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Yukon Territory Expedition– Part I

Howdy! The first part of our expe­di­tion went very well as we explored the sel­dom vis­ited Itsi Range. We drove 11 hours on gravel roads, bush planed to Fuller Lake, then heli hopped deeper into the range. It is highly likely that no one has ever vis­ited the region we explored.
Yukon - Summit
The French-​​Canadian moun­tain guide who joined us for fun turned out to be a real asset. He taught the kids ice climb­ing, crevasse res­cue, glac­ier travel, etc.
A first ascent of a beau­ti­ful Yukon Peak! Eight TAASC mem­bers and moun­tain guide, Éliel Bureau-​​LaFontane, on the sum­mit. The ascent took all day and required all our skills and stamina.
The last day we hiked out about 5 miles back to Fuller Lake. It was one of the hard­est days any of us have ever done. We had to first climb up 1,000′ out of our val­ley to reach a high pass, then down tough ter­rain to the lake. What made it so hard was the huge loads we were car­ry­ing. Lots of win­ter gear and climb­ing gear made for extremely heavy packs. But we made it!
We’re back in White­horse to resup­ply for the 10 day Tes­lin River trip.

Last Evening at the Beach

photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of our gang played in the ocean one last time before we head home tomor­row. Wil­son is in the kayak.

The Famous Angel Oak Tree

We took a field trip today to visit the Angel Oak.photo

It is a live oak tree esti­mated to pos­si­bly be 1500 years old. It was gigantic!!!

The End!

Reached the high­way 701 take­out at 10:30 AM. Cleaned all the boats and gear and now dream­ing of food we didn’t have…
Great trip. Great kids!!!
On to the beach house tomorrow!

Rope Swing

We found this great rope swing today and every­one played on it for a long time.
We are in the woods again tonite, but it is nice. Just a few bugs, not bad. Not bad enough to zip the mos­quito net door of a tent while a bunch of kids are play­ing cards after supper.
We are upstream of the Great Pee Dee River con­flu­ence with our river. Slightly ahead of sched­ule and will be in good shape to meet bus and Benita 6/​22 around noon.

Lumber River

photo 1 (1)We arrived at Fair Bluff, SC around 5:00 PM. Long drive. Locals told us of a fab­u­lous, white sand beach about 1/​4 mile upstream, so we pad­dled against the cur­rent and made camp early. The beach is beau­ti­ful. Appar­ently we will see lots of them because the river is low. Every­one is doing well. We head down­stream tomor­row. More later.

Annual Appalachian Trail Trip

We are all back home tonight.

photo 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every­one had a great expe­ri­ence and learned a lot!

River Rescue Training

photo 3We had a great week­end of canoe train­ing. Sat­ur­day after­noon we prac­ticed strokes and res­cue tech­niques, and Sun­day we went to the river and practiced.

 

 

 

 

BANFF

The Banff Film Fes­ti­val was a lot of fun. We camped in our secret camp­site, got in some great climb­ing, went to both film nights, and lots of TAASC par­ents went with us. We were rained out Sun­day, but joined Asheville TAASC for break­fast, and then went to REI to drool. Great trip!

Youngers Trip

What a fine look­ing crew!

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The kids worked on learn­ing to fit packs well, treat water, and some tried bivy­ing out since we had such a pretty star filled evening. Temps were mild to warm and it is time to start remem­ber­ing the sun hats and sun­screen! Thanks to every­one for com­ing out.T

Warm and Toasty.

Every­one is doing great. Very cold up here. Prob­a­bly zero wind chill. More pho­tos to come!

Some folks are camp­ing in the woods and some are out on the slab, guess who?

They’re Out!

We’re out!Ellison's Fantastic Pit (1)
Great trip.
Another his­tor­i­cal TAASC first!
Jacob, Will and Will did the 586′ deep Fan­tas­tic Pit with our caver friend Zooks, while the rest of group explored the Attic. 
Headed down the moun­tain to 20 degree night! 

It’s Finally Stopped Raining!

The boul­ders were too wet to climb so we photo 5headed up Pigeon Moun­tain in search of the His­toric Entrance to Ellison’s Cave. We had a great after­noon explor­ing on the moun­tain with radar on for pos­si­ble new caves. After sev­eral hours of look­ing in the wrong area, we finally found the entrance and looked around inside for about 200′. Every­one is very excited to return with our cav­ing gear and explore it fully.

 

Ellison's Fantastic PitEllison’s is one of the deep­est caves in the U.S., with two of the deep­est free fall pits. The Fan­tas­tic Pit rap­pel is 586′. The Wash­ing­ton Mon­u­ment would fit inside the pit. We did not bring the ver­ti­cal gear to do any rope work this trip, but the kids are psy­ched to train and return.

