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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CO 14’ers

Just a little mountain sticking up, right? Sure. This is the view from CO 150 (on the flat plain at 8000′) looking at the Blanca group of peaks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Range in Colorado. This group contains three peaks that rise over 14,000′. They’re almost as high above this road as NC’s Mt. Mitchell is above Shackleford Banks! We parked at the bottom and climbed to the tops!

Don and Brian on top of Little Bear Peak - 14,037'

Executive Summary:

Day 1 – Friday, July 25th, 2008; Drove 45 minutes to eastern Johnston County to pick up Lauren from Girl Scout camp. Returned home. Drove 3 hours to Boone, NC to meet my cousin Brian. Loaded our gear in his Subaru Impreza. Brian and I left Boone at 9pm and started driving. Drove through Tennessee.

Day 2 – Drove through Illinois. In St. Louis, Missouri, we saw the Arch through the morning fog. Drove through Missouri. Drove through Kansas. Continued driving through Kansas. It’s quite flat, treeless, and monotonous in western Kansas. Drove through a paint-stripper thunderstorm near a huge windmill farm. Drove into Colorado. Eastern Colorado is flatter than western Kansas. Drove through Pueblo, Colorado about sundown. Found a trailhead for the Lewis Trail in the San Isabel National Forest, between Pueblo and Westcliffe, and pitched our tents in the parking lot. Crashed about 11 pm, after 28 hours of driving.

Day 3 – Got up at 6 am and drove into Westcliffe, bought a few more groceries. Most of the town was still asleep at 6:15 am on Sunday morning. Drove to the trailhead for South Colony Lakes. Drove the AWD “Soob” up the 4WD road for several miles. Parked, packed, and then hiked the remaining 4+ miles up to the lakes. None of the high-clearance vehicles passing us offered us a ride. At the lakes, we pitched our tents, then climbed Humboldt Peak to summit our first fourteener of the trip! Who needs to acclimatize? Climb high, sleep low, breathe deep, rest-step a lot. Returned to camp and enjoyed finally being in the CO mountains. Met Matthew, a Lutheran pastor from Denver. He had dropped his kids off at a camp near Westcliffe and was spending a few days hanging out in the mountains. He pitched his tarp beside our tents and cooked dinner with us.

Day 4 – Got a late start – 8:30 am, climbed up and over Broken Hand Pass and along the traverse to Crestone Needle. Went up to the base of the gullies, where the Class 3 climbing starts, but decided against climbing because the clouds were obscuring the top of the mtn. Returned to camp with plans for an alpine start the next day. Watched the clouds thicken. Retreated to the tents when the rain began. Felt the temp’s drop into the 30’s. Watched the rain turn into rain/hail/snow. Napped through the two hour storm. Had dinner. Off to bed early.

Day 5 – Got an alpine start – up at 5:30 and hiking by 6:15 am. Climbed up and over Broken Hand Pass again, climbed the gullies and summited Crestone Needle, our second fourteener! Returned to camp, packed up, realized our packs were way too heavy, hiked back to the car. The road had been stretched since we hiked in – it felt much longer going down. Washed up in a stream (ice-cold) behind the parking area we used. Drove into Westcliffe and had dinner with Matthew at Poag Mahone’s Bar and Grill. Left an Adventure Family sticker in bar. Drove south from Westcliffe, found a local character and a dirt road and got stuck behind a cattle drive. Drove to the Lake Como trailhead, arriving just after sunset. Pitched tents in the parking lot on a very flat desert plain and crashed.

Day 6 – Got up, repacked to get lighter packs. Drove the “Soob” another quarter mile up the access road/trail. Starting hiking at 9 am. Five miles, 3600′ of elevation, and five hours later, we arrived at Lake Como. Pitched tents. Rinsed and dried some of our clothes. Probably not worth the effort – they were less salty and dirty, but just as stinky. Retreated to tents at 7:30 pm when the sun disappeared behind the trees and the mosquitoes took over.

