Club Occifers

President          - Drew Benson 942-7467
Vice President – Curt Mobley 864-0428
Secretary          - Sue MacDowell 454-3205
Treasurer          - Linda Locke 454-2387 or 2460 

Future Trips

Feb. Probably a party at Groundhogs Day.
What else????? (come to meeting to find out)

 Trip Reports, etc.

 White water doth Deceive
Of what lies beneath the churning
The water that pillows softly
Followed by a foaming, tumbling wake
Can fool the untrained eye.

The softly flowing water
Is where the actual dangers lie.
Looking innocent, it hides true nature,
But when contact is made,
An irreparable hurt can result.
The wild wake that follows
Is much like the fierce rumble of thunder
Following the electric spark of lightening.
Often the nature of things are concealed,
And what appears one way
In reality is just the opposite.


 Beginners Canoeing on the Shenandoah. Sept. 15

 After gathering people together at 8 AM, rearranging boats, getting food, renting boats, re-gathering people, losing people, re-gathering again, etc. 14 people climbed into 7 canoes and a kayak at about 1 PM, a typical start. All were beginners except Kathy Weston and myself. We put in at the landing just below the power plant and practiced strokes and drifted on the flat stretch. Wind was cooperative and weather was fine. We spent a log time at Bull Falls scouting. I set up a throw line just below the left chute but it wasn’t used. All made it with only close calls. Water was low and only the 4 left chutes were runnable and none were hard. The staircase was it’s usual self at low water, just possible. It took an hour and fifteen minutes for all to bang scrape, paddle and walk down it. Regrouped at Harpers Ferry and headed into White Horse. It was only a vigorous class 2 so most ran it without scouting. Took out at 6 PM at Sandy Hook. Long but good trip.


Just Plain Nice at Ramsey’s Draft

 Once upon a time around the beginning of October Bob, Pat, Andrea, Joan, Ron, Mark, Jim, Don and Rick (forgive the spelling, I spell by ear) took a very pleasant backpacking trip to Ramsey’s Draft in Virginia. The weather was superb. We slept under the stars both nights. Saturday evening we hiked up to Bald Knob (or something like that). Anyway, it turned out not to be so bald after all. We had to climb trees to get a view, but the views were quite rewarding. We beat our way back down through the scrub oak and hiked back to camp. Sunday we hiked down along Ramsey’s Draft. The trail here winds through some magnificent hemlocks and is really beautiful. We lingered there for quite a while. The lower portion of this trail requires more than a few fords. It was during these aquatic activities that we learned what a gabion is (if you don’t know, ask Don). The real clincher of the trip was when Rick tried to hitchhike back to Confederate Breastworks to get his truck. – nobody would pick the scrungy character up. The group decided to send two girls instead. As soon as Rick was out of sight a car screeched to a halt and whizzed them away. Is that a putdown or is that a putdown?


Lost and Found at Otter Creek

 On 12 October 1974 the TTC mountaineering team of  Don “the Sensuous”, Janet “Sweetybumpkin”, Claire “Pocahontas”, Paul “the Turkeyman”, and Rick “the Fletch” set out to traverse the rugged byways of the Otter Creek Cooperative Wildlife Management Area. Due to navigational uncertainties (they got lost) they bivouacked Saturday night somewhere in Monongahela. Saturday morning found them at the trailhead and wondering which way to go (they didn’t have a map.) The team immediately accosted the first two hikers to appear and demanded to be told which way was up. Having decided on a Kosher direction they plunged into the ethereal greenery. “Pocohantas” immediately proceeded to do a petite stumble in the first bog, creating the latest in feminine fashion – the mud look. Not to be outdone “Sweetybumpkin” plunged forward stepping in every mud hole along the way. The group proceeded along, having no trouble following the trail-bike tracks through the wilderness. Don “the Sensuous” was so pleased with the considerate trail blazing of the bikers that he left the following note of praise in the trail register – “I like trail bikes – P.S. for dinner.” 

The trip proceeded uneventfully for many hours. In the late afternoon two hikers appeared mysteriously from the vegetation carrying a map.  The team immediately fell into a T formation, blocking the trail, and demanded, “Your money or your map!” The two hikers told the team where to go and the mountaineers proceeded merrily down the trial.

Just at the crack of evening as the sun tumbled over the horizon the team somehow became separated. Rick “the Fletch” and Don “the Sensuous” had forged ahead to scout for a campsite leaving signs along the trail for the others to follow. But somehow the rest of the group didn’t see the obvious pile of sticks left at one of the trail intersections to point the way. Don “the Sensuous” and Rick “the Fletch” waited for many minutes for the lost sheep. As dark was closing in they concluded that the lost sheep really were lost and had better be found. So the two hardy scouts proceeded to run through the woods shouting, “Hello”, “Yoddleyhee” , and other obscenities in hopes of attracting the lost party.

 As Don “the Sensous”  was running through the woods he came upon two trees with peculiar blue blazes. “By Jove, a trail,” he exclaimed, “I bet that’s where they went!” And he jogged hopefully up the 85 degree slope. Sure enough, up on top the ridge sat the rest of the group wondering what had happened to the two lost scouts.

 After a happy reunion the “Sensuos” scout slid back down the slope to find the “Fletch” who was still running through the woods looking for lost sheep. In less than a couple hours the whole group was reunited on the hilltop and eating delicious backpacker’s glop. In a moment of nostalgia, “Pocohantas” decided to build a traditional Indian bonfire. In less than the time it takes to rub two sticks together the flames were shooting twelve feet into the air. The nearby trees thought spring had sprung and started to turn green (or was it black.)  Sleep soon overcame the party and they all slumbered wearily to the melodious chirpings of Paul “the Turkeyman.”

 Sunday dawned clear and beautiful. The group was awakened at 8:30 AM by the crack of dawn and after a quick breakfast were on the trail by 11:30. The day proceeded uneventfully for 30 minutes. At the first trail intersection the group searched fruitlessly for the continuation of the Yellow Creek Trail, but it was nowhere to be found. They finally decided to go ‘that way’ since ‘that way’ was downhill. In less than a flash two hikers appeared from nowhere and were held at bay with the muddy end of a walking stick while being searched for maps and other navigational paraphernalia. The hikers were found to be in possession of a map and guidebook which was immediately confiscated and scanned for useful information.

 Well, to make a long story longer it turns out that ‘that way’ was the right way after all and soon the group regretfully found itself back in the civilized world. They all climbed in the paddy wagon and were whizzed back to the big University – on two wheels, of course (to conserve energy.)


 Wanted: Professional witch doctor to create snowy conditions in Washington area suitable for cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Reward – many thanks from TTC members.

 In Search of Diamonds in New York, Oct 12-14

 A sympathetic alarm clock cancelled our 4 am start in favor of a more reasonable 9 o’clock departure. Drove north Saturday in hazy overcast weather. North of Harrisburg we followed I-81, which runs along the top of Broad Mtn. Marveled at the thoroughness with which strip and shaft mining had devastated the area in search of anthracite. There are several spots where the highway follows the ridge crest marking the rim of the anthracite basin. The view is a contrast of green agricultural valleys on one side and strip mines, slag heaps and slum towns on the other. At Bighampton we turned of I81 and followed the Susquehanna northward. The water is flat but the scenery is continually good. Crossed the divide at Cherry Valley and passed thru Stone Arabia just before dark. Got directions at Fonda for Diamond Acres campground and collection site. A limestone horizon at the top of a broken escarpment of Helderberg? Limestone is riddled with solution pockets, which often contain Herkimer diamonds (very lustrous double terminated quartz crystals.)

