone, hit the cool water with a splash and never touched the bottom.
It was glorious. I felt like I was 15 again.
My Webster County adventure was largely due to Camp Holly, a small campground in Diana, an unincorporated town about 10 miles from Webster Springs.
Camp Holly is run by Michelle Krompecher and Zave Walter, a couple of free spirits who went all-in with an out-of-the-way getaway that includes some fun camping options and a fishing pond.
“Fun camping options” is not something I say too often.
I’m on record as finding camping more traumatic than tranquil, but they offered to put me up in a vintage camper, which seemed like camping in a way I’d never tried. You know, sleeping on a bed inside a fully furnished and fully electric structure with a refrigerator, Wi-Fi and a door.
I could get used to that, I thought. I was already used to it.
On my way to Camp Holly, I stopped in Webster Springs at the Custard Stand, had a soft serve caramel cone (who else does that?) and bought a coffee mug.
One more souvenir for the pile.
I went by the giant block of coal in front of the Webster County Courthouse and would have tried the sulfur waters I’d read about. There was a display and a water fountain set up to sample the water, but the line had been turned off some time ago and I didn’t get so much as a sip.
But I did get the dip in the river, courtesy of Michelle and Zave, who were great hosts and told me about moving to Webster.
“The people here are great,” Zave said. “You need something, and they’ll give it to you. You need help and they just show up.”
He said residents pitched in to help them build their A-frame cabins and find materials to make fire rings for the campsites.
It’s still a work in progress. They’re expanding as they go and trying different events to attract people.
“You should’ve come on a weekend,” Michelle told me.