Thursday, January 21, 2016

Anchor Replacement; or, A Midwinter's Tale

Just back from Smoke Hole and Reed Creek where, despite sunshine, the temperatures were in the upper teens and low 20s throughout the afternoon. Wanted to do some trail maintenance, but just too bitter to do much of anything when, even in gloves, my fingertips went numb in about 15 minutes.

Replaced anchor on Spanker Right at Darkside of Long Branch yesterday, while Miss Cindy, my lovely wife, wisely waited in the RV and read Asimov, monitoring the radio in case things fell apart on me while in the air. Temperatures in the shadow of the north-facing ridge were in the upper teens by noon, with high cloud cover moving in and snow flurries starting just as I shouldered my pack at the road.

Despite keeping drill warm all night and morning, by the time I got on rappel, had to warm it inside my jacket again to thaw the grease in the hammer drill enough to operate. Pulled both old cold shuts and bolts, all very rusty, especially at point of contact between cold shut and bolt shaft.

First new bolt hole went south when ice formed in the hole from my breath through the blow tube.

Finally got in two new anchors and rapped with just over 1/4" of dry snow fallen and beginning to blow around, making the descent through the talus field a challenge to say the least.

 We inhaled a pot of coffee and snack for energy as the engine warmed up for our escape, then retreated to Thorn Spring Park for large servings of chicken Alfredo and strong libations, sending out texts and sitreps while watching The Martian on my computer's DVD player and huddling next to the wood stove.

Returned to Reed's this morning, but bitter temps had once again plunged the area into nuclear winter, and we retreated after a short hike.

Back across South Fork Mountain and over Shenandoah Mountain to Virginia by early this afternoon.

Now we're tarping up the Lindy, watching the approaching storm and all the frenzied last-minute preparation and doom-saying. We'll just have to see what happens back there in our little corner of Heaven; talk in Franklin is of a possible 2 feet or more, with drifting, and that kind of accumulation will linger for days, even weeks, in the lower canyon, with the ground frozen by a week of temperatures in the 20s and teens.

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