Friday, June 13, 2014

West Virginia 2014 - Friday - Issues on the Launching Pad

Lack of blogging recently has been more a byproduct of the fact that too much has been going on, and not that nothing much has been happening. Lots of end of school year activities, a concert, Grace's impending birthday, and a guys' camping/hiking trip to West Virginia. More on the rest later, but for now, the camping trip.

With various peoples' commitments and schedules for this year, the likelihood of a big trip has been remote. Following the Ricketts Glen overnight trip back in April, it was agreed that to make sure we could get some camping in this year at all, we needed to get something on the calendar in the way of a 4 day trip, preferably over a weekend to minimize vacation time that people would need to burn. After some back and forth via email, it was agreed that mid June would work, and that the destination would be West Virginia. Specifically, the far eastern part of the state containing the Spruce Knob/Seneca Rocks National Recreation area, and the Dolly Sods Wilderness section of the Monongahela National Forest. The general plan for the trip was a Friday departure and a Monday return, with four of us able to go (Brother Dave, Leo, Ted and myself). The only downside from my point of view was that this was a lot of driving for a four day trip, but the benefits of venturing into what would be virgin territory for all of us outweighed the high ratio of drive time to trip length. And it would add a new state for geocaching...

The Planned Plan - Four of us in a rented SUV leave Friday and drive to West Virginia. Hike Saturday, Sunday and half a day on Monday, then drive home to Pennsylvania, getting home by Monday night.

The Planned Reality - Leo forgot he had a wedding to attend in the early evening, so we would meet at Brother Dave's Friday evening and be on the road by 9pm, driving as far as a hotel in Winchester Virginia, 3 hours away. Wake up Saturday morning bright and early and drive two hours and forty minutes directly to Spruce Knob, the high point of West Virginia, and hike Saturday. Go to the Seneca Shadows Campground after. Hike somewhere in the Dolly Sods Wilderness area Sunday. Do a short hike somewhere Monday morning then drive home.

The Real Reality:

c. 3:00pm to 5:00pm - I am at a local trampoline jumping place for Grace's birthday party, having taken the day off to finish packing, pick up the rental SUV (a Dodge Journey - a "standard SUV"), and go to Grace's birthday party. Her actual birthday isn't for a little while yet, but today was the last day of school, and in order to make sure all her friends could attend her party before scattering to the four winds for the summer, her "school friend party" is today. At one point, I check my phone and see a series of emails and text messages back and forth between the other three trip members, the gist of which is that Ted has had some work emergencies come up, and will either have to cut his Monday as short as possible or not go at all. We all agree that cutting Monday short is far better than losing a person. The more people on a trip the better. At this point we are thinking that Ted will drive his car as far as the Winchester VA hotel, we will leave his car there for the weekend, go in the rented SUV to West Virginia, we all leave early Monday to get him back to his car, he will drive home, and the remaining three of us will find a useful way to burn a few hours in Virginia or somewhere on the way home. We will still all meet at Dave's to leave together, in two vehicles.

7:20pm - I arrive at Dave's. Ted is already there. I wolf down a sandwich I picked up on the way and then we go out to the driveway to begin loading gear pending Leo's arrival. Leo dropped off his gear at Dave's the night before, so we have everything we need to pack the SUV and wait for Leo to show.

7:45pm - We quickly realize that a potential concern is a reality; there is no way in the world all of our gear is going to fit in this "standard sized SUV". We generally rent a minivan for driving trips, which has loads of room, but figured this was a shorter trip so we would need less stuff. The problem is, whether you are camping for 2 nights or 12 nights, the basic gear is the same. Tents. Camp chairs. Sleeping bags and pads. Lanterns. Cooking stuff. Hiking boots and poles. All manner of other stuff. The "variable" stuff in the way of amount of clothing and amount of food is far less of a space eater than the baseline amount of gear. Which is painfully obvious as we stand around in the driveway looking at the pile of stuff and the limited space. We are either leaving any and all absolutely non-critical gear home or we are taking two vehicles. Lesson learned.

8:00pm - So...we are taking two vehicles. Ted will drive all the way instead of just halfway, and we will put all overflow gear in his trunk. Monday he will be free to leave on his own as soon as he chooses and the rest of us can stay and do a short hike in WV before leaving.

8:15pm - Leo arrives earlier than planned. We point out the planning miscalculation, and the new plan. Not much to discuss, so off we go.

8:45pm - We are on the road. Dave is with me and Leo is with Ted. No need for anyone to drive solo. We will go out the PA Turnpike to Interstate 81 at Carlisle, and then south to Winchester. The hotel is right off the highway. It has been a mildly stressful afternoon, and it is great to be on the road.

11:50pm - We arrive at the Comfort Inn in Winchester VA. Traffic wasn't bad and we have made good time. I have been leading, and Ted has stuck to me like glue. I don't think he left my bumper in three hours.

12:10am - We have two rooms, with Leo and Ted in one and Dave and I in the other. Everyone is tired and we have a few long days ahead of us so we have gone to our rooms right away. I remember that game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals was tonight, and being a big hockey fan I turn on the TV to see if I can catch a score. The Los Angeles Kings were up 3 games to 1 over the New York Rangers going into tonight. I hate the Rangers. Flipping around, I find that the game is still on, and is partway through the second overtime.

12:20am - An LA player knocks in a rebound halfway through the second overtime and the Kings have won the Cup, at home, for the second time in three years. That makes two in LA for former Flyers Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams. Grrrr. But better them than the Rangers. Much better.

12:30am - I watch the Cup presentation and then we turn out the lights and go to bed.

The plan for tomorrow - Get up at least reasonably early, drive straight through to Spruce Knob for a high point and a hike, then doubling back to the campground. After finding a geocache near the hotel in Winchester of course...

No comments:

Post a Comment