Friday, February 29, 2008

Spruce Knob trails could be lost

I found this document on White Grass' site. Really sorry to see this there. Even sorrier to see it at all. Read it all, and not just the highlights. Note that Spruce Knob/Huckleberry, aka Seneca Creek isn't brought up at all. Except, at the end, from Gil.


PARKS: Bush admin supportive of W.Va. wilderness bill (02/27/2008)

Eric Bontrager, E&E Daily reporter

The Bush administration said yesterday it would support a bid by Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) to designate 47,000 acres of national forest in West Virginia as wilderness.

Joel Holtrop, deputy chief of the National Forest System, told the House National Parks Subcommittee that the areas proposed in Rahall's H.R. 5151 contain "a special kind of wilderness" that warrants protection.

The bill would increase the amount of wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest through expansions of the Dolly Sods, Cranberry and Otter Creek wilderness areas as well as protecting four new wilderness areas across the forest.

A wilderness designation generally prohibits motorized activity, timber harvests or natural resource development. The areas are popular destinations for outdoor activities like mountain biking, hunting and hiking.

"There are some people who say a wilderness designation precludes multiple use," said subcommittee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.). "Wilderness is a multiple-use resource."

Potential wilderness areas include "Big Draft," a 5,200-acre parcel near White Sulphur Springs and the Greenbrier Resort; "Cheat Mountain," an 8,000-acre parcel that is home to the Cheat Mountain salamander and West Virginia northern flying squirrel; and a 12,000-acre expansion of the Cranberry Wilderness, which would help create the largest area of nonmotorized recreational opportunity in the state.

A spokeswoman for Rahall, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said the bill reflects the Forest Service recommendations in its 2006 forest management plan. In the plan, the Forest Service recommended four of the areas be studied for wilderness designation, while the other three areas -- Big Draft, Spice Run and the Dolly Sods Expansion -- were made semi-primitive non-motorized areas, which permit low-impact uses like mountain biking.

Holtrop said there are some minor boundary issues for the wilderness areas that may need to be resolved before the bill is enacted, including adjusting for some mapping errors and adding offsets for power lines and other artificial features.

Most of the witnesses representing West Virginia's public, economic, environmental and religious interests lauded the proposal, claiming the wilderness designations will not only preserve the region's natural resources but also bring a boost for the local economy.

"Protecting wilderness helps diversify and stabilize economies by attracting and retaining business, residents and a local workforce in addition to generating travel and tourism, one of the fastest growing sections of West Virginia's economy," said Michael Price of West Virginia AFL-CIO.

Two witnesses, however, expressed concern that the bill does not include other areas for wilderness designation, including Seneca Creek and East Fork of the Greenbrier.

"Like the other special places included in the legislation, these areas represent some of the last truly wild places in the east and they deserve protection," said Gil Willis, owner and operator of the Elk River Inn and Restaurant.

Since 2004, a coalition of hunters, fishers, businesses, lawmakers and religious leaders in the state have supported a citizen initiative calling for more wilderness, but the Rahall bill falls short of the citizens' wilderness proposal, which included more than 143,000 acres in 15 areas.


The year before we did the TransRockies, Steve Viers and I did a 4-day tour from Spruce Knob to Snowshoe and back. Most of the trail we used is now in the 2 areas that Gil suggested become Wilderness. Ironically, that creek there, the East Fork Greenbriar, is so foul that we were warned from many sources not to drink the water. We filtered it, then we added iodine. And we boiled it. Then we heated our ramen noodles with it and filled our camelbacks for the next day. The source of the foulness? A place known as "Pigs Ear", near the head of the creek. A grazing area for cows. Do you think that will change under a Wilderness designation? That singletrack, which to Steve and me looked like it hadn't seen a visitor of any sort in years, would now be posted illegal for biking. It was so overgrown, under the blazes, that it was clear even the wildlife weren't using the trail.

Judy Springs. Is there any trail like this in your neighborhood?