Day 7 – Alpine start at 5 am, hiking by 5:21 am. Climbed up Blanca Peak to summit our third fourteener! Traversed/climbed down, over and up to Ellingwood Point to summit our fourth fourteener! Returned to camp at 2:30pm. Ate oatmeal and napped. Retreated to tents at 7:30 pm when the sun disappeared behind the trees and the mosquitoes took over.

Don on Little Bear with Ellingwood Point and Blanca Peak in the background.

Day 8 – Alpine start at 5 am, hiking by 5:21 am. Climbed up a stepp gully full of loose dirt and rocks to reach the crest of the West Ridge. Traversed along the ridge to the base of the “Hourglass”, a steeper, water polished gully that led to the upper summit ridge of Little Bear. Dodged falling rocks in the gully, climbed even steeper rock on the sides to avoid the fall zone. Finally made it to the top of Little Bear Peak, summiting our fifth fourteener! Returned to camp a little after noon. Packed up while cooking and eating a quick bag of pasta. An hour after returning we began hiking down. Met a club from Texas coming up the “trail/road” in heavily modified Jeeps. Three hours later, we arrived at the “Soob”. Changed into less dirty clothes. Drove to Wendy’s in Alamosa for Frosties. At 5:15 pm, we started driving out of Colorado. Drove through New Mexico. Drove to Amarillo, Texas and discovered there may be “fast food” restaurants open at 12:40 am, but they are not “fast”. Drove through Texas.

Day 9 – Drove through Oklahoma and Arkansas. Drove into Tennessee and in Memphis we took a right turn and went 5 miles to cross the Mississippi state line. Turned around once Brian acknowledged his visit to his 49th state (he only has Alaska to go). Drove through Tennessee. Arrived in Boone at 10:45 pm after 27.5 hours of driving. Ate. Showered. Crashed.

Day 10 – Reviewed pictures on Brian’s laptop. Got back in my truck. Drove 2 hours to Burlington and had lunch with my folks and sister. Drove 1 hour home. Grossed out all three of my girls with 10 days of scraggly beard. Moved furniture. Unpacked bags. Ate. Crashed.

Googlemaps of the drives:

Drive out Drive back

Googlemaps of our trail routes in the two areas:

South Colony Lakes trailhead and the Crestones

Lake Como trailhead and the Blanca Group

Pictures are posted here!


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Report from Rogers

Report from COP:

Hi family! !

Hope all are doing well and enjoying the winter!

Wayne Riley and I made a mad dash to Mt. Rogers this Friday for a weekend in Rogers weather. COLD, SNOW and more COLD.

When we arrived Friday night NOT a bit of wind all the way to the pine trees. With snow from the past week of about 10 inches. A nice warm 20 degrees as we set up the tent. Great view of the sky and ski slops and no wind!

Over night fresh 2 inches of snow, nice 17 when we got up for a warm breakfast of srimp and grits – – – in the tent. We did a few hikes all over the place. Yes Infoman I did find the new camp site! Lunch back at the tent and of course a nap for 1 to 2 to recover from walking in snow drifts two feet +.

That afternoon Wayne went on another hike I stayed in the warm tent and read a book. After a great dinner Wayne brought he went to sleep at 7:30 me I was reading some more but after the third time the book fell out of my hands I also said good night. THEN THE MT. ROGERS WINDS COME! ! Strong winds from hell all night. Going out to take care of the needs was no fun!This morning 18 degrees, still strong winds with the whole Mt. covered in rim ice. What a winter wonder land it was.

We hiked down and went to highway 16 and 58 and had a breakfast with a scout troop that was around the bend from us. They all talked about how cold they where. One asked how two old people could stay warm. WE JUST SMILED!



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Dec on Mt. Rogers

We’ve decided that we should make our services available to all the municipalities who are suffering from “exceptional drought” conditions this year. All we have to do is go on a trip and the rains will be there!


