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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Back in the Field

First things first-

Thanks so much to Nicholas Kurland for taking an active role in trail work around the area, and to Chris Egress and Tyler Hall for donating two bags of canned goods during our last Trail Daze event, food donations for the local family that lives on $1000 per month that we are trying, in our own small way, to help. These folks keep an eye on one of the most popular crags in the area, and this is just one way we can say thank you.

This is also a cease-fire on the Access Fund.

When they do something worth noting in the local area, I let you know.

Til then, nuff said.

Spent Friday night with grandchildren and their parents afterr a hundred mile drive through insane rush-hour traffic.

Rose early and loaded gear, headed off into the Potomac Highlands and spent Saturday night camped in the Beast, with the company of my lovely wife for a change, after an incredible day hiking the North Fork Trail and an evening spent with some old friends in the shadow of Eagle Rock.

We rose early and rolled to our gear cache, then made our way to the canyon as the first churchgoers stirred. Rumbling off the main drag, we found a parking spot near the project, where I quickly assembled the tools to cook pancakes, crepes, and eggs in the cold morning shadows at the west end of the Main Arch of the Entrance Walls.

Curious eyes stared from passing cars as we spread raspberry preserves, rolled tortillas and downed French-pressed French roast (French squared coffee, you might say).

The single burner Coleman was still cooling when a white pickup and two cars pulled in to disgorge our friends Mike, Kyle, Nick, Travis, Joe, and several more, all bound for a project and great lines on the Long Branch Wall in the lower canyon.

We talked about Franklin access, routes on the wall above, the imminent release of the guidebook and the other crags of the canyon, before we made our good-byes and they were off to the races and new routing, while I turned to the task at hand.

Up along the trail, ferns still peeking green and moss glowing between the autumn leaves despite several recent cold snaps, sunlight slanting in from the south as I weave between dead falls and ledges on the plateau.

I loop the old tree on the cliff's edge with the ease of practice and think that soon, very soon, I will not have to make this hike to reach the line.  I rest a hand on the rough bark and silently thank the old pine for staying deeply rooted and alive long enough for me to do my work.  I will miss this hike, the peering step out to the edge, the smell of the pine as I lean in close and work the rope around the trunk.

Soon, very soon, I think, I won't make these hikes at all.

But not today.

I triple check every link in the chain and rap down over the short face to the ledge, then add a bit of line to one side of my rappel and continue down over the roof to the anchors.

Swing in close, clip in with an adjustable daisy, back that up with a second runner on the other anchor. Clio the long side of the the rappel line into the biners on the anchor and pull rope from the long side until the tail comes off of the ground.   Tie a keeper overhand knot in the rope to keep it from feeding back and begin slowly pulling the rope leading up to the original rappel tree, pausing to remove the knot from the end, then once again curling in against the anchors as the end whips down, bringing a shower of twigs and pine needles but, thankfully, no rocks.

Knot the end and drop to the base, clip into and double check rap system, and down we go to the scene of last weekend's rap-bolting epic. The hole where the traitor bit sheared off taunts me as I set a nasty hook behind some crusty rock in a horizontal and ease in close, like a bomb disposal expert on an IED.

Nothing blows, and three minutes later I making dust and noise as the Bosch punches another hole into the limestone.

Another hour of drilling, cleaning, contemplation and rappel sees me back on the ground with six bolts on the line. Andrew Suter, Corey McKenzie and their whitewater companion Alise (sp?) arrive as I shed gear and we spend a few minutes saying hello before they go in search of Entranc Walls fun and I wander off in search of my wife, fishing the South Branch as eagles soar above us.

The Punisher is back in the field, Miss Cindy is somewhere wrangling trout, God is in his Heaven and, for just this one moment, all is right with the world.

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