 

National Geo­graphic photo of Fan­tas­tic Pit in Ellison’s Cave!

Annual Rock Town Trip

Every­one slept warm last night even though the temp was 32 degrees.  imageWe were able to get in a few hours of climb­ing before the rain started.

We have 13 folks on the trip this year, with the pos­si­bil­ity of some TAASC grad­u­ates join­ing us at some point.

We had a great week­end of cold weather camp­ing, boul­der­ing and movies!
We tested the new Fortress bivy sacks while we cooked sup­per. I made the Fortresses for the 2014 TAASC Ragged Range Expe­di­tion and we tested them on the 2013 Mt. Nirvana-​​Ragged Range Expe­di­tion. These sacks, made from Tyvek, make win­ter camp­ing enjoy­able. Meal times, when peo­ple are sit­ting still, is typ­i­cally when they get cold. The Fortress allows them to cook while being in a wind proof, cozy cocoon. Cook­ing inside it is pos­si­ble, but it gets too steamy, but by sit­ting in the entrance, a per­son can cook with the stove on the ground and be fairly sheltered. 
     Every­one was really warm Sat­ur­day night even though the low temp was 14 with high winds. Con­nor, Jacob and Davis  wanted more of a win­ter chal­lenge, so they bivied in the exposed upper tree­house, 60 feet above ground with awe­some views into Linville Gorge. They were warm also.

Mountain Rescue

Mountain RescueRecent Old­ers’ meet­ing prac­tic­ing moun­tain res­cue with a Hor­i­zon­tal Lit­ter Lower system.

Youngers’ Climbing Trip

Gingercake Climbing (2)We set up camp in a beau­ti­ful for­est, ate lunch, then hiked across the top of the moun­tain to the climb­ing and rap­pelling area.Gingercake Climbing (1)         Lots of par­ents and Old­ers on the trip. Should be a great one!

Mike’s Back!!!

We heli­coptered out of the east­ern sanc­tu­ary of Mt. Nir­vana by the skin of our teeth! The weather was chal­leng­ing, cold driz­zle inter­spersed with beau­ti­ful, sunny days and snow. The heli­copter pilot got all nine of us out, with gear, in 4 trips as the clouds swirled in and out of the val­leys, mak­ing fly­ing tricky.

We had a mag­nif­i­cent trip explor­ing the nearby val­leys and cirques and all agreed that this was one of the most spec­tac­u­lar places any of us had ever seen. The feel­ing of true wilder­ness, where no human has ever been, was a huge factor.

The high­light was TAASC grad­u­ates, Isaac Hoff, Joey Thomas and Bryan Haslam, mak­ing the 5th ascent of Mt. Nir­vana, the high­est peak in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries. They climbed the moun­tain in 44 hours round trip from base­camp. Con­di­tions were tough with lots of wet, cold water run­ning on the rock pitches. They reached the sum­mit at 8:00 PM on August 29, and we were able to pho­to­graph them wav­ing. They then pro­ceeded to rap­pel down all night arriv­ing at their bivy site in the morning.

We look for­ward to get­ting back to North Car­olina and enjoy­ing some warmer weather!

Heading Home!

Sierras, Yosemite (3)We left the won­der­ful world of Yosemite Val­ley this morn­ing. The Val­ley spell def­i­nitely infected our crew, most every­one wanted to stay another 30 days. We climbed, ate, slept and did it all over again, day after day.
Sierras, Yosemite (1)
 Last night we watched the Search and Res­cue pro­gram at the Yosemite The­atre. John Dill, the Chief Res­cue Ranger of 40 years and an old friend of mine, nar­rated the show. It was very edu­ca­tional, even for our group. Some of our folks are really fired up about res­cue now, so I guess we will be doing a lot of that train­ing this year!

Yosemite Life

We are get­ting used to this climb­ing life. Every­one wants to stay here photo 2another month. Today we climbed routes at the base of El Cap.            Great routes! Great fun!

Summit!

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the first TAASC team to ever climb Snake Dike on Half Dome, 8 pitches.Keeping Watch over Half Dome

Jacob Ciof­fo­letti, Davis Clark, Will Soper, Will Wilson.

We just received word via radio from the sum­mit of Half Dome that our tired climbers made it! Every­one is in good shape. Now they descend the cable lad­ders and hike 8 miles back down to the Val­ley floor.

Here is the sup­port team at Glac­ier Point watch­ing their progress, Half Dome is in the background.

