by John V. Bellantoni, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

1989-1990 Mt. Success, New Hampshire

Mt SuccessIt's raining off and on in flatland as the gang drives north. Dumping the cars off Rt. 2, the group works a wet snow trail up into a low notch that features a beaver pond. Panic starts with some serious rain and impending nightfall, and the chaos is compete when the group realizes that they are way off trail. So a classic half assed camp is hastily pitched on a stream bed. There is plenty of snow at the start of camp to keep the gang off the soaked ground but it's rapidly being worn away by warmer temperatures. Tim's tarp is rigged up in a half-assed bogus configuration that catches rain and then evenly distributes it across the campers sleeping bags. All four wake up with well soaked equipment. When the rain breaks the next day, the decision is to stay put for a day and dry out. It doesn't take long before JB, and the crew, have totally terra-form thrashed the woods and a huge fire is going in a nice looking log camp. Over the blazing fire JB had his snow parka roped up good distance above drying out, kind of looking like it was a pig on a spit. Soon the jacket started "smokin' and burning" according to Tim, and Mark and Fife quickly joined in lambasting JB for a "very, very unsurvival like" snow parka burning. JB gets away with it though when just before the days hike, he pulls out 4" wide green nylon repair tape and patches the parka with a big upside down backwards L looking repair job. That tape held for the length of the trip and in fact was still there holding well when JB retired the parka years later. That second night it's Tim Mark and Fife under the still improperly set up tarp, while JB bails to his survival tent after swearing he would never sleep under a Novak rigged with Fife assisted shelter again.

HAE team

Morning arrives. After yesterdays day hike without packs to figure out the topography, the group is ready to bushwack up to the AT. However two things are in the way. One is Fife's camp sprawl, which was looking like a bomb had exploded in an REI store.

The other matter was JB's " He Man Leather Gloves." Over the past few years JB's winter survival camping was increasingly leaning toward a "thrash now, and ask questions later" style. His pack carried quite an assortment of wood tools, including at one point no less than 3 saws, a brush axe, the thwam-thwacker, and several pairs of leather gloves. On this trip he had finally gone overboard in carrying the most enormous pair of leather gloves. Built of sturdy leather with thick fuzzy yellow foam inside, this pair protected the user nearly up to the elbow. With these JB was able to blast away terra forming the woods indiscriminately, clear cutting all dead wood and logs within easy walking distance of the camp. But now they were wet and heavy and the peanut gallery was out in full force. Novak didn't like all the smoke and mess from huge open pit fires and Fife was getting tired of working up a huge sweat lumbering. "Ya get way too wet and sweaty cutting and thrashing on all that firewood" was his attitude and the current 20ish or so warm weather certainly was not doing anything to remind him of a fire's survival power, or that he was conveniently forgetting that he also needed the stupid ass fire to warm up his leather boots in the morning. So there on the slopes of Mt. Success, the He Man Leather Gloves, after much lamenting, but only for a micro-second, were tossed to rest into a patch of hobble bush.

"Hey white trash is white trash" JB said in defense to a peanut gallery suddenly turned ultra environmentally correct for the convenience of the situation. " I don't know about you peckerheads, but I certainly reserve my right to piss and shit all over the woods and dump all amounts of refrigerators, old cars, sofas and tons of trash, and yes leather gloves, in the woods any time I've been a drinking" he continued.

Confronted with a steady grade, the four made slow progress upward, the AT finally was discovered up somewhere between Mt. Success and Success Pond Shelter. After lunch they moved toward Success Pond Shelter. Snow mixed with water made for slow hard shoeing and the group arrived at dusk. That night it was Tim, JB and Mark sitting around putting on a buzz while Fife was incessantly shoveling snow around while putting on a buzz. No one could figure out why Fife was shoveling a whole bunch of snow from one spot in the middle of nowhere just over to another spot in the middle of nowhere. "Look I'm from Florida and have never seen snow so I gotta shovel it" was Fife's reply, but no one seemed to understand it after the day's difficult hike and one by one they retired to the sounds of shoveling.

The next day they team does a day hike up to a remote beaver pond. The day after that they sit around and watch the thermometer creep up to 32 degrees. That's way too warm for these guys. In the morning there is talk of bailing, even though the trip still has several more days scheduled. JB has a new girl friend, and is vocal in wanting to leave early. "I'd rather get some beaver than stand around and watch ice melt with a bunch of trash," was his logic. With temperatures now reaching almost 40 degrees at lunchtime, the guys second the motion. They pack up and leave, totally disgusted with the mild weather.

Copyright 1999 John Bellantoni and HAE