 Sunday was clear and fall color at its peak so I drove a circuit up the Mohawk over to Cobleskill Creek and down the Schoharie. The area is something between very high hills and broad rounded mountains. Anyway you get immense vistas across the Mohawk toward the Adirondacks. The streams either flow thru steep sided valleys or deep gorges with waterfalls along the sides. The Mohawk River, in spite of being a barge canal, has an impressive gorge between Canajoharie and Fonda. Canajoharie Creek has cut a deep gorge just above town with good whitewater. It also has 2 dams and an unrunnable staircase waterfall. The first dam is dangerous and can only be portaged on the extreme left. I climbed up along the creek bed to find this out.

 Back at Diamond Acres camp many diamonds were found, some nearly flawless. Other groups found single crystals 5 inches long, but alas, not us. Sunday night started very clear and cold but clouds closed in and Monday started with rain. We drove back thru Schoharie Valley and along the West Branch of the Delaware to 81. Scenery and fall colors were great. Got home at 11 PM after a 10-hour drive.

 Ron Canter (Freki)

 Almost snowin’, West Virginia

 On October the 18th Don, John, Earl and Rick set out for a weekend in the Red Creek area of Dolly Sods. We spent Friday night sleeping in the parking lot behind the Laneville Wildlife cabin. About halfway through the night we were awakened by that chilled form of precipitation commonly called snow, and we reluctantly crawled out of our bags and put up the tents. Saturday morning we were awakened by 21 entomology students from Marshall College who came tromping by our campsite looking for bugs. Having been so rudely awakened we decided to search out some wilderness to hide in. A short ways up the Red Creek Trail a sign, “Entering Dolly Sods Scenic Area”, assured us we were headed in the right general direction. We swung across the swinging bridge on Big Stonecoal Trail and headed up a little hill. About a mile later (at the top) everyone thanked Rick for picking such a fine little hill to climb. After catching our breath (from the climb, not the view) we headed north along Big Stonecoal Run. We soon passed a really neat waterfall and stopped to take a few pictures. An hour or so later we stopped at the hunter’s convention on FS 80. We ate lunch there among the Winnebago’s and campers. It was here that Don “the Sensuous” and Rick “the Fletch” demonstrated their can crushing (and hernia producing) technique. John and Earl looked on smugly. The arctic winds soon convinced us to start hiking. (You know it was cold ‘cause “the Fletch” put on his long wool pants. This shatters the myth concerning his bare legged antics. His name will now be removed from the ‘Hall of the Insane.’) A short way down Breathed Mountain Trail we passed the Turkey shooting variety of Nimrod Americanus. He waved sheepishly as we trucked on by. The Breathed Mountain trail is really outstanding. It also passed quite near some beaver ponds at it’s southern end. Unfortunately we didn’t see any of the architects in residence.

 We reached the Forks at about 3 PM and set up camp. John built a respectable little campfire and Earl ‘the Aardvark’ went out in search of a snowbow. (a close relative of the rainbow.) The night was cold, breezy and snowy (though there was not too much accumulation). Sunday dawned cold and snowy. The sun made a short appearance soon after we arose. Under the watchful tutelage of ‘the Aardvark’ , ‘the Fletch’ searched the skies for a snowbow.  There was none to be found. Frostbite began to set into our eyeballs so we started hiking to warm up. We jogged on down the Red Creek Trail. Earl demonstrated the principle of gravity when a rock jumped up in front of his foot causing him to do a nosedive. He mumbles something about the general condition of the geology of the area as he limped on down the trail.

 We left the Red Creek Trail and stumbled on along Rocky Point Trail. This has to be the rockiest trail this side of Mahoosuc Notch. The snow and wind really socked in as we rounded the southern loop of this trail. We did get an occasional view of the Red Creek Valley as the sun would blaze through the snowy sky now and then.

 We followed the Big Stonecoal trail again for about3/4 mile up to Dunkenbarger Run Trail. This is an interesting trail. It starts off through some large and rather scenic spruce and very quickly passes through a large and rather unscenic mud hole. Traversing this bog is a major operation. Rick plunged right through balancing his way across the rotten spruce logs provided. The others, seeing the insanity of this route, bushwhacked around it. The rest of the Dunkenbarger Run Trail is really quite scenic and it is well worth traversing the bog to see it. Further along we picked up the Little Stonecoal trail and followed it down to Red Creek. The creek was a bit high so we took the exceptionally muddy high water route out, and cussed ourselves for doing it. We would have stayed drying crossing the creek. We arrived at the car just in time to be inundated by a shower of wet snow. It seemed like the snow gods were trying to tell us something so we got out of there real quick and fought our way back to civilization through the tourist traffic in Shenandoah.


 Car driving, driving on
Bushes and trees passing near
Reach out, fingers spread
Stretching, trying to touch
Trying to capture the feel
Of the leaves flashing by.
Fingers open, palm laid bare
Open to receive.

 Contact is made-
a harsh, hard slap.
The hand quickly withdrawn
The fingers hide the palm.
The sting of the branch
Long lingers on
And longer will it be
Before hand reaches out again.


Coal Run – Bushwacker’s Delight

 On November 1 at 9 PM, Don, Rick, Danny and Bob set out for Otter Creek, West Virginia. Seven hours and a tank of gas later they finally arrived at their destination. It seems that they made a navigational error somewhere in the thriving metropolis of Perkins, WV. They were so intent on watching the local wildlife (2 deer and 50,000 rabbits) that they took the wrong dirt road up the mountain. They trucked along for what seemed a century, screeching around the never ending switchbacks, until suddenly the road became a trail. They immediately concluded that something was wrong and decided to turn around and try a different route. This was easier said than done. The road was about 3 feet wider than the truck and had a ditch on one side and a 1000 ft. drop on the other. They had no choice but to back up (a real trick with all the switchbacks, Dan’l Boone must have been drunk when he blazed this trail.) They finally reached a spot where they could turn the truck around if they let the tail hang over the cliff and the front hang over the ditch. This they did but not without a few heart stopping moments (it seems that sound travels slowly to sleepy ears. Don would yell stop and three minutes later Rick would hit the brakes.) After treating Bob for shock they headed back towards Perkins. Now that they knew which way not to go it wasn’t so hard to find the right road. They took the left fork this time and soon found themselves in Fornow Experimental Forest.  They parked and set up camp next to the “No camping” sign at Big Spring Gap and the sleepy hour of 4 am. 

A couple hours later the sun came up and since they didn’t have blackout curtains on the camper they gave up trying to sleep and started hiking. They followed Big Spring Gap Trail up to Otter Creek, passing through a meadow with some young spruce and a good view of Green Mountain and later passing a legion of hunters filling in the ruts on the trail so they could get their jeeps through. A little later they passed one of the hunter’s trucks on the Otter Creek trail. He had a dead dear in the truck and was quite proud of it. Not far down the trail they noticed a peculiar smell and soon came upon the putrid guts of the aforementioned deer lying right in the middle of the trail – a most unpleasant sight to say the least.

 The sounds and sights along Otter Creek soon swept the unpleasant experience from their thoughts. They stopped for a rest at a spring shaded by the lacy branches of a Carolina Hemlock. At the Green Mountain trail junction they signed the trail register under the watchful eye of a cardinal in an apple tree and a woodpecker on an old snag – two very colorful friends of the wilderness. The section of Otter Creek Trail from Green Mountain Trail to Mylius Trail is probably the most scenic area of its entire length. There are numerous deep clear pools, cascades and spectacular waterfalls (If you are condemned to hike only one trail in your life, this is the trail to pick.) The group spent about a half hour at the shelter near Devils Gulch. While sitting there in the shade of a 15 ft. tall rhododendron thicket Danny “The Physicist” asked  when we would get to see the dense rhododendron thicket that the guidebook talks about. After being informed that he was sitting in one he came up with the question, “What is the total accumulated rainfall in the world for a year?” (Would cover the state of Illinois to 3 km.) With that thought provoking question in mind they headed down the trail. Along the crest of Shavers Mountain the trail passes through some virgin hemlock and dense rhododendron. It is a really primitive atmosphere. Just before reaching the Shaver’s Mountain shelter the woods thin out and the trail becomes almost superfluous as it passes through the sparse hardwoods with little undergrowth.