We’re Out!

of the Sier­ras. Every­one in great shape. sev­en­teen days Sierras (12)of intense weather, for­est fire smoke, heat, rain, the ela­tion of reach­ing hard won sum­mits, dif­fi­cult ele­va­tion gains and losses, many nights liv­ing above 10,000 feet, trad­ing food, 3 day solo with­out food, bivy on top of 12,300 foot Mt. Hooper, unbe­liev­able scenery, mostly off trail hik­ing, for­get­ting the First Aid kit and Jacob, Sierras (6)Emory and Soper back­track­ing 9 miles at night to retrieve it (our heroes), a few minor ten­sions, but most impor­tantly of all… every­one came out of the Sier­ras as good friends with the feel­ing of accom­plish­ing an amaz­ing expe­di­tion together in good style!

 

Sierras Bound!

We are now at the air­port and are await­ing our flight to California.

Sierras Bound! (2)

No hur­ry­ing, every­one Sierras Bound! (1)relaxed, yet so excited we had to issue Pam­pers ( get it? So excited, they are pee­ing in their pants! ). Just kid­ding:~.
It’s going to be an amaz­ing trip!

Beach Trip

Beach Trip (1)We left Lake Mar­ion Sat­ur­day after­noon and headed for Folly Beach.  A visit to the gro­cery store was chal­leng­ing, as it always is after a long trip. The urge to buy every­thing is pow­er­ful. Every­one agreed to clean all gear before tak­ing show­ers and mov­ing into the beach house. Noah, Jacob and Jo were wait­ing for us, as were TAASC grad­u­ates Tyler Lin­dell and Sarah Ciof­fo­letti. All is going well here at the beach house. We may stop on the way home to serve as guinea pigs for the new zip guides that TJ and Joe Loven­shimer are train­ing. If we do, it will prob­a­bly be around 8:00 pm when we arrive home.

Congaree Swamp Trip

Well, do you remem­ber the Humphrey Bog­art movie, the African Queen? The past two days have been chal­leng­ing with bugs, fallen trees, mud, pass­ing fully loaded canoes through trees across Cedar Creek and lots of gigan­tic snakes.
Congaree River 1
Nine­teen TAASC kids and par­ents slugged it out thru Con­ga­ree National Park until 10pm last night then busted out onto the mighty Con­ga­ree River! Whew! Every­one loved the beauty of the swamp, giant cypress and tupelo trees, thou­sands of cypress knees and the twisty– turny nature of the small, creek, never know­ing what we are going to see around each bend, BUT a huge cheer rose from the group when we reached the Con­ga­ree late last night. We had to pad­dle til 1:00 am Congaree River 3under a nice moon sans head­lamps until we finally found a place to set up camp. Everyone was in good spir­its for the most part dur­ing the ordeal. High spir­its this morning!
No sun­burn, but def­i­nitely some bug bites. One of the high­lights was the mas­sive, friendly rat snake that every­one enjoyed hav­ing their photo with.
 
Three more camp­sites until we take out on Sat­ur­day, then onwards to a well deserved beach trip!

TAASC Open House Fundraiser

Join us for our Open House Fundraiser

Fri­day, May 31st, 4pm — 6pm

Tour the climb­ing gym, see videos and pho­tos of past trips, lis­ten to mem­bers and grad­u­ates tell about their experiences.

Enjoy our Baked Goods and Lemon­ade sale and help “Bail Out” one of the Tree­house Prisoners

Wanna see more? Come join us for a fun evening.

Green River Kayak Trip

Howdy! Green River Kayak (1)
We had a great kayak trip down the lower Green River and we were joined by the Lackey fam­ily of 6!

Green River Kayak (2)

 

 

The Green was run­ning well with all the recent rain and every­one learned a lot, but we were reminded that we have a lot more teach­ing to do to raise everyone’s skill levels.

Unfor­tu­nately, I did not get any action pho­tos, because we hur­ried down the river to avoid the after­noon storm, but here are the before and after shots.

Worley’s Cave

We had a great time caving.Worley's Cave (2)

Twenty peo­ple total!

Paradise Found!

Cedar Rock (3)

Armed with a new guide­book, we climbed

two amaz­ing areas this week­end. This area requires an hour long hike in through beau­ti­ful forests and offers tons of routes. We have just scratched the sur­face and every­one wants to return ASAP.

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Camp Harrison

Camp Harrison (2) Camp Harrison (5)

Bailing Out!

Appalachian Trail (3)
Well, we had to abort the annual AT trip one day early due to seri­ous weather con­di­tions. Fri­day was fore­cast to have more cold rain and wind, so we bailed. The kids now know that they have the option of hun­ker­ing down and stay­ing in camp when weather gets seri­ous or bail if that is pos­si­ble. This was the most con­tin­u­ously cold AT trip we have had in years, yet all the kids and par­ents ( 21 total ) did an awe­some job of stay­ing warm!

