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Monongahela NF TR
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“My first problem was trying to figure out the best way to get Dani into the backcountry. She loves the outdoors and spent a few years in the Dominican Republic with the Peace Corps so I felt only a small incentive was needed. But what? Then it hit me Like a Y2 verbal Jab!
I grabbed her ass, threw her into the car, and sped off to REI!
I dragged her through, layering her with clothing as she freaked over prices and made little jabs regarding the Giant YOGA clothing section. What was I to do? It's the best place to go when you need your stuff NOW!
I decided on MNF because I had never been there. Over to the Topo section of REI so I could be reminded that REI doesn't carry #&%!$ for local hiking but, once again, I was comforted by the fact that If I wanted to do Everest on a whim, REI had the maps I needed.
I grabbed the Falcon book on WV trails and looked up MNF. The book highly recomended gaiters due to attacking stinging nettles. Crap! Never wanted to buy gaiters but I thought it might be best. Didn't want to kill Dani on her first trip with me.
I paid for all our crap, left the store, and took a beautiful picture of the Full Sized HUMMER parked in an REI employee spot. The roads in N. Virginia can be mighty treacherous.
We packed our bags. I gave Dani my "day pack" for this trip. Her pack weighed in at 18lbs with water. Mine came in at @42lbs with water. But I have trekking poles so I win, yes?
Off to the Mylius (sp?) TH! Through no fault of mine (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!) there was no way in Hell we were gonna make the trail Head before nightfall. It was questionable whether or not we could find a campsite near the TH so I decided it was best not to push it, maybe on Danis second trip I can be more reckless.......? I pulled in to Seneca Rocks and we paid for a campsite. It was a beautiful campground. We had Seneca Rocks to one side and Rt33 on the other. Soon we had the sound of a roaring fire to go along with the sounds of cars and logging trucks. A six pack of beer or so later and we hit the sack.
Up Early and over to the climbing store to see if they had MNF topos. No such luck. Oh well. I thought maybe we could find one in Alpena (last town before the TH) or maybe the TH will have primitive maps?
We get to the TH and discoverd a total lack of Maps. I've driven 250miles and we are a day behind. I will not be STOPPED by the lack of one of the most important pieces of equipment we need! An item I have never been without but dammit I was too close to stop! Besides, My MacGyver instincts took over. I had a compass and the Falcon WV Traill Book. We ripped out the relevent section, with its primitive map, clipped a paper clip to it, and we were good to go!
Might I add that I have never backpacked in an NF? An NF that pretty much lacked any trail markings? That my compass "skills" are amaturistic at best? Might I reiterate that this was Dani's first backpacking trip with me? Her first trip since her days in the Dominican Republic? The sight of my head being chopped off because we got lost played over and over in my mind.
BTW - the weather was PERFECT!
Up the Myelius Trail and into Otter Creek was our Goal! We followed the Fire Road into an open Meadow as "predicted" by our trailguide. I had Dani read me the trail description a dozen times. My eyes constantly scanning for potential changes/junctions in the trail not described in the book.
An occasional cairn gave me some comfort.
Stinging nettle are either out of season or that book doesn't know crap about the flora!
The trail started to follow a contour around Shaver Mountain. Luckily it was dry or methinks Dani would have been in trouble without poles. I, on the other hand, was struggling with my pack weight and very happy to have poles. We came to a Saddle and juncture with the Shaver Mountain Trail. It was a "Designated campsight" with a fire ring. I thought only the desperate or insane would stay here. The wind was whipping around so bad I thought live trees were gonna come crashing down. We took a break there, marveling at the widowmakers looking for us. Our handy-dandy trail despcription/map told us the way to Otter Creek from there and we were gone.
The descent from the saddle was much easier than the ascent and we were headed into thick-as-hell rhododendron turf. Never seen so much of the crap! Bet this area is beautiful when it's blooming. We make it down to Otter Creek and unload our crap at the designated campsite just across the river. The creek was low, so no fording required (small victories were making me happy :) ). We were'nt that far in, but once again, I just wanted a nice, easy, last trip of the season, with my head still attached to my body. :)
We set up camp, Dani getting right to work along side me like she's done this stuff for years. We went for a nice, relaxing hike along Otter Creek and collected a #&%!$load of wood for the fire. Actually, Dani collected a #&%!$load. My load was far inferior.