 From Shavers Mountain shelter there is a great view of the mountains to the east. For a few moments at sunset Bob and Rick observed a spectacular scarlet landscape which had no doubt some time in the past inspired the song writer who wrote of “purple mountains majesty.” It was really a sight to behold. The group spent the evening reminiscing and eating popcorn that Don ‘the Sensuous’ had so generously lugged up the mountain. The night’s entertainment consisted of watching the rats run in and out from under the shelter floor. There were two of them affectionately named xxxx and xxxxx (names withheld to protect the insulted.)  As the fire burned low everyone soon fell a-snorin’ and the night passed uneventfully.

 The group slept right through sunrise and even missed the sunrise services held by two lonely gray squirrels on a stump nearby. Bob was the first one up and others soon followed his example. Don had a great idea for the day’s hike. He got the idea from Curt who must have thought it up during a nightmare. Don’s idea was to take the ‘scenic’ route by bushwhacking down Coal Run. The theory goes like this – you follow a course of 40 degrees east from some designated point on the Green Mountain Trail until you find the stream, then you follow the stream downhill to the junction with Otter Creek. The facts go like this – You crawl for a mile through incredibly thick rhododendron, then you follow the stream down an almost vertical cliff that is walled in on either side by two more vertical cliffs, you cuss yourself for not bringing a rope (to hang yourself with), then you proceed to climb down of the slimy rocks, then when the stream drops over a 200 ft. waterfall you climb out to the sides of the stream and traverse the vertical banks downward by clinging to incredibly weak vegetable holds and talus. It’s really fun if you’re insane. As an afterthought they exalted in the spectacular beauty and tranquility of the area they had just traversed. There was a general consensus that it had been an enjoyable experience in spite of the blood and bruises. Will they return there soon? Hell, no!

 Bob and Don took a frigid 30 second dip in Otter Creek. Rick and Danny had better sense. The rest of the hike was totally uneventful. In an hour or two they were back at Big Spring Gap. From there they buzzed down to Seneca Rocks to pick up those two diehard climbers, Bananas and Mike. They managed to get as far as Front Royal before their stomachs forced them into McDonalds. They walked into McDonalds reeking of that backpacker’s disease commonly known as wildernessic hikeritis. When they walked in almost everyone else walked out. The few who stayed were treated to Bananna’s rendition of the guy who couldn’t get into McDonalds because he didn’t have any shoes. According to Bananna’s he cut off his legs at the knees, walked in and ordered, “Three cheeseburgers, two tourniquets and an ambulance, please!” That cleared the house and the group finished their burgers in peace. Incredible, but true!


 Seneca Rocks Again

 Well, here we are to tell a story about good times and not so good times at Seneca.

We went to Seneca over Oct. 26-27, and two weeks prior to that date – Oct. 12-13. both Weekends gave benevolent weather with crisp, invigorating air and moon-lite nights.

Nevertheless we experienced the traditional classic Trail Club start with mucho running around and helter-skelter activities – “Do I have my knife? Did you bring matches? No? Shit!” We arrived more conveniently at 1:00 A.M. the 1st weekend, but a misplaced boot found our intrepid “Maddog” Mike in 1 ½ feet of ooo-zzzy, gooey, muddy water – face down! Seems he stumbled onto a drainpipe suspended over a slight embankment. Upon hearing a large “splash”, followed by a grumbled curse best left unsaid, he took 1 ½ hours to clean the mud off himself.

I gallantly gave up my extra jeans, socks to the beleaguered body. We then camped and climbed.

Climbing was enjoyable – Thias Direct gives 40-50 ft. of 95-100 degree rock with small holds. I almost decided to peal but a 40 ft. fall seemed an unpleasant prospect so we boogied up the crux. While 150 feet up a light drizzle forced us to decide – “to climb, or not to climb, that is the question.” Be it not for the clearing skies we would have bagged out. But alas, we continued to finish the route.

I lost $8.00 worth of equipment due to a slipped knot and fumbly hands. Mike lost a pin used solely to extract wedged nuts. Watching the belay plate miss Al and Mike, by mere feet was fascinating – for me. (I couldn’t get hit.)

After this fine weekend – we climbed Green Wall, Thias Direct (start to finish) and Roy Gap Chimneys (a crud climb) we headed back. We miss the intense color of the trees – yellow, brown, red, orange in all their brilliance. They blazed their colors down the whole valley. This sight alone was worth a 4-hour drive.

Our return to Seneca on Oct. 26-27 would also prove to be a fine good time. Fine company and good thoughts abounded. We climbed Simple J. Malarky, Westpole, and Tony’s Nightmare.

Simple J. – exposure was tremendous with the haul line for the camera floating in the wind like orange psychedelic gossamer. The vortex of leaves in the gap flew upward like unreal hordes of insects. The view was great on the South end, but signals were lost to the swirling wind. The day was brilliantly sunny and upon leaving for the pavilion on Sat. evening, Seneca Rocks shown in the sunset as a vibrant collection of slabs. Quite a beautiful sight!

Sunday proved leisurely and even though we were up by 8:00 – quite late for us, we did not pick a route till 11:00. Then we did Westpole – sustain jamming to a 5 ft. overhang. We boogied up the overhang with nary a problem and topped out near the South summit. Westpole was truly enjoyable – a fine obvious line.

Packing up early we headed back to College Park. We were calm and triumphant with out success – though we said little. I finally understand about Romero in “The Sun Also Rises.”

We can now go on to 5.7’s – a happy prospect. We were pleased with our progression and improvement. I am now forming ideas about El Cap in 2 years – I am insane. We both are! Or are we? We think not!

P.S. – Baker Rocks looks good – quite pinnacled!

W. Dacier (Banannas), Mike Rosen

 Trail Club Tip No. 3893:573750395730: On winter trips don’t forget to bring lots of dry socks, a change of shoes, and plenty of hot chocolate. Cold feet chill the rest of the camper.

Journal of an Intrepid Hiker

 During one of my more extended periods of insanity (45 days to be exact) I took a little hike on the AT. The following notes are excepts from the volumes of scribbling I did while hiking from Katahdin to Massachusetts during the summer of ’73. After reading this I find it amazing that I stayed on the trail as long as I did. (I itch just thinking about it.) The explanation for this seemingly masochistic journalism is that I always wrote in my journal at the end of the day. By that time of day all the bugs and bogs and blisters had numbed my brain and my writing reflected the feelings of my beleaguered body rather than the deeper satisfaction of solitude and wilderness which I experienced along the way. There were good times and not so good times. For what it’s worth, here are some of the juicier tidbits from my journal for that period:

