Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Geminids and snowflakes..

Each is unique... cold, flashes of brilliance.

I find myself wandering up the leafless mountainside, wrapped in the dark of winters night. I'm hoping for a break in the cloud cover and snow showers. The Geminids are always my favorite.. they fill the air with as many as 100 shooting stars per hour! That's a lot of wishes!

It's a bit after 3.00am... what am I thinking??

There is a new dusting of snow swirling around my feet as I pick my way around the rocks, my headlamp all the brighter by the ice-filled air's reflection.
The wind is sturdy.. the temperature before leaving the house was a bit south of 12.. and still heading down
The anticipation grows as I think back to all the past meteor showers..so many!
.. being all snuggled down in sleeping bags with my family all around, keeping our field of vision as broad as possible to not miss a single flash; driving down a mountain road and pulling off to the side so as to view the show without driving off a cliff; night hiking in a high meadow in West Virginia with folks who had NEVER seen a shooting star (!)
... and then sitting on a bluff above Maine tidewater with friends, watching the always- good, Perseids..

In a really good meteor shower, there comes a point where, after a few good wishes you run out of things to wish for, really!... unconsciously then, I start counting my blessings.
Tonight, though, I'm alone and the sky is a cottony-black and filled with drifting and blowing snow.. an extended shower? or the real deal?

Regardless, I'll have to find satisfaction in my memories and in the streaking white snow.. I think I'll head back and kick up the fire.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Shameless Plug.. the PERFECT Gift!

For 18 years as an "official business", (but in reality, for several lifetimes) the staff here at Teamlink /Shenandoah Mountain Guides, has been having fun in the mountains.
And not just having fun, but perfecting the methods to have fun in unforgettable ways that truly celebrate life fully lived in the mountains...
and most especially, how we can share that adventure experience w
ith others.

Mellow wildflower hikes,

Climbing the
mountainsides in search of old communities and waterfalls,

Scaling the shear granite cliffs of Old Rag,

Slipping, slidi
ng and rappelling our way down the area's more notable mountain streams and canyons,

Backpacking - immersed in high mountains, clear streams and nights under the stars...

It's all just so good.

This year for the holidays, instead of another "thing" that will be soon discarded or forgotten or broken, consider giving an experience in mountain adventure...

GUARANTEED to last a lifetime!
Call us or e-mail us about a GIFT OF ADVENTURE... 866.455.8672
or..adventure@teamlinkinc.com / mtnjedi@gmail.com

Sunday, November 7, 2010

.. waiting for our turn with the snow ..

While out in the Potomac Highlands, just to our west, the snow is falling and beginning to fill in all the up-slope nooks and crannies, here in the Blue Ridge we're still enjoying cold, but dry, late Fall conditions... being in the snow shadow of the Alleghenies.
Which means that it is still fantastic weather for getting out and about in the mountains! With late color splashes that can only be imagined in a very psychedelic dream... we are continuing to enjoy climbing, hiking and backpacking.

.. and with the Appalachian Trail just out our backdoor, it gives us a particularly good classroom for backpacking.

This past weekend we held a class on backpacking and at the same time taught and certified three new Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainers!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Gone???? or Just starting???

When the nights are full on events of wind roaring down the mountain, whirling snowflakes and leaves in tow, you just somehow know that the dawn will not bring thoughts of swimming in a mountain pool... well, not the first thought anyway... For the moment you're quite content to be snuggled under the quilts with the comforting crackle of a fire in the stove.

But for me, it does mean the best season for exploring the mountains is here! The views are more expansive (sans leaves), all the critters that give you good reason not to poke around carelessly way off trail are in their hibernaculae, and the spring water is particularly sweet and cool!

Long trail runs, hikes to remote summits, backpacking through the remaining kaleidoscopic colors will all lead, in time, to snow filled hollows, backcountry skiing, the unforgettable sting of wind-whipped ice pellets on a bare cheek and the amazing sculpted frozen chandeliers on Shenandoah's many waterfalls.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

So... where did summer go?

..just like that, it got too cool for mountain swimming, the days too short for epic backcountry hikes... and the nights, well they just got perfect for sleeping... with the windows thrown wide open! Man, I live for Fall in the mountains! (and winter ... and spring.... and summer!)

Often, in Shenandoah this time of year, we see a lot of leaf-peepers... who actually enjoy viewing the world from behind the windshield of an automobile.. we just scratch our heads and don't even try to figure out why..

Especially when this time of year is unforgettably perfect for outdoor adventuring.. crystal blue skies, frosty evenings, warm, golden days.