What can be done?
This Bill gets "written up" on April 1st.
The Congresswoman (Capito) whose district Spruce Knob is in, is unhappy about the late insertion of Seneca Creek into the Bill without her knowledge. It was a backdoor deal between Gov. Manchin and the West Virginia Wilderness Coalition. Her office got the phones and e-mails pounded the other day by bikers after Chris got the word out. So much that she's deflected all the calls now to our own district reps (who probably don't care much about this issue). The only hope is that she stands her ground and gets Seneca Creek removed. The support of anyone living in her district is critical. Her district is shown below. If you know anyone who lives in her district, get their help.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

some eye candy from the Quigley-Buchness trip

Since these guys actually spend more time riding and skiing, than messing on a computer, herewith some of their bounty. One of them is getting ready to score big again with a trip to the Adks this weekend. It's looking like all time conditions there right now.

Monday, February 25, 2008

reunion ride in The 'Shed

Pooch organized a Gambrill/Shed ride from Ghana over the past few weeks. He was back in town for a bit, preparing for a soft return later this summer, just before the SM100. Pooch finally missed a Shenandoah last year. No direct flights from Accra to Harrisonburg I guess was his excuse.

here he is on a surface just like the sandy beaches of Ghana

his ride for the day. left the price tag on all day

they call him Quigfoot, coming off a long road trip to Colorado, 15 straight days of skiing which included these quotes: "....powder in Aspen for 5 days straight. Powder in Summit County 3 out of 4 days, and great weather for the Hut trip.... "

"...yo-yo'd the 3K' of vert off the gangadubie all day in a dump, and got tons of freshies everywhere. The tree skiing in Aspen and Snowmass is a lot nicer than I expected. Lots of nicely spaced aspen groves and hardly anybody seems to ski Ajax mountain..."

And treated to the local hookup by expat Virginia mountain bikers now living in Aspen and Salida.

Yes, this post is useless without pictures...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

as good as Whitetail gets?

Between a couple of night shifts for snow duty this week, I had a few hours of daylight to play with. I wanted to do a ride, some snowy ridge trails, maybe on the fixy, but I felt I should ski since I'll be jonesin' in July. It was about 18 degrees this morning, no wind, with a dusting of au naturale and some man-made overnight.

Whitetail *was good*. White, soft, quiet. Except for the hum of the blowers, which I tended to ski as close to as possible for that extra powdah effect.

It also got noisy when the heli whisked the well-healed guests to the top. When did they start heli-skiing?

I ran into my friend and neighbor Tim (of the enduro trail). He was working his regular Thursday shift on the Mountain Safety crew. Tim has had this thing for many years where he tries to ski 1,000,000 vertical feet in the season. Most of that is done at Whitetail. One recent Thursday, he did 44 runs there.

So, I skied with my boots totally unbuckled again. I've done this the past 6 or 7 times out this season. Two of those times were icy boilerplate, and the rest have been pretty soft including that powder day at Blue Knob. I do this sort of thing, like skiing without poles, as training. Going without poles has actually been useful when with Oliver so I can help him onto the lift. Skiing with unbuckled boots was pretty hard the first few runs, then I got used it. I definitely see how it forces you to get up front on the balls of your feet and stay in an aggressive position, something I know I need work on for moguls and trees. It also makes you really feel that back ski. After a few sessions of this and feeling really good with it, I decided to lightly buckle the bottom 2 straps for a run. Man, I felt like Frankenstein. It was work to get up front and stay there. So I went right back to the loose boots, and have stayed that way, yesterday trying the last run with a barely buckled bottom strap. It's making me wonder why I'd ever want to tighten them again, much less ski a heavier stiffer boot?? I'm skiing better loose because it's forcing me to stay out of the back seat, and use all of the ski edges. My transition between turns is smoother, and I'm controlling my speed on the steeper runs easier than before.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

mid-A powdah

clicky to see buttery goodness

Schools were out so I took Oliver and cousin Tiffany to Blue Knob. Was about 15 degrees, blowin' and snowin' all day. The snow was great, the crowds were typical Blue Knob - nil, and it was cool getting the kids out in soft deep snow for their first time. The driving sukked however, snowing on the way, and somehow, raining on the way home even though it was 22 degrees. When we got home to 5 inches of nice dry snow here in Chambersburg, I wished we'd just gone to Whitetail. I thought it would turn to rain earlier here than the always frosty Blue Knob.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tussey Mountain

From pro lensman Nabil Mark (Darius' bro). Looks like it was at about the time that the cold air met up with the warm air yesterday. I didn't move far enough north...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rocky Knob

We can't ride this trail, at least Oliver can ski it.
It seems like ya really gotta work to get any use out of x-c ski gear in this new PA climate. Snowy windows lasting only a few hours.