Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Mar 11 2005 - Cross Country Skiing/Snowshoeing Wknd (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Jesse Allen
Participants:Jesse Allen, Jeff Schneider, Laura Paszkiewicz, Shelley Sanner, Sean Riggs, David Hurwitz, Cheyenne Richmond, Holly DeHart, colleen wade, Christine Larsen

Write Up:
After a few last minute cancellations and a number of people coming to the ski weekend directly from elsewhere, we had a very small gathering at the car pool location. Cheyenne, myself (Jesse), Chris, and Colleen split into two cars and headed out to West Virginia after quick introductions. The drive was uneventful up well into the state, though we did notice only a little snow on the ground even as close as Petersburg and wondered how well our weekend was going to go with so little snow. Sharp eyed Cheyenne kept spotting wildlife in the woods well off the road, an eagle eye that would come up many times during the weekend.

The light snow cover changed rapidly with falling snow and a heavy cover on the road as we got close to Harman, and in particular the snow cover on the road became quite heavy as we came across Alleghany Mountain where a little skidding excitement on my part led to putting the truck into 4 wheel drive the rest of the way. Fortunately I was alone in having a slide up the hill and everyone else made it without incident. We arrived around 11 PM to find almost everyone else was already in, and some of the more exhausted had already turned in for the night.

Our lodging was quite nice. Mountain Retreat Lodge is a former medical clinic transformed into the lodge and an apartment. The place came with five different bedrooms with twin and bunk beds (and a crib!) as well as a large loft space with yet more beds, ping pong table, and lots and lots of lady bugs. And perhaps a beknighted ghost based on experiences we were to have, not the least of which was a great deal of gurgling water in the heating registers.

After bringing our food in from the truck, a little chatter, and a swig of an interesting Maryland chardonnay that Chris shared with us, we called it a night and turned in to the joyful noise of gurgling water pipes and turning off the lights to let the lady bugs go to sleep.

In the middle of the night, the sink ran on its own and the lights in one bedroom spotaneously turned on. Was it the lady bug monster?

We woke in the morning to a beautiful scene of deep fresh snow everywhere and icicles hanging from the eaves. The kitchen included a wonderful large electric skillet perfect for making pancakes for all of us, so we got in a good stuffing our faces before making sandwiches for lunch and packing up into our collective 4 wheel drive vehicles and heading up into Canaan Valley, visiting our good friends at Highland Scene Tours to get skis and snowshoes for the weekend, then heading up towards Crying Rock in the Dolly Sods Wilderness Area. But first I demonstrated that four wheel drive does not mean you can drive through EVERYTHING. A bit of pushing and shoving from the group got the truck unstuck though...

The forest access road up to South Prong Trail is not ploughed at all in winter, so this is where our four wheel drive caravan came into play. We made it well up the hill before pulling off to the side of the access road and parking, donning skis or snowshoes, and climbing up the rest of the way up the hill to the start of the South Prong trail. With the very heavy snow cover (There was at least six to eight inches of light snow over a hard base.), climbing the mile or two up the road was harder going than I had planned for, so we were all quite ready to be done when we got to the top to start the trail into the woods.

South Prong Trail has a series of bog bridges over wet patches, but we found a number of places where another bridge or two might have been nice as despite our best efforts, skis would get wet and then snow would clump up on the skis, often quite badly. The temperature was quite pleasantly warm, w



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