We've had a lot of climbers and hikers.. and with the recent rains, we've even had paddlers! (Most often you'll find our current postings on either the Shenandoah Mountain Guides blog or the Shenandoah Mountain Guides Face Book page... )
This is also the time we move back into our "classroom mode" teaching groups from universities and colleges, developing the professional skills of other outdoor - based organizations, and developing and training good stewards (of all ages) of our amazing natural resources.

For the past 4 years, we have had the distinct honor of being a key (and founding) organization and partner with the National Park service in the development of the Old Rag Mountain Steward program.. making a real and lasting change in the visitor experience on Old Rag mountain in VA.

So, more often than not, we're not around the office.. but that doesn't mean we don't want to hear from you.. leave a message.. send an e-mail... come see us! Your world will never look the same!

.. and you'll wonder why you waited so long...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

United Nations... Shenandoah Style

With representatives from Chile, Puerto Rico, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, France, Israel, Poland, Lithuania, India,South Africa, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the U.K., Spain (and about 15 other nations) seeing the best of Shenandoah with us this year, we cannot help but note the universal appeal and reaction to a back country swimmin' hole on a hot day...
.. kids, adults, rich, poor, yellow, black, white, brown... it just doesn't matter.
It's ALL good.

Perhaps if the UN were to re-locate to our neck of the woods we'd make a lot of progress toward world peace, social and environmental justice and mutual respect.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Reading

I have an 18 hour turn around and a few moments for some summer reading...
Both Southern Living (their 5th article on us) and Blue Ridge Outdoors (the latest of several articles) provided very nice articles on some of our activities ..
check 'em out!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Flying thru summer..

When the full of summer hits, it quickly becomes an all-hands evolution. ..and this summer has been especially full. Since mid-May there have only been a few hours when anyone was in the office, much less had the opportunity to update this blog... Guiding, teaching, providing adventure programs for camps, working with the young people we regularly serve, adult groups... together, it has been full.. and now we have a bit of a lull before the end of summer crunch... So, in the interest of updating you on our activities.. here is a collection of images... (more can be found on our Shenandoah Mountain Guides Facebook page)

For some of the folks we work with, never having seen a mountain sunset has them trying to find ways to grasp the whole idea... such a big event, yet small enough to hold in two hands... and in a memory forever.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Settling into the summertime pace..

Ready or not our summer season is upon us! ... and all that goes with that! mountain hikes! secret swimming holes.. deep blue sky, cool breezes, windswept summits, sun-warmed rocks... the perfect antidote to a snowy and cold winter!

Something (kind of) new for this year is the opportunity to join us for float trips on Maryland's Monocacy River. A "State Scenic River", the Monocacy is visible at a few road crossings, but quickly leaves civilization behind... Its banks are full of wildflowers and the air is full of birds!

As the FaceBook (The Monocacy River Canoeing Company) page says: "Specializing in low impact, gentle adventures in canoeing and floating, for families and groups on the Monocacy (Scenic) River"

An afternoon on the river is a perfect outlet for a group of friends wanting to socialize while floating on a summer afternoon.. It's ideal for a family, young or old who don't want to deal with hustle and bustle, but instead want to enjoy nature and each other on their own time..

Wild and high to mild and wet.. Visit us this summer! You, and your family and friends will be very glad you did!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

"That time of year"

The transition is always killer.. when we shift from winter to full bore summer programming. It comes on like a tidal wave and there is no slowing it down..
One minute we're enjoying the last of the snow and the next we're frantically running from garden to river to rocks to trail ... shake and repeat. Courses and classes fill, overfill, get canceled, get rescheduled and get added.
It's also the time when we fall behind in our blog-keeping. Something has to go...

Most recently we returned from helping teach the National Park Service's Eastern High Angle Technical Rescue class in the Blue Ridge of North Carolina... and have been guiding hiking and climbing nonstop since returning... (For those of you with Facebook access, we are keeping a full profile under Shenandoah Mountain Guides)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Winter's End Game

When I was growing up in rural Rappahannock County VA in the 1970's, there was very little to do beyond farm work, skiing, climbing, hiking and canoeing. High school sports were limited to basketball and baseball. In 1970, my 8th grade year, (high school was grades 8-12) two new teachers from some far away place introduced two new sports: cross country and track.
As it turned out, those were perfect sports for a school with lots of hilly farm fields and a bunch of "hollow boys" (as in, from up in the hollows) and notably, no track.

In the first five years of Rappahannock County cross country, the school not only won the state championship every year, they won it with a perfect score of 15 (the first five runners were all from RCHS). And if that weren't enough, the "trackless track team" was district and regional champs and state runners up.

Many of the members of those early teams were lucky enough to go on to be intercollegiate competitors... several of us continued to run many years past college. .. even to today.

