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Surviving a cold night in the woods


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On 4/2/2021 at 12:18 PM, norseman said:

I highly suggest everyone to go with a outfitter once in there life.

 

@norseman That sounds like SO MUCH FUN! I'm totally in. When do we leave?!

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4 hours ago, Madison5716 said:

 

You've done an excellent job and are definitely prepared for staying the night!   I've always been concerned about breaking a leg or severely twisting an ankle miles in from civilization, especially because there is no cell service. 

 

I like to take my time and prepare for the outing. Before I leave home, I always ask myself, "If I go down, am I ready to make it until SAR can get to me?"

 

We all  learn from our mistakes -- some unknowingly and others just forgetting to bring something. Last summer, I committed a rookie mistake that almost became a major problem. I rushed because I was heading out with someone who wanted to leave earlier than we talked about. Never again, that's for sure.

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On 3/31/2021 at 9:59 PM, BlackRockBigfoot said:

Ramsey's Draft?  I used to kick around Augusta County.

 

Augusta county is where I have spent much of my time, just got back from camping at Lake Sherondo and spent last hunting season in the Big Levels area.

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43 minutes ago, SwiftWater said:

 

Augusta county is where I have spent much of my time, just got back from camping at Lake Sherondo and spent last hunting season in the Big Levels area.

I have only been back a couple of times since college.  Beautiful part of the country.  

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Familiar with that side of the Valley, yes....From Vesuvius and on up into St. Mary's Wilderness and SNP's Southern Section. Was once looking for property to buy around Big Levels, but things did not line up.  I don't know if Paulides every gave it the full "Missing" treatment, but maybe 8-9 years ago a guy disappeared in the Ramsey's Draft area. I mean, full-on "Poof. Gone!"  You can hunt it up on Google I'm sure, but he had been hiking in Wilderness with friends the day before and lost his cell phone along the way. He went back the next day, alone, to look for it. Never found a trace of him, although his pack was in his car at the trailhead parking area. In true  a "Missing" turn of events, a major storm came in that hampered the search, which was massive. The kicker was that his phone had been found the day he lost it by another hiker. She put it in her pack and didn't remember to look for the owner until a few days later...when she read the news of his disappearance. 

 

Which leads me a story I tell on occasion. About 15 years ago I left my family's home over in Middlebrook and drove with my mountain bike over to  W. Augusta and the fire road leading up to the gap and the trail that leads to the top of Elliott's Knob. It was a nice Summer day and my plan was to park at the top of the road and ride my bike up the grind to Elliott's Knob and come down as fast as I could without killing myself. Along the way there is a vernal pool sort of pond on Hogback Mountain...not more than a puddle, but it stays full all year and is pretty rare for that elevation on the Allegheny side of the Valley. I paused there to take a breather and suddenly got the classic "something is watching me" feeling. I had never been that spooked in the outdoors, despite having been solo in these mountains for days, and also out West. Just unmistakable unease. I remember even being surprised to remember that my bike was right next to me. I hopped on it and tore-ass down that mountain. The feeling left me immediately. So weird.        

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2 minutes ago, WSA said:

Familiar with that side of the Valley, yes....From Vesuvius and on up into St. Mary's Wilderness and SNP's Southern Section. Was once looking for property to buy around Big Levels, but things did not line up.  I don't know if Paulides every gave it the full "Missing" treatment, but maybe 8-9 years ago a guy disappeared in the Ramsey's Draft area. I mean, full-on "Poof. Gone!"  You can hunt it up on Google I'm sure, but he had been hiking in Wilderness with friends the day before and lost his cell phone along the way. He went back the next day, alone, to look for it. Never found a trace of him, although his pack was in his car at the trailhead parking area. In true  a "Missing" turn of events, a major storm came in that hampered the search, which was massive. The kicker was that his phone had been found the day he lost it by another hiker. She put it in her pack and didn't remember to look for the owner until a few days later...when she read the news of his disappearance. 

 

Which leads me a story I tell on occasion. About 15 years ago I left my family's home over in Middlebrook and drove with my mountain bike over to  W. Augusta and the fire road leading up to the gap and the trail that leads to the top of Elliott's Knob. It was a nice Summer day and my plan was to park at the top of the road and ride my bike up the grind to Elliott's Knob and come down as fast as I could without killing myself. Along the way there is a vernal pool sort of pond on Hogback Mountain...not more than a puddle, but it stays full all year and is pretty rare for that elevation on the Allegheny side of the Valley. I paused there to take a breather and suddenly got the classic "something is watching me" feeling. I had never been that spooked in the outdoors, despite having been solo in these mountains for days, and also out West. Just unmistakable unease. I remember even being surprised to remember that my bike was right next to me. I hopped on it and tore-ass down that mountain. The feeling left me immediately. So weird.        

I was born and raised up there.

 

The northern corner of the county next to West Virginia is a freakshow of strangeness.  The area south from that around Deerfield had a reputation for weird stuff too.   The nearby George Washington National Forest was were I saw 'something' while on a camping trip while getting my Eagle badge.  There are tons of UFO reports from that area, and one of my uncles who might have been in the position to know such things swore that one of the nearby mountains was hollow.  It might have been just him messing with his nephew, but he kept up the story his entire life and he wasn't the only one who claimed that.  When the Greenbrier story hit the news it kind of gave all of those stories some traction.

