Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Mar 5 2004 - Canaan Valley Ski/Snowshoe Weekend III (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Jesse Allen, Gina Vachino, Shelley Sanner, Colin Babb, Laura Paszkiewicz, Ronit Fix, chanath ather, Lisa Soule, Bernadette Wassmann, Roger van Boeyen, KC Yi, Erik Venteris, Christine Di Lapi, Julia Begley

Write Up:
After a week of warm weather prior to our event, the snow was well and truly gone from even the peaks in the Canaan Valley area. Our original plan of snowshoeing and skiing was scotched before we even began! It was also an unpromising start to the weekend to be driving up in cold rain Friday night. Those of us meeting at the carpool (Erik, Jesse, KC, and Colin) did at least have the treat of stopping at Uncle Tucker's brick wood fired oven pizza basement for dinner in Cumberland. We were joined by Gina, who first went off on a mountain road and eliminated some frogs on the road from the gene pool. We had a wonderful dinner complete with the local brew of root beer and orange cream soda before returning to our cars and continuing to the Land of Canaan. It was quite late when we got there and found several people apparently missing at the cabin who, fortunately, had turned out instead to have opted to retreat to the bedrooms and sleep rather than staying up 'til past midnight for the last arrivals.

Jesse got up early Saturday morning and took off to Harman to recover the water bottle left behind at the cabin there on the previous weekend's ski trip. Confident in the knowledge that almost no one would be up when he got back after leaving at 6:30 AM, he found almost half the group already gone for an early morning run. Those of us still at the cabin got up and had a breakfast of french toast and good coffee, even fresh stovetop espresso for those who wanted a truly serious caffeine attack. The runners began to stream back in as breakfast progressed, with Gina and Shelley coming in last and looking like they had run a Marine Corps obstacle course rather than a mere trail run. It turned out they had temporarily misplaced the trail in the midst of the woods and had taken in some bush whacking in places, even encountering what might have been a bear den while dashing around through the bramble and fording streams. While they were showering and thawing from their run, the rest of us packed up bag lunches, donned our hiking gear, and set off. We planned for a 12-mile hike out and back to Blackwater Falls State Park, taking a route along the Plantation Trail rather than the fire access road to reach the Davis Trail, then down to the park, which the snowshoers had gone down the previous weekend without trouble. We thought the Plantation Trail would be more interesting than the fire access road. We were right!

Unbeknownst to us all, the Plantation Trail is not well maintained in places, as we later learned from our cabin hosts (too late to do us any good!). More troubling, the past week of warmer weather had let to substantial snowmelt, exacerbated by substantial rain overnight. And the most popular way down into the Blackwater Falls canyon for the water was along or across the Plantation Trail. At our first stream fording adventure, it was funny and entertaining and a pleasant little obstacle to cross. Two miles later, after having done this several times and got near freezing water flowing over (and in) hiking boots, it became much less pleasant. The on-and-off-again rain and wet branches on trees also testing everyone's wet weather gear. Finally, not far from reaching the shelter at the junction of the Plantation and Davis Trails, we came to a section where the water was running swiftly and deeply over the trailbed for as far as we could see.

Erik led us on a bush-bashing expedition along the side of the trail that kept us out of the flowing water, but even several hundred feet in hacking our way through the bramble of mountain laurel and rhododendron bushes, there was no sign of the trail reappearing out of the water. Quickly getting exhausted from the hard work of trying to force our way through, and with no certain knowledge of just how far we had to go to reach the shelter

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