(May 30, Katahdin)…The black flies are pesky when eating, but when walking they don’t bother me much…chipmunk got into food bag…He really went wild over the mincemeat, but didn’t go for the oatmeal too much…(May 31, Katahdin)…It started raining last night…Everything above the tree line was in the clouds…Before long I was soaked to the skin…the bugs are back…(June 1, Katahdin)…Decided to climb Baxter Peak…It was cloudy…Hope all my clothes dry out…They never will if it keeps on raining…(June 2, Hurd Brook)…Fell in river pack and all about 9:30…Had a couple more precarious river crossings…Trail was obscure in places…(June 3, Rainbow Lake)…The weather looks good…My right boot heal has come loose…tied it up this morning with nylon cord…seems to be working…I’m sitting in front of the fire and it seems to be keeping the bugs away…The black flies were vicious today…Had trouble with mosquitoes last night…(June 4, Patawadjo Springs)…An incredible day…Hike 16 miles through mud and gook and bugs…the bugs are getting worse…the mud and gook is about the same…This Patawadjo Springs lean-to is sitting in a mud hole…hope the bugs let up when the sun goes down…(June 5, East Branch Pleasant River)…Boot is still holding up, but leather upper near heel is working open…From Potawadjo to Cooper Brook Falls was a mosquito infested mess…Had to ford several streams and beaver flowages today…Saw a small snake today…(June 6, White Cap Mountain)…Long tiring walk today…About 15 miles with climb over White Cap Mountain…I just don’t seem to have much luck with mountains…When I started it was sunny…By the time I got to the top it was rainy, windy and cold…there was nothing to see but the clouds…(June 8, Old Stagecoach Road lean-to)…I itch all over from bug bites…Only 6 miles to Monson…I hope I can get my boot fixed…I am dying for a hamburger…I think spaghetti is my favorite dehydrated dinner…(June 9, Monson)…It was hot and buggy…the flies at this lean-to don’t seem to mind smoke…(June 10, Pleasant Pond Mountain)…this lean-to is situated on a dirt road…a pickup truck just road by…(June 11, Pierce Pond)…this is really a beautiful place…my boots are drying in the sun…I haven’t seen them this dry in a long time…(June 12, Jerome Brook)…It started raining soon after I left…there is crazy white-throated sparrow who was singing in a thunderstorm a while ago…The bugs don’t seem too bad yet…I may get by without a head net tonight…(June13, Mt. Avery)…Stepped in mud up to my knee this morning…(June 14, Mt. Sugarloaf)…Had some fantastic views this morning from West Peak and The Horn…Really unbelievable…the jury rig on my boot is still holding up well…I don’t know whether I can trust the roof of this shelter…The guidebook says it was built by the CCC in 1937 and it looks like it….Just discovered that the roof was leaking so I moved over a little and found it was leaking in another place and dripping right on my head…So I have to put up my tube tent inside the shelter…(June 15, Poplar Ridge lean-to)…It was wet, cold, and windy (30-40 mph, at least) going over Mt. Sugarloaf, the second highest peak in Maine… No bugs at all here…(June 16, Piazza Rock lean-to…) A miserable day… Rainy and cold…and worst of all a good portion of the hike today was on open ridges and summits. It was an extremely wet and windy walk in the clouds…My sleeping bag got a little wet…My shirt and sweater are soaked…(June17, Sabbath Day Pond)…Started out with a little of yesterday’s chill in my bones…Spent a couple hours in Rangely…Had bacon and eggs and later hamburger and fries…washed clothes and dried sleeping bag…(June 18, Elephant Pond lean-to)…This place is really well supplied with flies…I am in my sleeping bag with sweatshirt and head net and gloves to keep them off…They are pesky though just buzzing around and I itch just thinking about them…(June 19, Frye Brook)…17 miles today…tired feet…(June 20, Speck Pond)…Climbed two really big mountains today…Had peanut butter and jelly with the caretaker here…(June 21, Mahoosuc Notch)…Today was really fascinating and rough…Went through Mahoosuc Notch—a precipitous boulder filled gorge. Took about two hours to go one mile…Scraped my elbows up slipping down a slope this afternoon…Hope to go into Gorham for a hamburger at McDonalds…(June 22, Rattle River)…Stopped in Gorham and called home to arrange for new boots…(June 23, Imp Shelter)…These mountains are high and the views are great…this shelter is about 3500 ft. and there was a great sunset…(June 24, Pinkham Notch)…Arrived at Pinkham Notch about 6 pm. Was a couple hundred yards away when I heard the dinner bell ringing…Got excited and made a wrong turn in a swamp…Barely made it in time for dinner…I’m having the bill sent home…This is really great…(June 25, Mount Madison)…Climbed Mt. Madison which is over a mile high…had some very rewarding views…(June 26, Mt. Washington)…Hiked all day above tree line…It was really clear and had some great views…Called home from the summit house on Mt. Washington(6288 ft.)…(June 27, Ethan Pond)…Short hike to Ethan Pond leanto…(June 28, Guyot Shelter)…Felt a little weak and cut it short at Guyot Shelter…(June 29, Galehead Hut)…Rotten weather…Stopped at Galehead Hut and asked for a handout (peanut butter and Jelly sandwich)…the wind and rain got real bad…(June 30, Galehead Hut)…It blew and rained all night and all day today…Had no choice but to stay here and hope the weather improves…Can’t go over Mt. Lafeyette or Mt. Lincoln in the foul weather…(July 1, Liberty Spring)…Am now in my tube tent…This last week has been the roughest and most spectacular of the trip…Should make Glencliff by Wednesday…Can hardly wait for the new boots…Will be a real pleasure to get rid of these junky boots…(July 2, Eliza Brook)…Boot is really getting bad…Took a dip in Eliza brook when I got here…Really felt good…(July 3, Beaver Brook lean-to)…A fairly difficult trip over the Kinsman Mountains…(July 4, Great Bear Cabin)…This is a real cozy place…(July 5, Wauchipauka lean-to)…Finally made it to Glencliff…First thing I did was peel off the old boots and put on the new…There is a great view of Mt. Moosilauke from the outhouse…(July 6, Smarts Mtn.)…18.3 miles today…(July 7, Hanover)…Today was all fouled up…Got as far as Holt’s Ledge and got lost… followed ski trail down to road…(July 8, Cloudland)…Nice place… Stopped at general store in West Hartford and had a quart of sherbet and three cokes and a bag of bbq chips…very hot today…the thermometer at the store read 101…(July 9, Stony Brook lean-to)…It was very hot with much walking through open farm fields in the baking sun…(July 10, Pico Camp)…Short hike of 10 miles today…(July 11, Sunnyside Shelter)…16 miles today…(July 12, Peru Peak lean-to)…19.5 miles today…a guy at Lost Pond lean-to gave us a hotdog this afternoon…Passed the 500 mile mark today…May have to call for more money…(July 13, Sweezy lean-to)… Got a coke at Bromley Mtn. Ski lift…Didn’t sleep too well last night because of the porcupines…(July 14, Story Brook lean-to)…Should leave Vermont tomorrow…Got some rain last night…(June 15, Glastonbury Mountain)…Came as far as Glastonbury lean-to… It rained all morning and was so cold and when we got here we decided to stay…I have decided today that I will leave for home tomorrow on Route 9 just before leaving Vermont. My pack is jabbing me in the back and is in bad shape, and I know I couldn’t stand it with the big load at Cheshire…also the sole of my boots are beginning to peel at the toe. It won’t be long before they were flapping. Don’t regret ending here after 548 miles…Am looking forward to some good home cooking.

And so ended a most enjoyable hike. Really!

Rick Holt

 Black Forest Trail – Pennsylvania

 Over the Thanksgiving holiday three trail-clubbers Bob Theodore, Dennis O’Niell and myself, plus tow Harford Community College students Jim and Rich M. spent three days backpacking along the Black Forest Trail up near Williamsport, Pa. The Black Forest Trail is a circuit trail about 40-50 miles long, which winds along ridge tops and creeks. It passes through a variety of scenery. There are, of course, plenty of the old standby trees like oak, maple and beech, but the trail also passes through some stands of birch whose chalky white bark brighten the already bright snow covered woods. In contrast, the trail passes through some dense pine growth where even the light snow covers does little to brighten things up. There are some open marshy meadows with sparse scatterings of trees. And there were plenty of vistas all along the trail, which provided views of the surrounding hills.