Annual Appalachian Trail Backpack Trip

Howdy!Appalachian Trail (2)Both groups are off to a wild start!

The Youngers started at Carver’s Gap and are hik­ing through snow, but deal­ing with it just fine.

The Old­ers were dropped off near Erwin, TN along the Nolichucky River. It’s a cold, windy, snowy trip, but every­one is psy­ched!!!            See you in 5 days!

Inner Peaks

We had a neat week­end of vari­ety. Sat­ur­day we went to Inner Peaks Climb­ing Gym in Charlotte. Saturday night we met some sci­en­tists at the south end of Linville Gorge.
Then most of the kids slept in porta-​​ledges in our gym. Sun­day morn­ing Gen­nifer H brought us break­fast! Asheville TAASC joined us all week­end and all the kids had a blast!

Banff Film Festival

The Banff Film Fes­ti­val was incred­i­ble last night. Every­one absolutely loved it and can’t wait til tonite’s show. We set up camp around 11:00 PM and every­one was up early to climb today. Even though we had a steep 45 minute hike up the moun­tain to reach the Fate Osteen cliffs, we had a ton of climbs set up by the time Asheville TAASC arrived. We are now a group of 36! The weather is fan­tas­tic for climb­ing and the views are amaz­ing! More later…

Sierras Trip Meeting!

Thurs­day, Feb. 28th at 7:00 PM.

We will have a meet­ing of expe­di­tion mem­bers and their par­ents at the gym to talk about the upcom­ing Sier­ras and Yosemite trip. Inter­ested oth­ers are invited as well. We hope to show you a vir­tual tour of the pro­posed route on the big screen with Google Earth. You will be amazed by the beau­ti­ful coun­try that this 17 day route cov­ers.
All TAASC fam­i­lies are encour­aged to attend, espe­cially par­ents of the Youngers to develop an appre­ci­a­tion of the pro­gres­sion of skills and expe­ri­ence needed to tackle the greater adventures.

We did it !!!

Ser­vice Project — Mov­ing RockService Project 3

Twenty– four par­ents and kids worked to near exhaus­tion, but we com­pleted the ser­vice project by 3:00 PM. Everyone worked really, really hard. It was a very impres­sive dis­play of per­se­ver­ance and teamwork!

Con­grat­u­la­tions and thanks to all who turned out in cold conditions!

Winter Trip

Youngers' Winter Trip 1We back­packed in to the east side of the moun­tain today and found a delight­ful camp­site near a beau­ti­ful creek. After pitch­ing camp and eat­ing lunch, we began a long, hard day hike up the side. We reached the top around 4:00pm, took a break, then started back to camp along a dif­fer­ent route and arrived back to camp around dark. Every­one is tired, but doing well and stay­ing warm.

Wintery Mix!

High­lights from the win­ter trip this week­end: watch­ing the moon light up the tops of clouds Sat­ur­day night from the Brown Moun­tain over­look and top of Hawks­bill; see­ing tons of beau­ti­ful ici­cles; explor­ing a gigan­tic shel­ter cave.

winter-trip-6 winter-trip-10

Cold, Windy and Lots of Snow!

winter-trip-4

Ahhh.….the Old­ers finally got their wish:  cold, windy and lots of snow!!! After set­ting up camp at Carver’s Gap, we hiked up to the top of one of the grassy balds under the light of a beau­ti­ful moon. Every­one is stay­ing warm and toasty. They are well prepared.

winter-trip-5

Cook­ing in a snow kitchen last night and back to the summit today to explore new snow drift tent sites for next week­end.

Birthday Whirl

Here’s one of many beau­ti­ful ascents from the Rock Town trip. Since it is her birth­day today, she cre­ated this cool boul­der prob­lem and called it, “Birth­day Whirl.”

IMG_​1598

Annual Bouldering Trip

Hav­ing a great day, everyone’s in boul­der­ing heaven!!!

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!

THERE WILL BE NO THURSDAY MEETINGS ON DECEMBER 20 AND 27 DUE TO THE HOLIDAYS AND THE ANNUAL BOULDERING TRIP
Have a won­der­ful hol­i­day sea­son with friends and family!!!
Mike Fis­chesser

Fantastic Climbing Weather!

Enjoyed fan­tas­tic climb­ing weather this week­end in Linville Gorge. Everyone tried hard to pull Hawks­bill down into the ground!

Sunday Morning

After a warm 47 degree night, we are explor­ing some cool areas on the top. Every­one is hav­ing a great time!

