Archive for the ‘Hiking’ Category

Dec 2010 Backpack at Rogers

The group did the snow-dance prior to this trip, and boy did it work!

Four of us drove up Friday afternoon and enjoyed views of the sunset colors peeking out from under the clouds rolling in over Rogers as we hiked in from Massey Gap. The temp’s were in the low 30’s and dropping. We had enough snow on the ground already, plus frost-heave, to make the hike in a little toilsome. Our goal was to make Cabin Ridge and stay there all weekend.

From the fence stile at the north edge of Grayson Highlands SP, we turned left on the horse trail. Just before the first good stream crossing is a nice open area. With the wind blowing mightily in the tress overhead, we quickly agreed to COP’s suggestion that we just camp there. We’ve often hiked past this spot and thought it would be nice to stay there. Friday night seemed like the perfect time to do so!

We pitched two tents and laid out Cookieman’s bivy sack before piling into COP’s tent to finish off our gourmet Subway sandwiches and orange-chocolate cookies. We shot the (chilly) breeze until after the requisite 9pm and then settled back in our respective burrows for a night of listening to the snow crystals falling on the tent, the wind rushing through the trees, and the sound of COP snoring.

Saturday dawned with snow still falling. We had about 3 inches of fresh snow at that point. While I was struggling to make slow-bake biscuits, Michele and Beau arrived, and shortly afterwards Doc and Pat appeared out of the snowflakes. We pitched the Tarp and made a makeshift home to gather under.

The precip continued all afternoon, alternating in various combinations of sleet, snow and rain. Waynger wasn’t feeling well, so he hiked out. Shortly thereafter COP starting feeling sick and retreated to the comfort of his tent. The rest of us sat under the tarp and took hikes to keep warm. We had some homemade beef stew and later had chili for dinner. We all retired fairly early.

I got cozy warm in my down sleeping bag and drifted off to the sound of sleet and snow pitter-pattering on my tent. Sometime during the night I noticed the sound of silence, and then noticed a darker darkness than we had the night before. I soon realized both were the result of several more inches of snow accumulated on top of my tent.

Cookieman moved his bivy sack under the tarp and managed not to get covered completely by snow during the night, although he did report having the foot end of the tarp settle down on him under the weight of the snow.

In the morning we dug ourselves out and indirectly decided as a group that we weren’t having pancakes for breakfast and were simply packing up and heading out. COP hadn’t been able to keep any food or fluids down since about lunchtime on Sat, so he was running on an empty tank. Being the trooper he is, he shouldered his 60 pound pack and shuffled up the trail. I hung back with him, while the others headed on to the cars.

Beau went ahead to drop his pack and come back to get COP’s. COP trudged on through the misery, enjoying as fine a winter day on the mountain as we could ever have wished for – biting cold, blowing spindrift, sunshine. He would go 40 yards and stop for a break. I even pulled his pack like a sled for a while, until we hit the rocky sections again. We made all the way down to where the trail splits to go two ways to the parking lot before we encountered Beau on the way back up. Apparently, sending the new guy out on the trails, when they’re all covered with snow, causes him to try all of the wrong turns before he figures out where he should go. The snow was blowing around so much that COP and I couldn’t see the others’ tracks, even though they were less than an hour ahead of us. Poor Beau didn’t have the option of just following his tracks back up to us. Fortunately we met up and didn’t pass by each other accidentally.

We finally got everyone and all of gear back to the parking lot. We stopped in Sparta for lunch on the way back and eventually got everyone back home safely. Just another adventure on the mountain. 🙂

Don’s pix

Michele’s pix

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Backpacking at Mt. Rogers

December 2008 saw us make another pilgrimage to the Mt. Rogers area to enjoy some winter backpacking. It was 18 degrees F, snowing lightly, and blowing stongly when we arrived at about 8:30. COP, Flex, Keyhole and Infoman waited in the truck until Safety Director and Shark Lady arrived at about 9:15 pm (arriving from Chicago). We got loaded up and hiked up to the fence stile and then on to our new secret campsite in the Lewis Fork Wilderness. It’ so secret that some of us who have been there numerous times can’t remember where it is! Old age sux, huh?!

It was about 12:15 am when I could no longer find anyone who wanted to stay up and chat, so I plugged in the iPod and drifted off myself. It was a chilly night, made worse by my being out of shape, dehydrated, and having to learn a hard lesson. Did you know that a 2.5 inch thick air mattress is very comfortable when sleeping on the ground, but if the air is cold, it sucks the heat right out of you. I ended up putting my ridgerest pad on top of the air mattress, and that worked fine. Glad I had both with me!

We had a Jimmy Dean sausage skillet dish for breakfast and when we finally decided it was time to get off our bums and go for a hike, it was almost noon. There was brief consideration of hiking to the top of Rogers and VA by some who hadn’t been there, but gravity got the best of them and most of us hiked downhill into the Wilson Creek valley to search for a geocache – Falling For You.  It required a little adventure to find it, but that’s what we like! The hike back up hill to camp was not as fun, but ended up leaving us ready for the diner adventure.

While we hiking, COP met Doc at the stile and then they held down the fort until we returned. Supposedly this is when Doc’s Svea stove worked wonderfully, unlike the rest of the weekend when it didn’t seem to want to cooperate.

Dinner was a chili cook-off. We had three types – vegetarian, beef, and venison. Those of us who ate were the winners! We also came up with new meanings for CPR and AED. Poor Doc thought they were medical terms, based on his previous training. We made them chili-related!

On Sunday morning we were treated to pancakes and bacon for breakfast, followed by a hike out and more geocaching. We picked up four more caches along the road out of the park – Massie Gap, Sugarland, Grayson Highlands, and Crooked Road. Not as adventurous to find as Falling For You, but still fun. I think we may see more geocaching added to our future trips.

SD’s pix

Infoman’s pix

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