In the 40 years since that first year, I've often reflected on what it was that made those years, those teams, so special.. indeed, remarkable. Of course, the biggest part is pure heart. Those teams were nothing but heart. But there was more.
The pure joy of running thru the mountains regardless the weather.. the camaraderie.. the innocence of not ever knowing failure (or at least not acknowledging it)... and on those long runs, the realization that if you were hurting, so was everyone else... and that the one who could deal with the most discomfort would win.
.. and more often than not the one in front got great refreshment from a fresh mountain wind on his face and the first drink of ice cold spring water...
The magic of those 5 years has never been forgotten.

Over the years since, there have been many occasions and challenges where quitting would end the discomfort of the moment... but that would be breaking the faith with my teammates from all those years ago... and in my heart I'd never savor the fresh mountain breeze the same.

This year has been a very long winter in a tough economy. We have seen several of our good friends and business partners close their doors... a real loss to the community... and here we are, entering our 18th season.

Our snowbanks are quickly eroding in the warm rains, the 2010 guiding season is upon us, and we've just finished boiling maple sap for the year...
And not so coincidentally I think, that sweet treat, also, only comes at the end of winter..

Yes, I think it's almost Spring!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mountainbike Mecca - Nordic Nirvana

Normally this blog is all about the land around Shenandoah National Park.. a region of spectacular high mountains and waterfalls.. and our spiritual home..
But I want to take you to another very special spot a little to the north... a place that few know about... and most can't believe exists.

In north central Maryland lies a low range of mountains, a branch of the northern Blue Ridge, known as the Catoctins.. famous mostly for being the home of Camp David, the presidential retreat. In fact,"mountains" may be stretching it a bit.. they are more like a rolling 2200' plateau. The entire region is laced and crisscrossed by trout streams, old trails and roads, forests and mountaintop meadows... the majority of which is public land, but unlike Shenandoah, open to the public for recreation, from hunting and fishing to mountainbiking, rock climbing and skiing... and not just a few, but miles upon miles upon miles of single track, trail and roadgrades.. particularly the areas known as the Frederick Watershed and Gambrill State Park..

During mountain biking seasons, it is the norm to find cars from no less than 5 states.. all coming to test the rocky and steep singletrack..

Winter however is the best kept secret... high enough to catch and hold snow.. and accessible enough to, well, access... "the Watershed" is an amazing winter playground... and with a local population that is predominately focused on urban pleasures and pursuits.. a recreational "nord" can be assured of pretty much having the whole place to him/herself. Despite the lack of snow in the lowlands to the East... the Catoctins are virtual islands in the sky (ok, that may be stretching it a bit!) .. In every year, sufficient snow can be found for cross country skiing.

It's always been amazing to me that folks will drive to WV, Garrett Co, or SWPA for snowplay, when it's right in their backyards... for free. What's even more amazing to me, is that the vast majority of the residents of Frederick County are ignorant of the recreation to be had out their backdoor..."Ski??? hike??? bike???? no thanks... can someone point me to the mall?"

Monday, March 1, 2010

"Pay the man..."

Everything worthwhile, it seems, comes with a price.. For many folks that may be an admission ticket, or maintaining the "right" social status or driving the "right" kind of car or wearing the "right" clothes... for some it's just talking the "right" talk..
Often if you try to find adventure on those terms.. you will meet with rejection and disappointment.

In our world,frequently the admission comes in the form of a tough approach... a steep brushy mountain, deep and steep snow, a long flatwater paddle... icy, cold, windy and wet conditions.... the admission price paid for great adventure.
But once that admission price is paid... then all we have to do is enjoy the perfection of the experience.

We used to have t-shirts that read :"If it's not hard to do, it's hardly worth doing".. my how true that is..
Earn your turns..(one of my favorite sayings) Today I went out for a short ski... but the higher I got, the better the snow got.. by the time I topped out the snow was PERFECTO... which made for sweet turns on the descent.. which took me about a dozen runs before I was sated...

But it's close to spring, which means the snow will not be here much longer.. we're on borrowed time. But it also means that the door is opening on a big wide world of mountain fun...

If you're looking for really good adventure this year, call us... it'll be so good, the admission will soon be forgotten!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A snowy backcountry weekend..

It just doesn't get a whole lot better... deep snow, bright sun, cold nights, cool days, big mountains...
Great times to learn how to enjoy, REALLY enjoy the pleasures of being in the deep Blue Ridge backcountry.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A new feather on the Thunderbird..

With real winter in place for a while, we took the opportunity to take advantage of conditions. Chad

and Jeremy put up a bunch of first ascents on amazing ice, hours of shinny were played, and a lot of preparations were being made for a tremendous 2010 season..