On the Trail

Every­one is doing well as we trudge up the trail to the top. The 2000 for­est fire is still very evi­dent. At this rate it will be 100 years before the for­est returns. On to the sum­mit after lunch!

Every­one slept warm last night, but the rock is really cold for climbing.

Look at the huge sur­viv­ing hem­lock tree that we need to treat.

Trail Work

We had a great week­end of ser­vice, camp­ing and climb­ing. On Sat­ur­day we had a strong turn-​​out of Old­ers to help with trail work on the Moun­tains to Sea Trail. We then drove over to Table Rock and had a beau­ti­ful evening.

On Sun­day every­one wore their fin­gers to the bone on the amaz­ing, pri­vate boul­der prob­lems at the Out­ward Bound School. Peo­ple were try­ing to fight grav­ity so hard that you would have thought a pack of jack­als were nip­ping at their heels. Every­one will prob­a­bly be at school all week dream­ing of at least one boul­der prob­lem that they want to return to and complete.

The hard­est prob­lem of the day and he almost com­pletes it!

Climbing on Stone

We have four rope teams work­ing their way up dif­fer­ent routes. The new guy is hav­ing the time of his life on rope with famous climber and TAASC grad­u­ate, Brad Wil­son. In the photo they have 300′ more to go. See Gallery for more photos.

Youngers’ Trip

Despite the rain, every­one is hav­ing a good time. We are half way to camp and the rain has stopped for the time being. The views are really cool look­ing out over the clouds!

 

Annual Summersville Lake Family Weekend

Sun­day at Lunch Rock on Sum­mersville Lake with 36 crazy TAASC kids and parents!

New River Gorge Bridge

Hi Every­one!
A friend of Mike’s allowed 31 of the TAASC kids and par­ents to do the BRIDGE WALK! A life­time adven­ture 875′ above the New River.

Look at that smile!

170 Miles Completed!

On Sat­ur­day morn­ing, June 23, Mor­gan­ton TAASC mem­bers com­pleted their 170 mile canoe expe­di­tion across South Car­olina. The trip was a huge suc­cess with all mem­bers arriv­ing strong, healthy and tanned.

We headed to the rental house at Folly Beach, where every­one will recu­per­ate from the canoe trip and a year of school. The beach house is really nice and every­one has gone into slug mode, with some bursts of ener­getic activ­ity. Some folks did some nice surf kayak­ing today. Loralie and David Clark came down today and are stay­ing nearby. Nina Fis­chesser and Isaac Hoff arrive tomor­row and Mark Vit­rone returns on Tues­day. TAASC grad­u­ate, Sarah Ciof­fo­letti, sur­prised her brother and arrived from Chapel Hill last night. I have a meet­ing with the USS York­town peo­ple some­time this week to sell them ziplines from ship to shore and hope­fully a Beanstalk For­est adven­ture park. I will prob­a­bly take the kids to the York­town and some to walk around Charleston.

Here are all the expe­di­tion mem­bers after the con­flu­ence with the Con­ga­ree River. Every­one is still doing well and we are camped at the begin­ning of Lake Mar­ion tonight after a 17 mile day.

170 Mile Canoe Expedition

Howdy!
We just set up camp sev­eral miles upstream from the con­flu­ence of the Con­ga­ree and Wateree Rivers. It is Day 3 and we have 20 awe­some peo­ple on this expe­di­tion and every­one is fan­tas­tic! Day 1 we pad­dled 16 miles in 4 hours! Day 2 we pad­dled an unbe­liev­able 34 miles, from 10:00 to 8:00PM! Day 3, today, we got to camp at 5:00PM after 20 miles of pad­dling. We have 6 adults and 14 kids. Ten of the kids are age 13 and under. Minor sun­burn turn­ing tan. Beau­ti­ful weather. Deep wilder­ness. Lots of fun. Head­ing to Lake Mar­ion tomorrow.

By the time we get to the end of Day 5 this group will have pad­dled about 100 miles.

Visiting Linville Falls (from the bottom)

We had another great Youngers trip this past week­end. We night-​​hiked with head­lamps down the Bushy Ridge Trail (one mile and flat) into Linville Gorge Fri­day night and set up our base camp near Bull Branch. From there, on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, we hiked all the way over to Linville Falls where we ate lunch, dipped and rested. Back to camp Sat­ur­day after­noon to take it down and pack up for the hike back to the bus. The round trip hike to the falls was chal­leng­ing, but every­one made it. Every­one agreed that the effort was worth it to see Linville Falls from the bot­tom. Wait ‘til you see the pic­tures at the Annual Recog­ni­tion Dinner.

Cancer Research Canoe Trip

We made it! Eleven peo­ple for eight days cov­ere­ing 170 miles from Cam­den, S.C. to Hwy. 41 and every­one had a fan­tas­tic time.

