East River Mountain

I don’t recall the specifics, but we had a 4 day weekend. Thursday through Sunday. Lot’s of people who didn’t normally “Swoop” on the weekends, were “Swooping” this weekend. (“Swooping” – jumping in the car the moment you get off work and driving like a madman ‘home’ – wherever that may be – spend a day with your family – then speed back to the base before roll call on Monday morning)

A friend was headed up through Virginia/West Virginia. Another buddy and I arranged to get dropped off at East River Mountain, AND picked upon the way home. What does a bored Marine do on a 4 day weekend? Head for some mountain to camp out, of course!

We also took along some fishing gear. It WAS called East RIVER Mountain. We never did see any water and I we still have no idea where East River is.

We got dropped off at the top of the mountain, at a small parking area. There were no buildings, no shelter, just a street light over this parking area. A quick recon showed that there was quite a drop-off in front of us, so we followed the edge of the cliff back into the woods.

There were clumps of bushes here and there, but mostly the undergrowth was just low grass. Scattered around were huge boulders and a smattering of trees. It was like a giant playground!

As we continued to explore along the edge of the cliffs we encountered a “small” crack, about 3 feet across, that went from the cliff on our left into the dense bushes about 4 feet from the edge on our right. It was just a little too big to just step across, but a short hop was no big deal.

Further down we encountered a larger crack, in open ground. We decided to climb down the crack. The crack descended about 20 feet where it intersected with a ledge. The ledge was flat across its base. It ranged from nothing on both ends to 4-5 feet wide at the center and about 20 feet long. The back wall of the ledge angled from the back of the ledge to the front of the ceiling. You could just stand up at its highest point.

We had found our Campsite! I set my mummy bag up at the far end, with the feet facing the narrowing end of the ledge. There was JUST enough room for me to slide into the bag from the top. Now, if I was to roll over in my sleep, it was a good 40-60 feet straight down.

With our camp set we were free to explore at will, and explore we did. We roamed all over that mountain. Scrambling over rocks and boulders, climbing various cliff faces, and just wandering all over the place.

I recall getting adventurous and finally attempting a sheer face. Maybe now would be a good time to make sure you know we had no climbing gear. No ropes, no harnesses, no helmets, I am willing to bet heavily that we were wearing our combat boots. We wore them everywhere else.

I had no problem with the lower face, but it seemed that the higher I got, the harder it was to climb it. Near the top, with every step up, the closer it seemed I had to hug the face. The harder it was to hang on, the more treacherous the footing. It REALLY became a test! When I finally crawled over the lip I was VERY HAPPY. I am going to LIVE! When I rolled over to take a look back over the edge, to see this wall I had scaled from the top, it immediately became obvious WHY the top had been harder. The top of the cliff stuck out further from the face than the bottom! If I dropped a rock, it would have landed a foot or two from the face of the cliff at the bottom! I decided I had climbed my best, and quit while I was ahead.

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