Saturday, December 28, 2019

Spruce Hollow

... the problem isn't the trash by the road... it's the road...
                    
                                                                 - Edward Abbey       

... a lot goin' on in less than an acre of ground...

... for somethin' different we recently took a short hike to check out this long ignored place - first climbed here in 1980 (and occasionally partied here long before that) - hadn't been here since probably 2000... on our recent visit we were a bit flabbergasted by the amount of spray painted graffiti and trash strewn about, so we decided to do a return visit yesterday just to better check out the current conditions...

... hidden in that forest of rhododendron there's a small sandstone cliff wall which extends for an estimated four hundred feet roughly east to west...

... while immediately adjacent Spruce Run tumbles down through the rhododendron canopy to the south...

... the cliff face is obvious at this westernmost exposure immediately adjacent to the hardtop pavement - so close you can easily smash a glass beer bottle off the rock face - it would only be one of probably hundreds of such over the past half century - the close proximity to the adjacent roadway has been the bane of this area since the first tire track... 

... we were told by others that the area was long ago posted as off limits by the current property owner - we didn't see any "immediate" posted signs, so decided to venture on in...

... although it's a literal sea of rhododendron...

... there's always been a pretty decent circumnavigating trail system...

... two perspectives of the lower main cliff wall...

... there's a few decent routes that ascend those roof overhangs and adjacent easy rock faces with some decent gear placements - modern (small) flexible cams would probably be a big advantage - we remember that we played around here with the original fixed stem 'Friend' cams when they first came out and that they had a tendency to "walk" out of those horizontal crack placements - we were also always fearful of falling and breaking a stem (which never happened)... gotta' watch out for loose rock as well... found two old blade pitons up there, too...

... a bit further down the cliff face... the entire wall averages probably 40ft height along it's length...

... before petering out into the hillside...

... nearing the end the trail ascends a small break in the cliff to reach the top...

... there's a small abandoned dump of old tires and junk just beyond the top of the trail that was once accessed via a now overgrown forest road -  has been there forever and had long ago been "learned to be lived with"...

... cliff top trail...

... a few perspectives of the view from the cliff top...

... with a bit of graffiti included...

... we're guessin' that painted target is for the challenge of testing the accuracy for lobbing beer bottles from this spot*...

... we're guessin' also that this nearby trash can was used mostly for haulin' in ammunition as opposed to haulin' out trash...

... not a bad mushroom, though - we can live with that... we're not old curmudgeons yet...

... a wide fissure break in the cliff which forms a short but decent body-width squeeze chimney...

... the entire sandstone outcropping is actually broken into two tiers - the lower main cliff exposure of earlier and an upper tier of which the clifftop trail traverses - this is an image of the tunnel entrance to the upper tier photographed from the western end of the clifftop trail...

... the trail as it descends from the upper clifftop to the upper tier...

...a few perspectives of the upper tier tunnel...

... some heavy graffiti - very colorful - the "artist" really hauled up an assorted color palette... the upper tier has always been the hangout for partygoers... we can understand why - did so ourselves...

... an obligatory marijuana leaf - official herb of 'FayetteNam'...

... we went very light here with the photos of trash... c'mon man - enough with the graffiti and clean up the mess... and they wonder why the landowner tosses their asses out...

... the overhanging upper tier wall - the best quality rock and most physical climbing can be found here... this wall used to be completely overgrown and inaccessible - long ago we spent the better part of a full day here opening it up... some good climbing to be had...

... the earlier squeeze chimney from the ground up...

... although not enamored of the the graffiti we have to admit that we like this toke'n Indian Chief...

... a few selected images from further along the upper tier wall - some tight quarters for photography...

... one or two boulder blocks there as well...

... coolest spot of the whole area - very nice overlook with blanket of thick ground moss for chillin' out...

... exiting the tunnel and upper tier - a decent boulder problem exists just to the left of the tunnel opening...

... vehicle for a sense of scale while viewing down from atop the earlier broken bottle face...

... exiting via the upper tier to main wall access trail...

... and final view from the trail looking east along the main wall...

*Note: We once did a nude photo shoot of a gal, at her request, from this very spot and posed atop that rock (how could we refuse) - still have the photo negatives - was well into Autumn with the fall foliage at it's most brilliant; she around twenty five and at her most brilliant...
(12/29/19: Ha - we were corrected... "29 and stupendous!"... good to hear from ya', Miss T)

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