The Weather for the trip was generally quite cold. At 10 AM on Saturday we saw a thermometer on a hunter’s cabin which read 15*F. There was a light covering of snow and occasional flurries all through the weekend. On Sunday we got more than just flurries. The snow came on full force dropped an inch or more before we left Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday we saw quite a few deer. We had been seeing lots of tracks all along but in a period of about 30 minutes we saw a dozen deer. They all seemed to be on the move. Some, of course, were running because we spooked them, but others ran across our path and seemed oblivious to our presence. Perhaps they sensed that deer season would open in two days. Besides the deer we saw very little wildlife. There were some birds but they were widely scattered. On Sunday we found a sparrow frozen in the snow in the middle of the trail. This area is also supposed to be good rattlesnake country. But during this cold weather trip there were no snakes to be seen. During the summer this is reported to be a popular place for rattlesnake hunts.

We left Sunday afternoon during the snowstorm. We had to drive for about an hour with snow chains on to get out of the mountains. Once we got back in the low country the roads were clear. The traffic coming north in the mountains as we were going south was just incredible. Everybody and his brother must have been coming up to Pennsylvania for the opening day of deer season. There was a constant bumper-to-bumper flow of trucks and jeeps full of hunters on the back roads. It was definitely a good time to be leaving the woods. It won’t be safe there for quite a while.

Rick Holt

 Further Adventures of “The Sensuous” and “The Fletch”

Some time in the past that was not too far removed from the present, Don and Rick went tramping in the Flatrock Plains area of Dolly Sods. We spent Friday night at Seneca because that’s where we dumped Bananas and Mike, but mostly because that’s where we ran out of gas. Saturday we buzzed up to the Sods and tried to follow the Red Creek Plains Trail. Got fouled up somewhere along the line and ended up on F.S. 70. Followed this dirt road down to the gasoline swath and headed south up the swath. All of the sudden the clouds socked in and it began to pour. We said, “Oh, Shucks!” and set up our tents on the spot. We spent the next 18 hours sitting in our tents eating cheese and crackers, listening to the wind and rain, reading the Dolly Sods guidebook, and generally freezing to death. Sunday (when in finally came – it seemed like forever) dawned clear and cool. We decided to enjoy it while it lasted, so we grabbed a daypack and headed toward Mt. Porte Crayon. Had a pleasant hike for a couple hours. We stopped occasionally to munch on blueberries and some other berries (they were black and looked like raspberries and tasted quite good). Just as we got within spittin’ distance of Mt. Porte Crayon, the clouds moved in and fogged the view. We decided to head back while we could still see where we were going. Of course, soon after we turned around the sun came out again. We kept going anyway since time was getting short. Back at the gasoline swath we broke camp and ate lunch and relaxed. We then hiked out at a grueling pace, which we later calculated to be 4 mph. Somehow we made it without collapsing and rolled back to Seneca Rocks where we picked up Bananas and Mike – from there to Tastee Freeze, then home.

 Rick and Don

 Cranberry Backcountry – X-mas Break

 On Friday, Dec. 27 after surviving a week of vacation in the local area seven snow bugs set off for Cranberry Backcountry equipped with 3 pair of skis and 4 of snowshoes. The weatherman was saying warm and rainy but we prayed he’d be wrong and took off. By 2 or 3 AM we reached our destination, set up camp and were gone until mid-day Saturday. We woke to see piles of hunter’s debris –complete with copies of “Outdoor Life” – strewn about the landscape. Ignoring this as much as possible we ate and then set out down FS 108 heading for North Fork Shelter. Dennis, Steve and Bob tried out the skis with packs, not enough snow for snowshoes though so Dan, Rick, Don and I had to walk. It was one mile to the gate blocking the road – here we saw the hunter’s mule drawn wagon first seen by Eric Erbe. From there the sign says 4 ½ miles to the first shelter. Reached the first shelter and swore we hadn’t gone any 4 miles but set up camp anyway. (We later found South Fork Shelter was our home – only 2 ½ miles from gate.) That evening some of us took a moonlight hike on down the road, the full moon shining on the snow and river was beautiful.

Next morning all but McKinney set out for North Fork Shelter and beyond to Tumbling Rock Shelter. Coming out from there was a group who told us they’d left some food at N. fork – no kidding! We found a store at the shelter complete with marshmallows, walnuts, pistachios, cheese, soup, butter, hash browns, soap, matches,…We took advantage of the store for lunch and then went to the North-South Trail where we got some great ridge-top views. We lost the trail on the way up and ended up at a coal shaft – in great condition, a possibility for cavers. Retracing our steps we again found the trail and had a good though tiring hike almost to the top – by the way this was the only sunny afternoon we had but it hadn’t rained. That night we got light rain but it stopped by morning.

The next day we hiked the North-South Trail out to the Scenic Highway. The trail lived up to Cranberry reputation – beautiful pine forests and moss and very wet. There was snow but the trail was boggy so still the skis and snowshoes stayed on our backs. The trail ended on (I think it was) Blackrock Mt. From whence a F.S. road leads down to North Fork Shelter. Don wasn’t well so he decided to hitchhike back to the truck. The rest of us headed down and for the first ¾ mile were able to use our snowshoes and skis – it was great! Rick whipped on ahead. Bob, Dennis, Steve and I followed slower and by nightfall got to Hunter’s Run where, exhausted, we set up camp, ate and sacked out. Rick had gotten to Hunter’s Run Shelter (just a bit up the road). Dan was expecting us at North Fork Shelter, and Don was back at the truck.

That night it rained again and this time it didn’t stop by morning. We forced ourselves to get up and set up to go back as far as South Fork, expecting to meet Rick and Dan on the way. At North Fork Shelter we rechecked the store, it’s supplies much reduced and then went on to South Fork Shelter. We ran into a park service truck collecting garbage who told us two guys were at South Fork. Arriving however the place was deserted – but there a bunch of real potatoes and some margarine. Steve went on to the truck while Bob, Dennis and I moved in and began to prepare a New Year’s feast.

Beyond this, mutiny set in – the truck 4 decided to head home away from the cold and wet – the shelter 3 wanted to stay—but majority (including the driver) won and we left at about 8 pm New Year’s Eve. 7-11 provided beer and munchies for our brief celebration, then the passengers fell promptly asleep. We arrived home at 3 AM from what was actually an ok trip – if only there had been 24 instead of 4 inches of snow.



Upon making an unplanned and unwanted Christmas trip back to the land of my birth, I knew I was back in Texas when:

1)      I saw a car with a “God Bless John Wayne” bumper sticker.

2)      People asked me if I were a “hippy” and offered to buy me a haircut and a shave.

3)      Students were still wearing “Bong the Cong” and “A VC a day keeps the commies away” sweatshirts.

4)      The tallest buildings were grain elevators.

5)      People said Nixon may have had some bad people under him, but really everything was all a frame-up by communist eastern newspapers and other subversives.

6)      The lack of rain last summer was attributed to “God’s will” rather than the upper atmospheric wind patterns.

7)      A cop pulled me over and instead of saying “May I see your driver’s license, Sir”, he (it?) spit tobacco juice on my front left tire and said, “Well boy, you got your Yankee lookin’ ass in a heap o’ trouble now.”

 I never thought I’d see the day when I was glad to return home to Riverdale, Md.