Expe­di­tion mem­bers were Olivia Gage (TAASC graduate/​Medical school stu­dent), Monika Lesch (TAASC gym owner and mom of two past grad­u­ates, Nathaniel and Zachary), Will Wil­son, Luke “Thun­der­bird” Carlisle (age 10!), Molly Franklin, Cas­sidy Mull, Lau­rin Jen­nings, Cody Mem­mel, Jacob Ciof­fo­letti, Livy Franklin and Mike Fischesser.

At the Recog­ni­tion Din­ner we col­lected $1,300 in pledges toward colon can­cer research. Our goal was $3,000. It is time to send in the amount you pledged.

Please make checks payable to: Climb For Colon Cancer.

Send them to us at:

TAASC
P.O. Box 69
Jonas Ridge, NC 28641

We will gather them and send them to Matt Hardy in Boul­der, CO (Past TAASC mem­ber and founder of C4CC. I will for­ward the email from Matt that he sent us in July — in case you would like to refresh your mem­ory. If you are able to con­tribute a bit more, that would be great!

Younger’s Weekend at the Kettles

The Youngers and their men­tors had a great trip to the Ket­tles of Steele’s Creek on May 15 and 16. Every­one played hard, like river otters in the freez­ing cold water, for hours, until their teeth were chat­ter­ing hard!

We wore PFDs and hel­mets at all times to be safe on the slick rocks. Every­one did well with the 1.5-mile approach hike. We camped along Gin­ger­cake Creek on Sat­ur­day night and the next day hiked to the sum­mit of Hawks­bill Moun­tain, which was really cool.

Thanks to the men­tors who helped out.

27 Miles on the Broad River

We had an absolutely per­fect canoe/​camping trip this past week­end. We camped beside the Broad River Fri­day night and com­pleted 27 miles of the Broad River Expe­di­tion to raise money for colon can­cer research.

The river was beau­ti­ful. It was clear, swift, “wilder­nessy” and fun. Every­one had an incred­i­ble time run­ning lots of mel­low Class 2 rapids.

We will have a one-​​day, 27-​​mile, make-​​up day on Sun­day, April 25 for those who couldn’t make it this past week­end, but you must let us know by Tues­day night.

Thanks to TAASC grad­u­ates T.J. Weller and Thomas McCombs for run­ning the shut­tle for us!

Annual Appalachian Trail Backpack Trip

We left the gym on Mon­day, April 5, with 22 TAASC folks in the bus and drove to Watauga Lake in Tennessee.

Around 2 p.m. we began hik­ing in really hot weather up a steep hill to gain a ridge­line that was 16 miles long! For the next two days we plod­ded along in the heat ‘til we reached the mon­u­ment and gravesite for Uncle Nick Grind­staff who died in 1924 and accord­ing to the marker, “lived alone, suf­fered alone, and died alone.”

On Thurs­day the weather changed to a cold, windy, hard-​​at-​​times rain. Over 14 years of AT trips in April the weather con­tin­ues to always throw us a chal­lenge. In 2000, we had to abort five miles into the trip due to a freak snow­storm that dumped four inches. The cold, chal­leng­ing weather on Thurs­day really drove the point home of the impor­tance that ALL TAASC mem­bers must do at least one trip per month for the expe­ri­ence and train­ing to deal with seri­ous sit­u­a­tions such as the weather we had this year. Peo­ple were get­ting cold, wet and tired after nine miles of hik­ing that day (and a total of 31 miles over four days), so we grabbed the first camp­site we could find and got every­one in the tents and into warm, dry sleep­ing bags.

The next morn­ing, Fri­day, was our last day and every­one was eager to reach Dam­as­cus, VA our final des­ti­na­tion. We chugged along the remain­ing five miles that morn­ing and ran smack into Mike and Karen Ayotte at the edge of town. Karen had baked fresh cook­ies for all and you’ve never seen cook­ies con­sumed so fast. We hiked on into town with visions of pizza and “real food” on our minds.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to all the kids who com­pleted the 40 mile trip and espe­cially four amaz­ing Younger mem­bers who did a truly awe­some job of han­dling this tough chal­lenge in good style: Zach Ayotte, Con­nor Brazin­ski, Luke Carlisle and Spencer Mem­mel. Thanks to Molly Franklin for plan­ning the trip and being the over­all leader and to all the other kids who served as daily leaders.

Another Full Weekend!

We had an incred­i­ble week­end of expe­ri­ences! Here’s a sum­mary: on Fri­day after­noon we had a really cool tour of Appalachian State University’s Out­door Pro­grams. I think it made a big impres­sion on a lot of our TAASC kids. Some of them are now seri­ously con­sid­er­ing ASU as a poten­tial col­lege
to attend.

