Our friend Kim was visiting, and we decided it would be appropriate to show her just how warped this pastime really is. We took her to the vicinity of Penn Roosevelt Park and showed her a couple of the nicer fragments of RoW, including the two alternate routes NE out of Stone Gap and the hillside track on Broad Mountain in Stone Gap. She actually seemed fairly interested, proving she’s a wacko too!
We then decided to really test her mettle on this rather humid day by looking for some new RoW. We took Crowfield Rd into Triester Valley. Heading off to the south of the road, we began looking for the RoW which we believe had to come through Smith Gap from previously-surveyed RoW found along Underwood Trail.
We crashed through brush. We sweated. Kim thought she had something. I thought I had something. Vince thought he had something. We crashed through brush. We sweated.
Let’s just say that the highlight of the afternoon was seeing a large hawk sitting in a tree at eye level about 10 feet from us. Seemed a little dazed and confused. Probably ate a defective mouse.
We commend Kim’s patience with our insanity! Net mileage: ZERO.
Despite hot and humid conditions, we decided to check out the stretch of RoW I had discovered near Underwood Trail and Crowfield Rd.
We got on the RoW behind Underwood camp and proceeded WSW, basically paralleling Crowfield Rd. A lot of this is pretty nice rock RoW, and we found clinkers at some evident watering spots.
Eventually the RoW enters a former clearcut which just fundamentally sucks. Lots of thick undergrowth. It appears one area must have had a substantial trestle to cross a large wash. In the most clear of these areas there are suggestions of multiple RoWs, one of which could be the slight hook to the south shown on Kline’s map. Note: The elevation (1700 feet) shown by Kline for this south terminus seems entirely bogus, a situation we have seen with his map in other areas.
Eventually we ended up at the familiar Twin Springs camp, at the east end of a previously-admired deer control area (DCA). Since the RoW seems to head straight into the DCA, and the previously-surveyed RoW on the west side seemed to head straight into the DCA on the same bearing, it seems reasonable to conclude that the RoW goes through it and the railroad thus paralleled Crowfield Rd its entire length. That would mean Kline’s map is rather defective in this area, since it shows no connection between the ascent out of Penn Roosevelt Park and this Sand Mountain branch. Oops.
We hiked back along Crowfield Rd, cursing those fricking deer flies. We are not deer. Go away.
Picking up the RoW at Underwood Camp again, we proceeded NE. Again, pretty nice RoW for some distance, with some pleasant cuts and fills. At points the RoW is clearly visible from the paralleling Underwood Trail. After a bit we reached the brand new DCA (let’s just shoot all the deer and leave the woods unfenced, ok?) where I had quit before. With some effort, we manage to continue following RoW through this area, although recent logging has done substantial damage. We theorized about the practicality of getting these logging railroads onto the National Register…
On the other side of the DCAs (there are two), things got ugly. We entered a “ferns from hell” zone. Despite our desire to find the large horseshoe shown by Kline, we eventually called it quits and found a series of meandering trails which took us back onto Underwood Trail, which we followed back to the truck (aka deer fly exclusion zone).
The day yielded some very nice mileage, mostly not shown on Kline’s map. It’s just too bad we couldn’t find that darn horseshoe.