Hanging out at our campsite was pure pleasure. Finding a Latrine was not! We were surrounded by Otter Creek, another trail juncture, and Rhododendron up the ying-yang! BP Gods forgive me but methinks y'all should filter the water out of Otter Creek. ;)
As dusk started to fall, we started our attempt at a fire. Neither of us had built a fire without the luxuries of paper or fuel before. After a few attempts, and a dozen REI Stormproof matches, we had a veritable bonfire going! Dani was pleasently surprised with the quality of her dehydrated vegan meal. And we were both very excited to crack open our flasks full of Makers Mark. Thank God we brought two!
We went to bed at some point...............
We wake around 830. it's cold and cloudy. I'm thinking if it rains then we are going to die trying to get back along that ridge. We pack up and eat a cold breakfast of energy bars and trail mix........and hot coffee. I need my coffee, dammit! Back up to the saddle we encounter to guys with a Giant party tent, a two burner coleman stove, and a blazing fire.
And I beeotch about 42lbs on my back!?
Back down the way we came. The rain never came and we were out in no time! Methinks I will be getting topos of the area and heading back in for longer trips.
Back home in DC. We crash around 11. Dani wakes up to a loud noise and a car alarm. I wake up to a car horn. Looking out our bedroom window I see a couple in the Alley staring at something. They come up the stairway to our backyard, still staring off into the distance. I turn on the backporch light and head out. Across the empty lot next to our building, is another alley, perpendicular to our back alley. The alley borders an auto store/shop.
Tonight, in this alley, is a burning vehicle. A blazing New Ford Explorer. Someone ditched and torched it. We watch the fun until the fumes almost knock us out. The next day we go and take a closer look. The fire department and the truck never had a chance.
Dani asks me: "how soon can we get back to the woods?"
last edited: 10/19/05 12:52:25 PM”
“Speak of the devil and their he is! ;-)
How ya doing these days, Bearmagnet?”
“Good to hear from you! :)
Sounds like a good trip and congrats to Dani on her first trip :)”
“Topo maps were available at the visitor center at Seneca Rocks, although they might not have had the particular quad you needed.”
Congrats on a good trip.”
“Where the hell you been?
Sounds like a great trip.”
“I've been alright, SS. I needed some time off.
Thanx, Katie! I'm at Dani's desk now (don't tell her boss!)
Ghoul is right, there were topo's but none for us.
Bit - thanx & I'm new to the digital World. I have a pic of the HUMMER, Dani at the TH, Dani collecting wood, then a dead battery. Man, those die quick!
WayTooScary- been busy and been healing. Who are you, btw? The halloween name is throwing me off.”
“way cool! who knew a blow-up doll could carry 18 lbs.
healing from what?”
“Who the hell is Dani??? WHat happened to all those co-eds?
“My Banff F*up really took a toll on me, Lyra. It was more than just a trip for me.
I'm co-ed free now, embear.”
“Who cares about a trip report. I just love saying "Monongahela."
“Who is WayTooScary? It's Y2! Duh! ; )
Sounds like someone is whipped btw. he he he. "Where have you been Bear?" ha! Our little dirty Bearmagnet is a one woman guy now. ; )”
“I think Dani should be posting an alternative trip report.”
“HA! good idea, y2.
i can't imagine what you must be like when you're drunk, Bowlder, if this is you "normal"...LOL!!
“when you leaving us lyra?”
“let's remember that he said he was at her desk right now.
once he gets back to his own i'm sure we'll hear the truth...”
“How do you know I'm not right now, lyra?”
“well that's a good point, Bowlder!
Monday, y2! eeeek.”
“There are no bad trails in the Mon. Next time head for the Dolly Sods or Roaring Plains for an uplifting experience.”
“cheers for monongahela... and your trip too.
as kids we used to chant it
mo non ga HE LA”
“BTW Bearmagnet, if you're going to hike the Mon it might be worth your while to invest in the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy's Hiking Guide CD, which has color maps that can be printed at any scale you want. The CD is the only source with scaleable maps that have up to date trail info.