I’m Miserable, Right
Mudshoeing at Cranberry
The Edge of Night

 ON Friday December 27 at about 8 PM, seven of us rendezvoused at the Student Union for a trip to Cranberry BackCountry. The idea was that we would hopefully find some portion of this West Virginia Wilderness buried under enough snow so that we could make like Eskimos on snowshoes(don, Jo, Rick, Dan) and on cross country skis(Bob, Denise and Steve). This also meant that besides fitting seen people in the truck we also had to squeeze in seven backpacks, 4 sets of snowshoes, 6 skis and 6 ski poles. By 9 PM we had kersmunched e everybody and everything into my truck and we settle down for the long ride. Everything went fine for a couple hours, then as we screeched around a turn half way up a Virginia mountain, the back door of the truck flew open. This freaked out the otherwise unfreakable occupants in the back of the camper. They pounded frantically on the back window of the cab of the truck and finally convinced me to stop (to keep my window from being broken if not to see what was wrong.) With that situation rectified we buzzed merrily along until one of the unfreakable got almost but not quite seasick and decided he had better sit up front where the portholes don’t have screens. That was the last real excitement of the ride. Somewhere in the vicinity of 4 AM and Cranberry Glades we came to an ice covered road. This precluded further travel until we put on the snow chains. We parked at the bottom of the icy hill in the small parking lot that we hoped was the one we were looking for and settled down for a good night’s (morning’s) sleep.

Saturday dawned a little cloudy but thee was no rain or snow all day. There was a residual accumulation of 6 or 8 inches of snow from the last snow storm. This provided enough snow for the skiers to test their skills for most of the distance to the first shelter on FS 102. All they had to do was dodge the car ruts and melt spots. Denis and Steve persisted on skis all the way to the shelter. Bob decided part way there that it would be easier to walk. The rest of us had no choice but to trudge along on foot, since snowshoeing would have been a little ridiculous.

Don and I stayed back to help push a van that got stuck on the icy hill. After getting him out we hiked down 102 to the Glades boardwalk and decided to hike around the loop. It proved to be an interesting diversion. The Glades boardwalk provides access to an otherwise impenetrable boggy area. The trail passed through an area reminiscent of the artic tundra and represents the southernmost range of many northern plants. There are cranberry bogs, sphagnum moss and who knows what else. Along  the trail there are markers which describe the different plants and wildlife you might see. This is a good trail to put on your list of ‘places to visit’. Don and I trucked on down 102 and passed up Denise and Steve who were learning the finer points of cross-country skiing the hard way. At South Fork Shelter we regrouped and settled down for the evening. Some of the more ambitious members of our group took a moonlight hike (Bob, Jo, and Denise if my memory serves me right). And so ended our first day on the trail.

Sunday was a repeat of Saturday as far as the weather is concerned. We had a little more sun in the afternoon but otherwise it was cloudy. Dan stayed behind at the shelter as the rest of us hiked up 102 to North Fork shelter where we had lunch and feasted on the goodies left by the last group of people who camped there (they must have left $10 worth of food – marshmallows, peanuts, chocolate, walnuts, cheese…and more). We consumed most of it on the spot and packed away what we thought we could use. We left a note at the forks for Dan and hiked down 102 to Tumbling Run Shelter. This section of trail follows along the Cranberry River and is quite scenic. At the shelter we decided we had enough daylight left to reach the North-South Trail on the ridge. We left another not for Dan and headed up the Tumbling Rock Trail. A little later we passed an old coal mine and continued for a short distance further along a very nondescript trail. It didn’t take us long to realize we were on the wrong trail. We back tracked and found our mistake and moved on a little behind schedule. Since we had to cross a few streams along the way I decided to fall in one of them (just for kicks of course, the “Fletch” never falls.) Dark closed in on us before we reached the top of the ridge so we set up camp at the first nearly flat spot we could find. We stomped down the snow and set up the tents just in time to see a fantastic sunset. The clouds glowed orange for a spectacular few moments.

Monday we were a little slow getting started. An early morning rain kept us in our tents for a while. We hit the trail about 11 AM and reached the top of the ridge in a short while. From there we followed the North-South trail to the East. We had planned to take a trail down from the ridge that would have made a 9 mile circuit, but we missed our turn and ended up on top of Black Mountain at FS 76. This was actually a helpful mistake. At 4600 feet Black Mountain was the first place we had found enough snow for good skiing and snowshoeing. It was also close enough to Highway 150 that Don could hitchhike back to the truck. He had a sore throat and couldn’t eat to keep up his strength.

It was a little too cool for standing around up there for me, so I hopped into my snowshoes and headed down 76 thinking the others were going to spend a little time trying out their skis and would spend the night up there. I made it down to Hunting Creek Shelter just before dark, but the others who decided to come down off the mountain ran out of daylight before they got that far. So on this particular evening our group was spread out all over the place – Don at the truck, Dan at North Fork Shelter (he never caught up with us and spent Sunday and Tumbling Rock Shelter), myself at Hunting Creek Shelter, and Denise, Steve and Jo somewhere along FS 76.

Tuesday was a miserable day. It started raining soon after daylight. I packed up and hiked up to North Fork Shelter and met Dan and together we hiked out to meet Don at the truck. Thinking that the others might have camped at the top of Black Mountain and might still be there waiting there for the rain to let up we drove up the scenic highway and walked in to check. Well, of course, they weren’t there since they had actually camped not far from the shelter where I stayed. We concluded that they were on their way out and would be out sometime in the afternoon. Since it was New Years Eve we decided we had better get the gas tank filled in case we got a late start. We drove to the nearest town and got some gas and stopped at a restaurant for lunch. We also stopped by a Laundromat to dry our we clothes. The locals really freaked out seeing me in hiking shorts and gaiters and Dan in sweatpants. Giggle. Giggle.

When we got back to the Glades we found Steve. He had hiked out to the parking lot looking for the truck and when he found we were gone he began hiking back to the shelter where Denise, Bob and Jo planned to spend the night. We gave Steve some dry clothes and Dan and I hiked in to South Fork Shelter to convince the others that it was in their best interest to hike the mile and a half out to the truck and head home. I don’t believe we did much convincing as they were already in their sleeping bags, but they did pack up and come along and we hiked out by flashlight to the truck. We were on the road by 8 PM. The New Year came and went as we were trucking along I-81 somewhere in Virginia and by 5 AM I was home, in bed and dead.


 Manna from Heaven

(An anecdote as told to Rick by that famous outdoorsman “Don- the Sensuous” with a few minor revisions due to a lapse in memory.)

On a recent trip to Cranberry Backcountry Don came down with a sore throat and decided to cut his hike short and hitchhike out. He made it back to my truck and spent the night in the camper – snug and warm in spite of the rain and cold outside. He was fixing himself breakfast the next morning and realized he was out of water. He didn’t want to go out in the rain to fetch any so he sat there pondering the situation. Well, as the story goes, at about that moment or somewhere therabout, a stream of water came gushing out of the light on the roof of the camper. Don grabbed the nearest container and filled it up. Virginia, there is a wolf.

P.S. – Just to set the record straight, that light always has and probably always will leak.

 Lost and Found

The following items were found on New Year’s Day in the back of my truck:

Anyone wishing to claim these items may do so at his own risk.


 Ye Old Bushwhacking Torture
January 11, 1975

 There is still a place in the eastern U.S. where one needs a good topographic map and a compass to climb a mountain. There is also a place where it still snows in January. The place is Mt. Porte Crayon in West Virginia, the top of which three brave young men, a Steve and two Bobs, set out to reach over the last weekend of winter vacation.

Apparently, hardly anybody knows where Crayon is; I’ll go against my grain and tell you. Mt. Porte Crayon is the second highest peak in West Virginia, 4770 feet, about 15 miles north of Spruce Knob in the southern section of Dolly Sods. We reached the area by going west on US 33 from Seneca Rocks then turning right on a jeep road about a mile beyond the pass. The jeep road is passable for about a mile, although we foolishly tried to go further. Since it had rained the night before we began encountering axle deep mud. We decided to turn back and leave the car on dry land. And believe it or not we did manage to turn the thing around after about twenty minutes of spinning wheels, sliding out of control in mud and almost burning up the clutch. We started hiking about 11:30 from an elevation of 3200 feet.

