Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Sep 23 2005 - Camping/Hiking/Caving in WV (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Laura Paszkiewicz, Sarah Davis
Participants:Ronit Fix, Majeed Khan, Sarah Davis, Laura Paszkiewicz, Shelley Sanner, Colin Babb, Aimee Morris, Kevin McCarthy, KC Yi, Jesus Villeda

Write Up:
After a long, dark, windy, hilly, bumpy drive to the Mountain Instute Spruce Knob Mountain Center, the carpool finally met up with the rest of the group already at camp. We were directed to where we'd be camping and were instructed to find ourselves a cozy "pod" to put up our tent (little spots where the tall grass had been cut out). After getting all our tents set up and our gear away, we all went straight to bed so we could get rest before the many activities planned for the morning.

The morning started off with an attempt at a warm breakfast over a fire. Unfortunately, the plan didn't work to well because of a metal fire ring that stood about 1.5 feet above the fire (there was a miscommunication about which fire ring to use- next time, we'll be more prepared!). So, we decided to head to the main yurt where there was a kitchen to cook our breakfast. After a leisurely breakfast of eggs, sausage, and "campfire mountain bread" (a tasty experiment of Sarah's), we grouped together to make a plan for the day. Our guide, Kim, wanted to guage our level and willingness for adventure before picking a cave for us. We decided one of the less travelled caves with some crawling and big open caverns. After a cozy 15 minute drvie, we were all geared up and ready to go spelunking. The adventures inside the cave were exciting...including crawling through cold, wet mud, avoiding sleeping bats, and exploring the cave for the way we were supposed to go. Unfortunately, Kim hadn't been in the cave in several months and didn't really remember the way to the other after some exploration, we decided to go out the way we came in. After we got back to camp, we had a relaxing lunch and tried to decide what to tackle next....hike spruce knob, or explore an alternate cave. We (finally) decided a group of us that hadn't gotten our fill of caving would head for a quick tour of the other cave and then come back for the hike afterwards.

The other cave proved to be a lot more was much drier, but the passageways were a lot smaller and *covered* with spiders....Once we got past the challenges, the rooms opened up with really interesting formations.

We finally returned from the second cave and gathered those that still had energy for the hike up to Spruce Knob, the highest peak in WV. We got there just as the sun was setting, but couldn't really see much because of the thick fog surrounding the peak. It was still really cool at the top and we even got some information from Kim on useful remedies from the local wildflowers. The shuttle back down the mountain to camp proved to be the most adventurous part of the trip! The fog was so thick and the road so curvy, I for one was thankful that Colin got to be shotgun and not me!

Once back at camp, exhausted and dirty, the campers that stayed behind had a nice meal of lasagna waiting for us back at the yurt. The rest of the evening was spent showering and relaxing back at the roaring campfire.

The following morning, with nothing on the schedule but a trip home, we all got to sleep in a little longer (with the exception of one person who was awoken by the wild animal lingering outside her tent for a couple of hours). We again had a nice leisurely breakfast in the kitchen before cleaning up and heading out. It was sad to leave the mountainside camp, but most of us were sure we'd come back at some point.

Some things learned on our trip:
* Bats can make a sound like a cat's hiss (or was there really a mountain lion in the cave with us?)
* The resident pigs that eat the Mountain Institute's compost, really enjoy bacon fat (ewwwwww...).
* None of the buildings on the Mountain Institute's property can be square.

Have some photos from this event that you'd like to share in our photo album? Please forward them to Amy Lipsius at Please note that we prefer to receive the photos in approximately 640x480 or 750x500 pixels - do NOT send original high-res photos. If you have a LOT of photos, please submit up to twenty of your favorites (only) for a day event, or up to forty of your favourites for a multi-day event. Thank you.