War Spur in the Snow

January 28, 2008 at 12:43 am 3 comments

This weekend I sequested myself on various home improvement projects.  But last weekend was more adventurous!  I got to go out with Tony Airaghi and his pals in the snow.  We decided to go to the War Spur Trail in the Mountain Lake Wilderness Area.

Our venture started off slowly.  I drove to Eric L’s house where I was supposed to meet Tony.  Every August I get an email about a party at Eric’s house, but I’ve never actually been there and I have never actually met this Eric.  So when I arrived and did not see Tony’s car, I rapped on the front door and had to resort to this confident greeting:

“Uh…. do you know a guy named Tony?”

I had the right Eric and he invited me into his home.  I sat around and avoided awkwardness by engrossing myself in an activity I’m good at– petting dogs.  Meanwhile, Eric paid a bill online and tinkered with a remote control helicopter.  Time passed and still no Tony.   I chatted with Eric and a guy I did know– Paul!  Still no Tony.

Tony’s Pre-Adventure Adventure
So what happened to poor Tony?  He stopped to fill up at a local gas station.  The pump was incredibly slow.  After a few minutes of waiting and still only 0.90 gallons pumped successfully into his car, Tony aborted the sale and then moved over to the next pump.  That pump was just as slow.  Tony left his radio on to pass the time and just stuck it out.  When Tony’s Explorer finally had a full tank of gas, he finished his second sale, returned to his vehicle and discovered… his battery was dead (Tony’s battery had preexisting issues).

Luckily, a nearby patron caught wind of Tony’s dilemma and volunteered to give him a jump.

“Just let me finish filling up.” he said.

So Tony had to wait on the slow pumps AGAIN.

Once he got his vehicle started, Tony realized it probably wasn’t wise to take a car with a sketchy battery out to a remote trailhead.  So he went by NAPA and bought a new battery.  Then he installed the new battery.  And THEN, he was ready to start his journey.

More Waiting
When Tony finally arrived, one would think our departure was near.  Welp, it turns out, Tony wasn’t the only arrival that was highly anticipated.  So was the vodka in Tony’s car! 

One round of Bloody Marys later (and three seperate individuals observing that celery burns more calories to digest than it provides), our crew of five hikers and four dogs were off.

To the Trailhead
Our trailhead journey was uneventful except for one thing.  We passed this jeep along the way:


The driver did an amazing job at making a bad situation worse.  Tony says the driver should have just waited.

“There are rednecks who drive this road all the time just looking for people to tow.”

The hike itself was gorgeous.  Beautiful snow, beautiful virgin hemlocks and my personal favorite– the rhododendrons.  I love how rhododendrons curl up in the winter (five years ago it was Tony who first pointed that out to me).  

Rock at the overlook

My favorite evergreen– rhododendrons in the wild

Jimmie at the overlook

Snow covered branch and the sky

My California Knowledge is Lacking
I have a lot to learn about the Golden State.  As we hiked, I thought, “Ha!  GeekHiker may get a week to celebrate Arbor Day, but I get to hike in the snow!” 

It was only when I got home, I read about his snowshoe outing to Highway 2.  🙂

The Strategic Nature of Switchbacks
One hiker in our party was troubled with a bad back, so he was a lot slower than the rest of us.  At one point we stopped and waited for him to catch up.  Following in the footsteps of accidental discoveries such as LSD and Penicillin, Tony and Eric stumbled upon a previous unknown property of switchbacks:  They make great vantage points for snowball ambushes. 

Eric throws snowballs from the switchback

Drive Home
The drive home was uneventful until we ran into a traffic jam of three vehicles.  The drivers of all the vehicles were standing outside in the snow surveying the situation.  One of the vehicles was stuck on the right side of the road.  Guess what it was!  It was that SAME jeep from before!  The driver had returned with some buddies and they successfully freed the jeep from the mud.  The driver drove down the road about a half of a mile before deciding to make a U-Turn.  It was during that manuever when he managed to get his car stuck AGAIN, this time on the OPPOSITE side of the road.  That’s got to impress the ladies.

More Links
My War Spur Hike Pictures on Flickr
Kevin Myatt’s Article on the War Spur Trail for the Roanoke Times

Entry filed under: Eric L, Hiking, Mountain Lake, Paul E, Tony Airaghi, War Spur.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Aaron  |  January 28, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    It had to have been a Jeep. 😀

  • 2. geekhiker  |  January 28, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Sounds and looks like a fun day. Good plan on replacing that battery!

    Yep, we definitely have the variety in California. It’s been raining here in the basin for a solid week: I can only imagine how much snow there will be in the local mountains to play in! 😀

  • 3. Tinker Cliffs « TGAW  |  February 11, 2008 at 9:59 am

    […] to Tony and say, “I thought you said this girl hiked all the time!”  Also remembering our recent War Spur hike, I didn’t want to give anyone reason to throw snowballs at me from […]


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