Highliners ‘Shoot the Moon’ at West Virginia’s Seneca Rocks

West Virginia

Deep in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest lies Seneca Rocks, which offers the perfect place to unplug, breathe in the mountain air, and enjoy stunning views.

SENECA ROCKS, W.Va. – After more than a year of frustration, a collaboration of photographers and slackliners recently reached a lofty goal at one of West Virginia’s best-known landmarks.

As reported in Highland Outdoors magazine, photographers were taking pictures of Seneca Rocks in August 2020, when they noticed what they thought were tightrope walkers crossing the expanse between the two peaks of the rocks.

The photographers later learned that the tightrope walkers were in fact slackliners and were part of a Pittsburgh-area organization called the Steel City Slackers. The photographers and slackliners then teamed up with a goal of getting photographic evidence of the highliners crossing the void while a full or nearly full moon formed a backdrop.

Below is a YouTube video of the Steel City Slackers at Seneca Rocks in August 2021:

As photographer David Johnston described on his Facebook page, the conditions had to be just right for the idea to work and those conditions only come together a few times a year: “For this to work the moon needed to rise in the notch full or nearly so, at a time near sunset so the there would still be light on the rocks and highliners, visible from an open location on public land or private property with permission. It turns out this is possible only a few times a year, and because we couldn’t see the moon before it rose, we had to be at exactly the right position at exactly the right time. Not only that, but the trajectory of the moon would take it through and out of the notch within a matter of minutes, so everything had to be timed and ready for a small window of opportunity.”

The crew was ready to go, on several occasions, only to be thwarted by weather, Johnston went on to say.

Here’s more on one of the failed attempts in 2020, along with a great description of what all had to go into making it work in the future:

On December 15, though, all systems were a go. “Two years of planning and many attempts later…,” photographer Jesse Thornton says in the YouTube description of his video:

Slackliners Wade Desai and Hai Thai walked the walk, while Johnston, Thornton and fellow photographer Perry Bennett, captured it all in photos and video.

“The dream was realized,” Thai posted on Instagram, while Bennett described it as a “once in a lifetime” event.

There’s no word on what the group has planned for its next act.

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