After that we ate sup­per at Black Cats, then on to the Banff Film Fes­ti­val. Banff con­tin­ues to be a real high­light of the year for all the TAASC kids.

We finally arrived at Cedar Rock Camp­ground around mid­night. At 7:30 a.m. Sat­ur­day we drove over to Stone Moun­tain State Park and began the approach hike to the sum­mit at 8:30 a.m. It was a tough one-​​hour hike because only six kids showed up to help with the Rappel-​​a-​​thon and we had to hump in 150 lbs. of ropes (4,000’), rig­ging gear and our per­sonal equip­ment. But every­one did great with no com­plaints. We rigged our brand new 1,000’ ropes in record time. Usu­ally it takes hours, but this crew com­pleted the task by 10:30 a.m.!

We only had two Rappel-​​a-​​thon guests (Bon­nie Wil­son and Sheila) so it didn’t take too long to get them down the moun­tain and hike back up.

At 2 p.m., 17 staff and kids from the Asheville TAASC pro­gram arrived. Our kids taught them how to descend and ascend 400 feet and at the end of the day, three of their 10 year-​​old girls got to do the 1,000’ rap­pel. It was a real high­light of their life and they were very appre­cia­tive and thank­ful for the oppor­tu­nity. The three girls were best friends since age three and had joined TAASC together two years ago.

Our newest mem­ber, Will Dun­can did great on his first TAASC trip, as did two broth­ers from Char­lotte, Austin (age 16) and Davis (12). They are mov­ing to Mor­gan­ton soon and are very excited about join­ing TAASC. They got to do the 1,000’ rap­pel also.

We pulled up and coiled all the ropes at the end of the day, then went to our favorite local restau­rant, Mazzini’s, to cel­e­brate the day. Since the weather fore­cast was for 90% rain on Sun­day, we decided to head on back to Mor­gan­ton and arrived at the gym at 10:30 p.m.

Thanks to all the kids who helped out with the Rappel-​​a-​​thon. They really worked hard and did a great job of teach­ing oth­ers, mon­i­tor­ing safety and hump­ing loads of gear!

Thanks to Bon­nie and Sheila for hav­ing the courage to brave the 1,000’ rap­pel and raise money for TAASC.

Thanks to Mike and Karen Ayotte and Mor­gan­ton Fed­eral Sav­ings and Loan for their gen­er­ous con­tri­bu­tion, which allowed us to pur­chase 4,000 feet of new rope to make the Rappel-​​a-​​thon much eas­ier to man­age (no knot passes).

And thanks to all the other par­ents and kids who raised money for the Rappel-​​a-​​thon, but weren’t able to attend.

Accord­ing to pledge reports and funds received, it appears that we raised about $2,000 for TAASC this year. Not bad in tough, eco­nomic times. Last year we raised about $5,000. Our bud­get con­tin­ues to run in the red, so please help us recruit new members.

This will help a lot towards the pur­chase of canoe and kayak pad­dles that we des­per­ately need. Thanks to Greg Franklin for arrang­ing a gen­er­ous deal.

Weekend Packpacking Trip

We had the per­fect spring back­pack week­end trip. On Fri­day night we were star gaz­ing off The Pin­na­cle (across from Short­off Moun­tain at the south­ern end of the gorge); then we hiked to a nice camp­site on Yel­low Fork. On Sat­ur­day we back­packed fur­ther towards Dobson’s Knob. Some of the gang were able to get in a bit of climb­ing at a new area called “Black Fork.” Sun­day we woke up at 7:30 a.m., back­packed back to the bus and made it to Wendy’s around noon. It was a great trip to get every­one think­ing about the annual Appalachian Trail trip.

Winter Mountaineering in Roaring Creek Valley

We had an incred­i­ble snow camp­ing trip this past week­end! We snow shoed into the Roar­ing Creek Val­ley Fri­day night, pitched camp on 12”+ snow and finally crawled into our warm bags at 1 a.m.!

The goal of the trip was to be com­fort­able and warm at ALL times and every­one did an out­stand­ing job of doing so. Every­one learned a lot about the art of cold weather camp­ing. Every­one wore our Mouse Boots, so we didn’t have to ever worry about cold toes or frost­bite even though the nights were
down to 20 degrees F.

On Sat­ur­day some folks played on Jacob’s snow­board and Jo and Will built a Quincy snow shel­ter (like an igloo). We had snow saws and snow shov­els. Alyssa pulled Mike’s Mt. McKin­ley expe­di­tion sled, which kept the weight off her bad shoulder.