If you remember the weather Saturday, it was a nice pleasant summer day. It hit 75 in DC, and even in W. Va. it was in the 50’s. You couldn’t ask for a clearer day, although the wind was beginning to roar on the Roaring Plains.

There is a trail up to the Roaring Plains, but we decided to follow fields straight up the ridge. It was a hard climb. Each time we reached what appeared to be the crest of the ridge we saw a short level stretch and then another hill. When we got to the Plains at about 4200 feet we had our first glimpse of the summit, a beautiful gently sloping knob covered with large spruce trees. There were beautiful views on all sides, it was very windy, but warm, so that only a few scattered snowdrifts remained.

Our plan was to follow the fields marked on the map to the base of the knob and then bushwhack through the spruce to the top. Unfortunately we never found the fields, probably because they don’t exist. So before long we were thrashing through thick spruce forests, struggling in the general direction of north. But there was more to make the going bruising. The snow cover under the trees was about a foot deep, enough to cover the holes between rocks. Also it being over 50 degrees, the melting snow had given rise to all kinds of creeks and swamps. After about an hour of such masochistic bushwhacking, the terrain became level, leading us to believe that we were at the top. Since there was no clearing we couldn’t be sure.  So continuing north a few hundred yards we came to an area of low trees, and brush. And there, about a half mile ahead was the summit. We had just climbed the secondary peak!

Well, the idea of hacking our way through these woods for another hour was about as appealing as trying to swim the Blackwater River in December. Anyway it was 3 O’clock and we still had a 3-hour hike back. So we decided to head off to the northwest and find some fields back to the edge of the plateau. As usual though, things didn’t go as planned. The going got pretty easy, with only an occasional swamp or snowdrift. Before long we found ourselves at the base of the summit with only a short stretch of forest between us and the top. It was irresistible now. We headed up the steep incline and soon found the benchmark at the highest elevation. The forest was so thick it could have passed for nighttime. Needless to say there weren’t any views. The snow was about 14 inches deep and it was freezing cold, despite the generally warm day.

Well, make yourself comfortable and grab another beer, because the tale of the reckless mountaineers is not over yet. You see we had about an hour and a half to get back before dark (it took 4 hours to climb up), and we still hadn’t figured out how to avoid that bone crunching hike over the secondary peak. What did we do? We sat there and ate M&M’s for 15 minutes, of course. Then we gathered together our common sense (or lack thereof) and struck out to the southeast in search of an old jeep path. After a half hour of following the compass to overcome the urge to walk in circles, we found the trail. It was late, cold, windy and our feet were thoroughly soaked from water and snow. As if to rub salt in our wounds, the jeep trail crossed about three creeks every hundred yards. No there weren’t any bridges!

Now everyone knows the old woodsman’s rule that the trail gets harder to find the later it gets or the farther you have to go. So, needless to say, we lost the trail and found ourselves following a railroad grade in the wrong direction! The sun was setting, our feet were soaked, and we were without food, sleeping bags, flashlights or a tent. There was no way we could spend the night.

Well, by this time you probably really believe that we became the first victims of Porte Crayon. But alas, it’s about time I started telling the truth. We found the trail going straight up a creek bed, and soon made our way back to the fields overlooking the valley. We’d been to the top and come back alive. But as we contemplated going back for another semester at the U. of Md. we kind of wished we hadn’t made it back.

Bob Enagonio

 Climbing (?) at Carterock

On Saturday Jan 4th I called my friend Steve to see if he would like to go for a hike along the Hemlock Gorge Trail in Gunpowder State Park. Instead of going hiking though he talked me into going climbing at Carterock. My most ambitious climb of the day was about a 5-0 (maybe next time I’ll try something more challenging like a 5-.000000001). I spent most of the day belaying the crazy people who insisted on mutilating themselves on Impossible and Buckets o’Blood. The latest craze at Carterock is tree climbing. The trees are now all marked up with chalk. Who will be the first to conquer the left face of the north fork of the dead oak? It still stands unconquered. As for me I’ll stick to the ground. The drive home on 495 was about a 5-9.


 Sunday, January 11th

Called Pickett to wake him up for a caving trip.

HE WAS AWAKE! (shock) He’d been up all night making Jerry’s tent and so bagged out. Picked up cable ladder and instructions to Hensly (infamous cave) and proceeded to Bill’s the long way, meeting him and Grayson an hour late. Got to Hensley and Cel and I went down and waited for the others. Grayson started down the narrow vertical crack and decided to get out while he could. That ended that cave.

We then proceeded to Helsy with newly posted No Trespassing signs. We tried to find the owner for half an hour, gave up and went back to the cave. We joined up with some people who had permission and went in. Headed into the breakdown for an hour long obstacle course. Then we went into the mud room and into the back were we practiced sculpturing blah-blahs for a while. Wandered around for a little longer and went out into the freezing rain to change into ‘clean dry clothes’. Ended at the Good Food Diner for dinner (eatable). Arrived home too late for Sunday night.

Kathy and Cel

 Barefoot on the Sods

Gumfordson’s Law strikes again – the sky will fall snow in direct proportion to the lack of snowshoes. You guessed it. Seven of us set sail Friday, Jan 17th to spend a balmy weekend on the Sods and deluged with snow instead. Would you believe it took us 6 hours to get to Laneville? Well, believe it. Everything went fine till we got to FS 19. Then for every 10 yards we went forward the truck would slide back 5 yards (and that was with snow chains on.) At first it was just ice slowing us down, but as we got higher on the mountain the snow got deeper and deeper. Finally all forward progress stopped. We just sat there with the back wheels spinning. The chain came off the left wheel and there we sat. We couldn’t go forward and when we tried to back we kept sliding perilously close to the precipitous road’s edge. While Mark and Paul held their breath I backed the truck down and with a little luck managed to get it turned around and headed back down the hill. The slide downhill was anticlimactic. When we got back down to the stop sign at Rt. 28 we woke up our four cohorts who were sleeping in the back of the truck (Bob, Karen, Cindy and Dennis) and informed them of the excitement that they had just missed. (I understand from an informed source –Bob- that they weren’t really sleeping, they were in a state of shock from holding their breath too long.) We decided to take the backway into Laneville, which required a considerable detour. Rt. 45 was also snow and ice covered but it wasn’t steep enough to cause any real trouble. Finally after 6 or 7 hours of driving (we spent an hour on FS 19 alone) we arrived at Laneville. Five of us squeezed in the back of the truck and Bob and Dennis slept outside. Not much more than an hour later we heard this pounding on the door – “It’s snowing out here, make room for another sardine.” So we let Dennis in the back of the camper (that’s six people sleeping there at once, a trip record. There just wasn’t enough room for Bob so he climbed up front in the cab. When we awoke on Saturday there was an extra 2 inches of snow on the ground and it was still snowing big juicy flakes.

