E. River Mtn 2 – Bluefield, West Virginia

By Saturday we were ready for some “civilization”. Bluefield, West Virginia lay at the bottom of East River Mountain. We wondered what people in Bluefield DID on a Saturday night.

We started off in the afternoon, so as to be off the mountain before dark. We scaled down the cliff face and started off across the sloping ground towards town at the bottom.

The slope was just a little too steep to walk down comfortably. There were no bushes here, just open meadows dotted with trees. Before long we were running down the slopes, arms outstretched for balance, looking and feeling like a child playing airplane. Plunging headlong down the slope, “banking” to avoid trees, it almost felt like you could take flight.

Until you make that mis-step! Although tumbling didn’t seem to produce any lasting effects either. I remember we were quite exhausted and out of breath when we reached the edge of town, and having a blast!

We got some junk food and drinks and inquired about nightlife. Everyone told us to go to the dance. I think it was at a legion hall, but it had a basketball court and bleachers. The whole town was represented there; young, old, country, rockers. That band played everything! When I saw a cop approaching a group of stoners, I gave my buddy the elbow. Watch this! The cop walked up, put his hand on one of the boys shoulders, and they talked for a bit. Then he wandered off to talk to others at the dance. It was a strange environment.

We also learned at the dance that everyone goes to the Bus Station after the dance. Do what???? We HAD to go to the Bus Station to witness this. The Bus Station was the only restaurant that was open that late. It was more of a diner type restaurant that served as a Bus Station, but they did serve good tasting food!

We caught a ride back up the mountain, again getting off at the parking area. The guy thought we were nuts, heading off into the darkness.

Our oversight was immediately obvious. We had forgotten to bring a flashlight. No problem, we are Marines! Hooah! I took the lead and discovered that the bare rock at the top of the cliff was just a little lighter than the pure blackness of the drop-off. So it was pretty easy to tell where the EDGE was.

The faint lightness of the rock ended abruptly at that 3 foot break. I knew what it was, we had crossed it many times, in the light. I mentally calculated where the edge of the cliff was, and where it would be on the other side. I knew the bare rocks were only about 4 feet wide and that there were bushes to my right. I figured I would “hop” to the right, ending up in the bushes if I made a mistake, rather than the sheer drop to my left.

I explain what I am doing, so my buddy is standing still and listening. I take a breath and jump! The rock isn’t where it is supposed to be, and I begin to fall! I come to a sudden stop as I crash into debris. I freeze. I am unhurt, but I have no idea where I am. I am afraid to move.

“MOE!” – my buddy screams down into the darkness. His voice is surprisingly close. I answer him “I’m right here”. The closeness of my reply scares the crap out of him and he nearly falls down. We both break out laughing. Turns out that JUST at the edge of the bushes was a hole we had not noticed. It was about 4 feet across and 4 feet deep, filled with leaves and brush

So all my calculations HAD been correct. I just didn’t know about the hole. Let me tell you in THAT situation, when you are expecting ground to be there and its NOT, 4 feet is a LONG way down! Especially in the dark!

We had no more problems getting to our camp. We enjoyed one more night on the face of that mountain. The next morning we returned the ledge to it’s pristine state, and caught our ride home.

Yet another great adventure.

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