 

The local newspaper the Leader ran a story one October when I was a kid detailing the overly high amount of cult and occult activity the area seemed to attract.  A high school girlfriend had an older brother on the city police department who backed up those claims and had a pretty crazy story of his own.

 

Of course, this was decades ago...and I am sure that has all changed by now as the area has grown. But, the undeveloped parts of the county definitely had a strange vibe back then...of course, almost every rural area in every state probably has similar claims.

 

 

 

 

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It is a cool and interesting part of the world, for sure. Then you have the stories of the McChesney haunting. I've driven by this area countless times.  Very weird stuff. 

 

https://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/2016/10/24/the-mcchesneys-ghost/

 

Here's the summary of the guy who disappeared:

 

https://www.newsleader.com/story/news/local/2014/07/03/missing-since-search-staunton-man-goes/12144441/

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My old grade school had an entrance behind it that lead to a series of limestone caverns that were used by the Confederates in the war effort when the local area suffered Union incursions.  The whole area is riddled with pretty large caverns.  There were always stories about those caves when I was a kid.  

 

The whole area in and around Staunton is thick with ghost stories.  The Trinity Episcopal Church there has lost a couple of ministers due to the activity there.

 

I got lost in the back county one time trying to find a friend's house.  Just a 16 year old kid with a crappy car.  No cell phones back then.  

 

I ended up in the area where the Mennonites lived.  A bunch of big, dark houses with hex symbols on the barns and billboards in the yards talking about 'repent or burn in hell's.  It was spooky.

 

When I got home that night my grandmother was still up.  I described how strange that area was.  It opened up a floodgate of old stories from her about that area into West Virginia.  Haints, catamounts, and headless Confederate cavalrymen.

 

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Oh yeah, I grew up on those stories too, but you are right about the caves, definitely. The karst geology is riddle with caverns. My grandfather drilled wells all over Augusta/Rockbridge Counties. Wasn't unusual to have the whole drill rod just drop suddenly out of sight down the hole. I remember that whole sections of Beverly St. in Staunton started caving into sink holes at one point.

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10 minutes ago, BlackRockBigfoot said:

I was born and raised up there.

 

The northern corner of the county next to West Virginia is a freakshow of strangeness.  The area south from that around Deerfield had a reputation for weird stuff too.   The nearby George Washington National Forest was were I saw 'something' while on a camping trip while getting my Eagle badge.  There are tons of UFO reports from that area, and one of my uncles who might have been in the position to know such things swore that one of the nearby mountains was hollow.  It might have been just him messing with his nephew, but he kept up the story his entire life and he wasn't the only one who claimed that.  When the Greenbrier story hit the news it kind of gave all of those stories some traction.

 

The local newspaper the Leader ran a story one October when I was a kid detailing the overly high amount of cult and occult activity the area seemed to attract.  A high school girlfriend had an older brother on the city police department who backed up those claims and had a pretty crazy story of his own.

 

Of course, this was decades ago...and I am sure that has all changed by now as the area has grown. But, the undeveloped parts of the county definitely had a strange vibe back then...of course, almost every rural area in every state probably has similar claims.

 

 

 

 

 

@WSA @BlackRockBigfoot Thanks both for the stories. Makes me feel less crazy. We moved to this area a few years ago and finally bought this house shortly before the pandemic set in. Prior to the house most of our outdoor activities had been limited to hiking and camping in Shenandoah NP. Now having a freezer to fill we've started to roam more in the GW national forest. Had an experience last summer that I've never had elsewhere. Went to check out a meadow, made it about 10' in, and had the most overwhelming urge to LEAVE. I've never had anything like that feeling before and I've hunted, hiked, and camped up and down the eastern seaboard and as far west as Missouri. Have seen/felt a few other things that my wife and I have taken to documenting.

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6 minutes ago, SwiftWater said:

 

@WSA @BlackRockBigfoot Thanks both for the stories. Makes me feel less crazy. We moved to this area a few years ago and finally bought this house shortly before the pandemic set in. Prior to the house most of our outdoor activities had been limited to hiking and camping in Shenandoah NP. Now having a freezer to fill we've started to roam more in the GW national forest. Had an experience last summer that I've never had elsewhere. Went to check out a meadow, made it about 10' in, and had the most overwhelming urge to LEAVE. I've never had anything like that feeling before and I've hunted, hiked, and camped up and down the eastern seaboard and as far west as Missouri. Have seen/felt a few other things that my wife and I have taken to documenting.

The area around North River would be an interesting spot to explore...if you are interested in strange activity... especially the old North River Lean To's, if they are still standing.

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Or leaning...

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6 minutes ago, BlackRockBigfoot said:

The area around North River would be an interesting spot to explore...if you are interested in strange activity... especially the old North River Lean To's, if they are still standing.

 

May take a wander up that way. Right now I'm more of a passive observer than actively seeking strange activity. Have had enough experiences in the past to know that sometimes things you don't want can and will follow you home and I have two little ones to watch over. However that doesn't preclude going out scouting for hunting or checking out the trout fishing and taking notes of what I happen to see.

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