Ascent of Spruce Knob on 2013-04-19

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Friday, April 19, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Spruce Knob
    Location:USA-West Virginia
    Elevation:4861 ft / 1481 m

Ascent Trip Report

Once again, I planned for days how to bag this summit without doing a drive up. I detest drive up peakbagging. Unfortunately, I was cursed on the only day I could bag the peak with a cold front moving through the region with an all day of high rain, strong winds and cold moving in. I was further delayed by a large truck that burst into flames in the middle of the highway on the way to Elkins. Between my wrong turn, the storm, and the truck fire delay, I arrived at my designated TH late and began my hike at 3:50 PM in a white out!

Using the turnoff of the two forest roads 112 and 515 at Bench Mark 3890 on the west side of the mountain, I decided to hike up the road, take a few bushwhacks throught the woods to cut off road hiking mileage at the hairpins where I could safely and quickly keep my bearings without using a compass. I also found some open country here and there and places where the deciduous woods had not leafed out yet and I could see easily through the understory. Nearing the summit I used the trails that circle the summit and work down the SW shoulder and to the road.

The rain was and wind was stiff and cold, so as you would imagine, I was the only fool on the entire moutain that day. I dressed in full rain gear, but still the cold rain continued to work at my face and hands and I was mindful at all times how far the car was away. There were no views - just a white out. But as alwaays, being alone on a mountain beats listening to the constant media attention to everything going wrong in the world (on the way up the radio constantly reproted the latest of the Boston Marathon Bombers, North Korea rattling its sabler, and the Texas fertilizer blast!) Clearly, a day in the cold rain climbing a high point is a better day than dealing with the reality in the "civilized" world!

The tower is taller than you might expect and I am sure it would afford nice views on a better day. My only treat for the day was the odd, open-cleared shoulder just SW of the tower. These large boulders are staggered around the shoulder like they were deliberately put there making me think of stonehenge and one boulder has eroded to the shape of an animal in profile. Even with the bad weather, this was an interesting place to explore. Saw lots of deer and woodchucks.

On the way back I checked out nearby Nelson Rock, Judy Rock and the Seneca Rocks. The Seneca Rock formation at the National Forest Center at SR 33 and Sececa Rocks Junction is a very unique formation for the appalachia area and when I have more time - I will come back to explore that.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1001 ft / 304 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1001 ft / 305 m
    Round-Trip Distance:6 mi / 9.7 km
    Grade/Class:1, 1+, 2
    Quality:4 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Weather:Raining, Cool, Windy, Whiteout/Fog
55F down to 45F cold front moved through
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:971 ft / 295 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:road, trails, and bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Jtn of FS Roads 112 and 515 at BM  3890 ft / 1185 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1001 ft / 305 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 971 ft / 296 m; Extra: 30 ft / 9m
    Gain on way out:30 ft / 9 m
    Distance:3 mi / 4.8 km
    Route:road, trails, and bushwhack
    End Trailhead:Jtn of FS Roads 112 and 515 at BM  3890 ft / 1185 m

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