Nobody brought snowshoes on this trip so we didn’t expect to get too far (and we didn’t). We took the high water trail up to Little Stonecoal trail. Crossing Little Stonecoal was a bit tricky. It was iced over part way and covered with snow. We walked upstream and found a tolerably good crossing (49.9999% chance of crossing without getting wet.) With that minor obstacle out of the way we headed up Little Stonecoal trail. The snow got deeper as we went higher and it snowed all the while. About half way to the top Cindy decided that this masochistic endeavor was not her cup of tea. So with a few reservations I let her and Paul, who volunteered to accompany her, go back to spend the weekend in the camper. It turns out that it is a lucky thing they went back. When they got back they found that we had left the light on inside the camper. The rest of us trudged on up to Dunkenbarger Run trail. The snow there was knee deep and the trail was totally obscure. We spent a lot of time fanned out in the woods looking for blazes and trail markers. After many wrong turns and endless backtracking we finally reached Dunkenbarger Run.  This stream was frozen over too and some of the group got wet feet in the process of negotiating the acrobatic crossing. It was getting late and we were getting cold so we camped in a spruce grove near the stream. It was a really pretty and sheltered spot, and it is a nice place to camp in foul weather. (If you’d like to find it here’s how: going north on Dunkenbarger Run trail, cross the stream and then head to the left and follow the stream. Just ahead on a knoll you’ll see a grove of evergreens, you have to cross a small streamlet to get there. Search around and you’ll find a nice flat spot where the lower branches of the trees have been trimmed off. There is room for 3 or 4 tents.

Soon after we set up the tents the snow changed to rain. We spent a wet cold night listening to the wind and rain. For once, my tent didn’t blow down and Dennis and I were the driest of the bunch by morning. Sunday dawned in a reasonably tolerable manner. We even had a little sun and wind to dry things out. Dennis and I went for a morning stroll and followed some deer tracks for about a mile. We found where they had pawed the ground looking for forage and we also found some yellow snow and a scenic pile of deer turds on the snow. We got back to camp and found Bob, Mark and Karen walking around in circles to keep warm. After packing up we headed out via Big Stonecoal trail. Crossing Big Stonecoal  Run was exhilarating and cathartic. It required trusting your dryness to a ledge of ice, which covered half the stream, and then jumping the rest of the way. We negotiated it with great caution and everybody made it without a hitch. Hiking down along Big Stonecoal trail we met Paul and Cindy who were out for a morning stroll from the camper. When we got back to the truck it was beginning to snow again. Everybody crossed their fingers as I tried to start the truck (remember the light we left on?) Well, to shorten this already too long story, the truck started right up and we got out of there real quick-like. Rts. 32 and 33 were already covered by light snow, which make driving treacherous. Ask Dennis and Mark about the scenic turn on Rt. 33 where we almost got a close-up view of a rock wall. I’m sure they’ll have a few choice words. Past Mouth of Seneca the roads were clear and the snow changed to rain.

We had supper at the “Good Food Diner” in Front Royal where we met a group of fellow trail clubbers who were just back from a caving trip to Fieldhouse. I must say they looked the park, but then so did we. Well, dats dat.


Serious and not so serious stuff

New River

At the formal meeting of 15 January 1975, mention was made by Al Pickett of a letter sent to the Federal Power Commission by the Department of the Interior regarding the New River Project. Being employed by the FPC, I decided to investigate the record of the project, and I thought I would pass along some of what I’ve learned.

The proposed daming of the New River (referred to as P-2317) began as far back as June o 1962, they applied to the commission for a license to build the hydroelectric project, referred to as the Blue Ridge power project.

On October 1, 1969, after over 2 years of hearings, there was an initial decision in favor of granting the license. (If there is no opposition to an initial decision it becomes final in 40 days.) In less than three weeks there were serious objections. The case was reopened and there were more hearings.

In June of 1971 there was a second initial decision in favor of granting the license (by the same judge may I point out.) Once again there was opposition on points well founded enough to deserve more hearings.

On December 13, 1971, the five FPC commissioners (three of which are still with the commission) visited the site of the proposed project, and really made a day of it. They flew down by military helicopters. They inspected the lower dam site area (immediately upstream of the Rt. 58 bridge, west of Galax, Va.) and then the upper dam site area (3 ½ miles southwest of Independence, Va. , flown down the river, and then back to DC. All in a day’s work, I wonder what the water level was for that day?

In 1972 hearings were held on environmental issues while the FPC staff worked on an Environmental Impact Statement, which was filed on June 18, 1973.

On January 23, 1974, a third initial decision was issued. This time the commission decided t affirms the initial decision, over all objections and issue the license, which is exactly what they did. The order (Order No. 698) was issued on June 14, 1974. In the order (p. 51) are listed some of the adverse effects on the environment caused by the project: “A free-flowing stream would be partially lost;” (some 70 miles of it) “2700 people would be forced to move; close to 40,000 acres of handsome rolling countryside would be inundated.” And as if to balance it: “But simultaneously electric power would be produced – power that is and will be sorely needed by American consumers for the purpose, among many other, of improving the environment.” Now, I ask, since when to we have to destroy to improve?

However, the effective date of the license was put off until January 2, 1975, to give the 93rd Congress an opportunity to act upon a proposed bill (S. 2439) which would have set aside that part of the New River for study as a potential part of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers system. Of course, we know how much action the 93rd Congress took on the bill.

On August 12, 1974, the commission denied a motion for reconsideration of the Order. On December 16, 1974, the State of North Carolina filed a motion for stay of the effective date of the license pending an appeal. The motion was denied on December 31, 1974.

The letter Pickett referred to was dated January 7, 1975 and it is an eloquent appeal to the FPC for more time to study a total of “23 species of plants and animals from this ecosystem which are found nowhere else in the world.” Then they proceed to quote relevant sections of the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

The FPC reply to this letter (January 15, 1975) says in effect that the FPC has followed all the rules, and has considered all the points brought up by the Interior Department, and has decided that more electric power is more important than these 23 species of plants and animals.

There are at present two requests for stay of construction pending in the District of Columbia Circuit Court and the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, but to date there has been no injunction issued to stay construction.

All we can do now is write our congressman, cross our fingers and pray.

---- Joanne Ronning, 22 January 1975

P.S. Anyone who wants to look at the information I’ve collected just let me know, there is quite a stack of it.


(can’t see any reason to transcribe this list of about 16 names and addresses since they are all outdated. If anyone is curious just drop me a line.) Name listed are: Arthur Abrams, Andrew S. Bridge, Carol Cunningham, Bill (Bananas) Dacier, Daniel and Ellen Gluck, Lisa Grul, Donald Jones, R. Scott Lawrence, Vita Magos, Robert J. Mascio, Al Pickett, Clare Schommer, Janet Simmons, Jo Smith, Jean Strom.

 What is Trail Club?

Since the new semester is upon us and with it are coming new members, it seems appropriate to explain our group. Trail Club is a loosely organized bunch of outdoors enthusiasts involved in caving, climbing, backpacking, canoeing, trail skiing, biking… Trips are planned at the meetings of the week they go out or maybe a week in advance. The typical trip announcement goes something like this: I’m going to ________ this weekend leaving Friday night about X time. This is a (activity) trip suitable for (anyone or experienced). If you’re interested see me after the meeting. Transportation is by private cars with everyone splitting the gas cost. Food is an individual matter unless you go together with someone. You don’t have to be a member to go on trips. The club also has two annual parties – Halloween and Ground Hogs Day.

In addition to trips, Trail Club has equipment for rental so that new people can try things out without having to invest in a lot of equipment before they know what they want. Prices are far below the local camping stores. Paid members (dues are $2 per year) get half price on rental equipment. We have a map file and library, which can be used by contacting either Drew or Curt during the week or after a meeting. Membership also entitles you to a discount at a couple canoe rental places.

Trail club meetings are held every Wednesday night at 7:30 pm year round. They will bein room 1135 of Student Union this semester and somewhere in S.U. in summer and beyond – so drop in any time you feel like it. We also have an office in the S. U. attic (all the way at the top stairs by tobacco shop) where we post future trips and other info on our bulletin board.

Any questions? Don’t be afraid to ask. The best way to get to know people in the club is to go on a few trips so please don’t be shy.


That’s it folks -------- biggest Anteater in a long time. Thanks to everyone who contributed.


 The Cranberry Funnies (click below)

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