Here's the URL for the site with ordering info: http://www.wvhighlands.org/ElectronicHikingGuideAd.htm[url]
last edited: 10/20/05 8:08:20 AM”
“Rohrbaugh Plains is not the "Sods" as such, but it is geologically and extension of the Sods.
Nancy Meyer and her four friends were just looking for a couple of hours in the woods, Tuesday, when they set off for a day hike in the Dolly Sods Wilderness.
What they got was something entirely different:
Lost - but with a happy ending.
All experienced hikers from the Woodstock, Va., area, the women took a wrong turn along the Rohrbaugh Plains Trail. Battling rhododendron thickets, muddy conditions and falling darkness, they eventually hunkered down for the night around a campfire.
Feeding the fire were pieces of their discredited map, dry meadow grass and twigs. Eventually, they were able to drag in enough logs to keep the blaze going all night.
All they had to eat were a couple of granola bars. Fortunately, one hiker inexplicably brought along a flashlight. Another had a lighter. They all hand canteens, but with dwindling water supplies as the night wore on toward morning.
The fire was built against a large rock, thus providing an efficient heat radiator.
Two hiked out Wednesday morning to Forest Road 19, summoning assistance for retrieving their companions. Imitating fairy tale characters Hanzel and Gretel, the pair marked their return trail with strips torn from a poncho.
"I think we didn't do too badly," joked Meyer. "We lived to tell the tale."
Aged between 49 and 72, the hikers spent the weekend at Timberline. All are regular trekkers in the George Washington National Forest and Shenandoah National Park.
It was their first hike at Dolly Sods.
Meyer chalked up the group's problems to a variety of factors, with their map probably being the main culprit. After enjoying lunch at a rocky overlook, the hikers somehow found themselves on the wrong path, probably an abandoned logging railroad grade.
"We thought it was taking a while and suspected we made a mistake, made the wrong turn," said hiker Mary Lou Etgen.
Accustomed to the kind of detailed and regularly updated trail guides covering their regular haunts, the hikers found their own map almost totally devoid of landmarks to assist them in escaping their fate.
They couldn't even call out on their cell phones.
From there, things just went downhill in a hurry. One hiker briefly lost her shoes along a muddy stretch. Another found her bare legs assaulted by rhododendron branches.
Compounding their problems was limited visibility due to misty conditions.
"Finally, we agreed to stop ... spend the night," said Etgen.
None on the party was able to sleep, although they were able to use their ponchos as ground sheets. They kept up their morale by trying to guess what their husbands were doing in their absence.
The party had been due home that evening. One hiker, Abbe Kennedy, missed her daughter's ball game.
Twice they heard the sound of hunting dogs in the night. Sometime during the darkness a large tree fell.
"We laughed all night, said Etgen.
"And giggled," added Meyer.
It was Meyer and Mary Lee Parsons who hiked out the following morning, using a compass to determine their way to the road.
Once to the road, the pair quickly encountered a professional photographer, who helped them summon help. While Meyer, the group's driver, caught some shut-eye in the car, Parsons led a rescue party to the camp.
"I heard a man's voice and I said 'hallelujah,'" said Etgen.
The experience was a bit of an embarrassment for the veteran hikers. That's especially true for Meyer, who contributes regular hiking-related articles to her community newspaper.
The hiking group heads into the woods on an average of twice a month. Their numbers range from 3-22.
Despite her red face, Meyer plans to write about the experience as an educational lesson about planning for and handling emergency situations.
"I will write about it. I'll dwell upon the map issue and what to carry in your backpack," explained Meyers, who has weeded out some of her former emergency supplies over the years as a weight-saver. "You must take everything with you. You never know."
Among those who assisted with the rescue was Brian Nuzum, a West Virginia Division of Natural Resources conservation officer. He said the hikers handled the situation properly.
The women offered thanks to Nuzum, Ed Lang, Dave Frazier, James Markley and Charles McDaniel for their part in the rescue.”
“Hey B*tch! We've missed you, you know. :)
Glad to hear that Dani's first BP trip was more successful than your first trip!!!
Nice report ~ how have you been???”
“Bear, nice to see you back. Good TR but you know you have to have pics. Is Dani a male or female? Just curious because of where you worked for a while ;)”
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