Write-up: Lu Blanchard
Leaders: Roger Felske, Lu Blanchard
Co-Leader: Dick Blanchard
High Peaks Weekend started unlike any other. Habitually late Tom Smith was already there when we arrived at 1:30pm! We were incredulous that he arrived so early, until we realized he was under the good influence of Darlene and Eric with whom he caravaned. What other surprises would this weekend hold?
The rest of the campers trickled in from about 2:00 PM on, set up their tents and then converged on the tent cabin area to help with setting up the main activity space. With military precision, Dick marshaled the troops and the main canopy was erected, staked and tied down in anticipation of the upcoming storms. The rest of the set-up went as quickly, and the kitchen area took shape with the addition of a new dish washing station purchased by Roger and a new club-owned grill/stove. Mary Pat organized the plastic, paperware, utensils and tables while others covered the tables and in no time we were ready for the evening meal and relaxed a bit by the fire.
We cooked dinner as the sky darkened and just as we were finishing up the heavens let loose a deluge. Everyone scrambled for the canopy- luckily we had attached the side panels- and waited out the storm. It let up after a while and we again circled the campfire and determined who was doing what hike on Saturday. With the weather report predicting rain in the morning, no one wanted to leave too early. During this interim, we also participated in the Great Carrot Cake Contest and, as expected, Grace’s cake was deemed the best! Condolences were given to the loser-who shall remain nameless to protect his wounded pride- and we all suggested next year he make something where he has a chance to win. We sat outside for a bit more until thunder announced a new storm and everyone once again scattered to their tents, trailers or beds. Dick and I left for the Prague Inn since I had been nursing a bad back and couldn’t imagine sleeping in a tent – or even bending over to open one!
When we returned in the morning the next surprise was made known to us. Even though the canopy was secured with 5 pegs on each side and 2 ropes over the top, the wind picked it up and moved it about 3 feet during the storm! In doing so, it knocked over the table with the drawers-which contained supplies of all sorts, paper goods and utensils throwing them all over the ground! Sharon and Bill had been picking them up out of the floating wood chips and trying to put things back in order for the past hour or so! The rain also had made the whole area a swamp. Since ADK was making renovations and changing the campground layout they spread wood chips on our site.The wood chips created a dam of sorts and so the area was in about 2 inches of water with floating chips and mud and as each passing wave of rain came by the swamp expanded. We decided the storm was so bad because the “Sunshine Girls.” Lois and Deb were without their third partner, Gail, who had to cancel due to her husband’s illness. May we always have the triad in the future! However, despite it all, our newly acquired automatic Mr. Coffee** had brewed the heavenly nectar for which we all were very grateful.
Donna and Geoff donned rain gear, covered their packs and left for Tabletop at 8:00 AM sharp.Now that’s the Tramp spirit! Some left for the Noon Mark diner in Keene to have breakfast and wait out the storm. The rest hemmed and hawed about leaving now or waiting to see if the forecast was right that the rain would stop soon. Tom Smith had a secret (which just about everyone knew) – he was planning on finishing the ADK 46 High Peaks after climbing Cascade and Porter this weekend. However, he didn’t want to go if it was raining – what a sissy :-))- so was putting it off while the rest of us were encouraging him to go for it. Sharon and Amanda had come prepared with a banner and cupcakes in ADK 46er colors and really wanted him to finish on Saturday so we could celebrate! Finally around 9:00 AM people left for Rocky Falls, Marcy Dam and another small group of Dan, Kathy and Nancy for Tabletop. The day did clear and, upon returning from the Rocky Falls hike, Darlene convinced Tom to just go for Cascade and Porter with her. They left and we all silently thanked her for convincing him to do it. While they were gone,Tom Schenck, Amanda and Sharon set about trying to “drain the swamp” and succeeded in clearing most of the standing water. Tom and Pat Malin then set about carrying wood chips from a pile left over from construction to dump into the remaining puddles and on the muddy paths so, by the time everyone returned, the site was in much better shape. Donna went to town to dry sleeping gear that got wet when a river ran through her site. When Tom and Darlene returned he was greeted with applause and pretended to be embarrassed by all the accolades. He was surprised that we all knew about his “non-goal” to finish the peaks.
The night was spent around the campfire and many stories were told of HPs past and the exploits of Tramps both on and off the trails. I understand the tale-telling by Tom Smith continued into the night with the occupants of one of the tent cabins finally throwing shoes at him to make him go to bed!
Sunday dawned without rain, but very cool, windy and overcast. Lois, Tom Smith and Grace took over the pancake and bacon cooking chores while Lu kept them supplied with batter. We were a little hesitant to eat Tom’s since he stated he wasn’t a very good cook and didn’t really know what he was doing, but Lu volunteered to be the guinea pig and try the first one. After not choking or collapsing everyone else dove in.Tom, they were very good- nicely done and crispy around the edges. Mary Pat made her delicious scrambled eggs with cheese. So many cooks helped I lost track, but they didn’t spoil the soup, it all tasted great. Soon all were fed. Then the task of breaking camp began and with many hands helping it was accomplished in record time.
The weekend is always fun with good food, good hikes, good friends and mostly good weather. Many thanks go out to all who helped make it a success. If it weren’t for everyone pitching in, the organizers would be overwhelmed, but thankfully, Tramps subscribe to the adage, “Many hands make light work” and so it was.
This was Roger Felske’s 16th year of organizing the HP Weekend and he has done a wonderful job throughout the years. It has grown from a small gathering of 10-15 Tramps to one of 35-45 Tramps. With it came growing concerns and needs but Roger made sure everything ran smoothly. (If you want to learn more about the transformation read the 2015 History Book.) Mary Pat added organization with bins and drawers all labeled and stocked. As of this year, Roger has stepped down as leader and passed the job to Dick and Lu Blanchard who have been co-chairs for the last few years. It was also decided that HP has become so big it needs a committee, so Geoff and Donna Horan accepted the job as co-chairs and we will be adding at least 2 more members to the committee. We all can’t thank Roger enough for his stewardship through these past 16 years and hope he still will grace us with his presence at the event!
**Bill Higgerson, “Mr. Coffee”, started coming to HP about 3 years ago, hence he is newly-acquired. He makes the coffee with scientific precision and it is marvelous to know it will be greeting you when you stagger in with sleep dust still in your eyes!
Postscript by Mary Pat Connors
A group of us waited out the weather and had a leisurely Saturday morning at camp.
We were later joined by some of those who hiked in the morning to Marcy Dam and then drove toward Whiteface Mountain to a trailhead heading to Whiteface Landing.
This is a beautiful 5-mile hike to the northeast tip of Lake Placid. We hiked through both private and state lands, heavily wooded forest and streams. There was a conveniently located wooden dock at water’s edge, where we could sunbathe, rest and snack.
A delightfully easy-going hike.