About Us

The Open Road Project exists to spread kindness and meet the needs of strangers. We travel in a 1979 GMC Vanguard named Lily. These are our stories.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Long and Winding Road

Around 10 am, we were still driving through Circleville, a small town at the base of Spruce Mountain. After deliberating where to park Lily in said "town"--we use that term loosely--we decided to risk her up Forest Road 28, a long and winding road.

Up and up Lily went, navigating the switchbacks and increasingly icy gravel road with conviction. However, after a few miles, the ice slowed us to a point where we decided we could go no farther safely. It was here, from the middle of nowhere, where we would commence our trek, leaving Lily roadside for the time being.

With bags packed, items stowed, and a heading set, we began to venture along the road. At one point, we reached an open pasture. We suddenly found ourselves surrounded by West Virginian Yaks, which looked quite similar to Canadian Cows. As we continued, we essentially parted the Red Sea of Cattle, with the large beasts looking on as though they knew we were from out of town. As an eerie silence fell over the hillside, we came to a fence with a sign that read: "If you can read this, you're in range." It was here where we decided that the road was no longer something we wanted to follow...

We altered our course at this point, heading for the east hills, towards the forest and away from the yaks and fearsome sign.

This hike was not an easy one. We took turns leading the way and breaking through the knee-deep snow. We rested frequently to prevent sweating in the subzero temperatures, and to set down our heavy packs. Our tactics did little good; even in the frigid weather, it was hard not to sweat due to the strenuous physical demands of our uphill climb, plus the bright sun beating down on us from overhead.

We happened upon a cool little hunting cabin and took a jerky break. It was very small, perhaps six feet by six feet, with only a few things inside including two pairs of binoculars, a stool, and a scattering of shell casings. 

Feeling uneasy about this potential act of trespass, we decided to get to the forest ahead as soon as possible, especially after we noticed some movement by one of the farm houses below. Before we had taken even ten steps toward the forest, a large blue truck burst out of the woods, beelining straight for us. Our instincts told us that the inevitable conversation would redefine our stay in West Virginia... for better or for worse.

We waved politely at the vehicle barrelling towards us, hoping for the best. The driver stopped. We stopped. As the window rolled down, the man inside bellowed, "You know this here is private property?" With smiles hiding our uneasiness, we did our best to explain our intentions (foolhardy though they may have been) and pointed at the peak we intended to summit, still embarrassed we were slightly uncertain it was even The Knob.

Mentioning we were Canadians did us well. The driver, along with his wife in the passenger seat, chuckled as we shrugged of his warnings of large snow drifts and mountain lions. We were put at ease as the conversation continued, and were happy to get positive confirmation of our peak. They were somewhat surprised that we didn't have a gun as we headed into the wild, but wished us luck regardless. As we prepared to set off once again, the driver introduced himself: "The name is Greg Bennett. Pleased to meet you guys." With that, the blue truck drove on and left us in its tracks.

Home is where you park it,
The Boys

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