In the after­noon we snow shoed up to the sum­mit of Lit­tle Hump Moun­tain which was even more of a win­ter won­der­land with 360-​​degree views.

After sup­per Sat­ur­day night we lay (lie lay lain!!!) (lay laid laid!!!) out on our foam pads and watched the stars for hours.

On Sun­day we broke camp and snow shoed 1.5 miles back to the bus and were back to the gym by 1:30 p.m.

All in all it was a mag­i­cal snow jour­ney. Every­one had a ball and stayed com­fort­able at all times and are eager to fur­ther develop their win­ter moun­taineer­ing skills!

Stone Mountain “Goat Hole” Explored

We had a great time at Stone Moun­tain on Sat­ur­day. A large group of Youngers turned out with a hand­ful of Old­ers to help. Molly Franklin, Heather Duffy and Will Wil­son did an out­stand­ing job of guid­ing the Youngers through some excit­ing rope-​​work experiences.

The Youngers trav­eled down a 350-​​foot rope with two prusiks, trans­ferred to another 350 and climbed back up Stone Moun­tain. It was a great taste of the expo­sure of the 930-​​foot rap­pel. Some of the Younger mem­bers prusiked all the way down to the mys­te­ri­ous “goat hole” at 530 feet from the top. Mys­te­ri­ous because for decades the locals won­dered where the wild goats would dis­ap­pear into on the face of Stone Moun­tain. It was a depres­sion, often con­tain­ing some cool pools of water, where the goats would go to get a drink.

Four Days Just Isn’t Enough

We had an incred­i­ble four-​​day climb­ing trip in Linville Gorge that began at my cabin Wednes­day night and fin­ished at Sit­ting Bear Rock Sunday afternoon.

Every­one who went learned a lot of new skills and all agreed that we would’ve liked to have kept the trip going for four or five more days. There was so much more left to do. We climbed at Table Rock on Thurs­day after­noon and a newly devel­oped area named “The Pirate’s Wall” on Fri­day and Saturday.

Rachel Gage, Ehrin Irvin and Zachary Lesch-​​Huie (Orig­i­nal TAASCS mem­bers from 1996) joined us on Saturday.

Our kids had the unique oppor­tu­nity to climb new routes and even work on first ascents!

First Climbing Trip for Newest Youngers

The first, offi­cial climb­ing trip for the new gen­er­a­tion of Youngers was a hoot, literally!

The Saturday/​Sunday trip arrived at my cabin on the edge of Linville Gorge where the Men­tors and Trip Lead­ers taught the Youngers how to select and pitch camp in the woods. Then Nina gave a wildlife talk that included saw whet owls, barred owls, a great horned owl, fly­ing squir­rels and a bobcat.

The rest of the day was spent on a long, four-​​hour loop hike in the gorge that included an old, moonshiner’s still, a bear wal­low­ing hole and lots of other inter­est­ing things. After cook­ing din­ner it was dark and pretty cold, so every­one turned in early.

After break­fast on Sun­day we hiked to Amelia’s Cave (the site where Amelia Clark spent her three-​​day solo). Then back to the gym and a hilar­i­ous and very wet bus wash­ing. It was a great trip and every­one is look­ing for­ward to the next one in Novem­ber. Big thanks to the trip lead­ers and men­tors for a good job!

Collecting Old Glass Soda Bottles

The weather was pretty cold and windy in the moun­tains on Sun­day, so we decided it was too cold to climb and we went to Short Off Moun­tain instead to retrieve a huge pile of old 1960s era glass soda bottles.

We hiked to the top, stashed our climb­ing gear (in case the weather changed) and con­tin­ued north for another two miles. It was a per­fect day for a hike – cold, windy and sunny with tremen­dous views of Linville Gorge and Lake James. The pond was full on top of the mountain!

We had seen the pile of bot­tles on one of the gorge hikes last year and had vowed to return. It was nice to check that small ser­vice project off our list. Appar­ently, there was quite a hunt­ing camp on the north end of Short Off back in the 1960s when a four-​​wheel drive vehi­cle could work its way up from Wolf Pit Road and travel along the top. We ended the day back at the bus at about 5 p.m.

Big Sweep on Wilson Creek

Well, we had another week­end of great activ­ity. On Sat­ur­day, about 30 TAASC peo­ple turned out to help with the Big Sweep. Luck­ily Wil­son Creek (No kin to Will Wil­son!) wasn’t as trashy as past years, but the teams still man­aged to col­lect a pickup truck full of garbage.

Then on Sun­day we went climb­ing on the North Ridge of Table Rock and a cool, secret area called “Dragon’s Lair.”