Six of us headed up to Mt. Rogers for a semi-traditional December backpacking trip. Four of the group were present on the October monsoon paddle trip. Hmm, maybe one of us is jinxed?

We arrived late Friday after dark and in a drizzling off and on rain. The first two guys up the mtn had fun with navigation and were not able to locate the side trail off to the new favorite camping spot. Muffin Man is safe from accusation, because he hadn’t been there before. COP on the other hand… Hey, that reminds me, we need to work the story about not being able to find his backpack into this report somehow. Apparently RV’ing has a way of degrading your memory chips.

Infoman and Flex arrived later, after a tour of east Greensboro and dinner at Cracker Barrel. Seems navigation challenges were abundant Friday night. We hiked up and found COP and Muffin Man at the fence, in a tent, waiting for us to show up and show them the way to the new campsite.

It was windy, but warm, about 40 degrees. I’ve hiked up that hill on Friday nights when it was about 4 degrees. It’s much more fun when it’s 40! There were a few remnants of Wednesday’s snow left in the usual snow drift spots as we hiked up. I made sure to step in them, but forgot to snap a picture for proof.

As we waited for them to take down the tent, we spotted Noodle Man and Cookie Man’s headlamps coming up the trail. I showed COP the way to the campsite. He was close, but passed right by the sign at the intersection. I told him it didn’t matter if the sign didn’t say anything about the camp – it just had a horseback rider symbol on it. I told it was a “sign” and that was all he needed. 🙂

We all got to the campsite about 11pm and pitched our tents. It didn’t take long to decide that we’d had enough of a day already and a little sleeping bag time was in order. It rained a lot during the night and the wind howled. I worried at one point if the tent was going to pop a pole, since the wall was leaning in and pressing wetly against my face.

Saturday morning arrived rainy and damp. Visibility was about 50 yards. Wayne pulled out his tyvek tarp and we strung it up over a semi-wind-sheltered spot in the trees so we could cook breakfast. We ended up spending a lot of the day there under the tarp.


The rain keep coming and going, so we never did. We headed to the tents around lunchtime to have a long midday nap while the rain pitter-pattered on the tents.


Then we hunkered under the tarp until dinnertime. Wait, I think Wayne and I actually hiked up the hill behind the tarp about 100 yards in one of the breaks from the rain, just in time to see a dark cloud where the sunset should have been. We debated about packing up and heading out, but decided to stick it out. COP promised sunshine on Sunday. We were done with dinner and ready for more naps by 8pm.

Sunday did dawn with a few breaks in the clouds, and we could see a spot of blue sky, and that thing known as the sun – briefly. At least the rain was gone, so we had breakfast and broke camp without getting wetter. My pack thermometer read 50 degrees. It was a short hike back down the hill to the cars.


It was 69 degrees when I got home to Cary. So much for winter backpacking. We all apparently stink at doing the snow dance.

Pix from Michele

Pix from Don

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Please scroll down for updates.

Aloha!! Here’s a seldom-seen twist on an Adventure Family Adventure – all the participants are actually related, at least by marriage. Four adventurers are headed to Maui to spend a week enjoying an island adventure of the less wildernessy type. Among the activities planned are:

Sea kayaking and snorkeling on the south Maui coast.

Catching a theatre show called ‘Ulalena (envision a Cirque Du Soleil show about Hawaiian mythology).

Mountain biking down a volcano, in a tropical rainforest, at the beach – all in one trip!.

Enjoying the Old Lahaina Luau.

A visit to ONO Farm, a certified organic tropical fruit farm.

A helicopter tour of Maui.


Here are some info links of interest.

A page of Maui webcams

Kahului, Maui weather It seems Tropical Depression Cosme might circle the islands this week. Wahooo!!!!

May the Adventure continue !!!!!

July 23, 2007

After getting up at 3:15am, flying from RDU to Charlotte to Phoenix to Kahului, we finally made it to Maui. About 17 hours of sitting and waiting. We crammed us and our stuff in the convertible and found our condo. The view from the lanai was awful, see below:


After grabbing a bite to eat and hitting a few stores for some basic supplies, we finally decided to get some sleep (not sitting up). It had only been 25 hours since we got up in Raleigh.

July 24, 2007

5:00am – Ok, my internal clock is on vacation time (and EST) so it’s time to get up and see Maui! I can sleep at home. This morning’s plan is to go on a kayak/snorkel trip. Later this evening we plan to drive over to Lahaina and catch the ‘Ulalena show.

Aloha from Maui!

Don and Sandy on the lanai

Brian and Donna on the lanai

3:30 pm – Great morning kayaking and snorkeling. Having now done the headboats and a more individualized snorkeling excursion, I definitely prefer the smaller groups. Deja was great guide – full of local info and naturalist knowledge, and she was a nice person to hang out with. Deja works for Makena Kayaks.
Don and Sandy on the water

Brian and Donna on the water

Our gang with Deja, our kayak guide/naturalist

After returning from the kayak/snorkel trip, we had a snack lunch at the condo, enjoyed the daytime view from the lanai …

daytime view from our lanai

and then headed to the pool to baste for a couple of hours before we cleaned up and headed out for an evening in Lahaina.

view from the pool

Our evening plans were centered around seeing ‘Ulalena, a theatrical/dance/acrobatic production that told the story of the Maui mythology. The show ran about 1.5 hours and was very impressive. We all enjoyed it and left a little more culturized. 🙂

July 25, 2007

9:49pm – Today’s adventure was driving the road to Hana. For those that don’t know, the Hana Highway is a narrow two-lane road that snakes 37 miles along the north shore of Maui to the small town of Hana. Lots of curves, one-lane bridges, cliffs, and traffic along the way. Here are some pictures:

– Pulled over at an overlook

our rental car

– View of the road winding along a sea cliff

view of curves along a cliff

– group self-portrait

group self-portrait

coastline at Keanea Peninsula

– Don and Sandy at a waterfall and pool

Don and Sandy by a waterfall

– Donna and Brian on the black sand beach at Hana Bay

Donna and Brian on the black sand beach at Hana Bay

This continues in Maui – Part 2

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The Iceman Cometh

January 21, 2007 – Badin Lake; NC

This trip started out with lots of emails. No-Show Greer (COP) bailed at the last minute Friday afternoon, but at least he sent the food with Muffin Man. The rest of us eventually gathered at the green arrow by 8:30 PM or so on Friday night. We camped between a gravel road and the lake in a well used pull-off car-camping site.

On Saturday, Muffin M. fixed a breakfast of srimp and grits with cheese. Then part of the group hiked to a lakeside campsite while Infom. and Muffin M. paddled around the lake to the same spot. Eventually the hikers made it to the site and some of them went for a short packless hike to check out other possible campsites and some boulders. The rest took a nap.

Later in the afternoon, we all gathered for dinner. Mr. Dork and PP fixed a nice dinner of rigatoni with a sausage and cream sauce with bread. We spent the evening watching the beautful starry sky and roaring campfire.

On Sunday, after a breakfast of lentils and kielbasa with jelly biscuits, the hikers hiked out and the paddlers paddled. The cold rain started while we broke camp and was coming down pretty good while the hikers rolled in to the parking spot.

Despite the MLK trip’s history of being a winter trip, the only ice was found in Golf Boy’s sleeping bag. Not to say that he’s a cold bedfellow – I wouldn’t know. On the contrary, Blister Sister was warmed up quite well by the ice she found in his sleeping bag. Once she wrapped a little foil around the band, it fit her ring finger just fine. =:) During the morning left-hand wahoo ceremony, BS kept putting her hand on top of the pile, but none of us were observant enough to notice the rock, so she had to point it out to us. Sorry you missed that, No-Show!

Congrats Iceman and BS!!!

Another great adventure with great friends!

Don’s pix:

Flex’s pix:
Pix from Flex

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