Green Ridge State Forest Volunteer Weekend

Members of CORE participated in the second, we’ll call it the fall, volunteer weekend on Green Ridge State Forest (GRSF). I arranged another work project with GRSF Manager Mark Beals and we put a plan together to help clear brush overtaking some roads.

I told you the tent was as big as a mansion, that thing even had an indoor pool. I think Fred is in the market for a new tent.

Participants:

  • Dennis Yoder – GRSF Maintenance Supervisor
  • Andy – GRSF Crew Member
  • Tommy – GRSF Crew Member
  • Mike Vincenty – CORE Member
  • Robert Rixham – CORE Member
  • Fred Granruth – CORE Member
  • Andrew Taylor and Cherie Wood – CORE Members
  • Larry Pope, CORE Member

Have you ever had one of those days when you were the bug or the windshield? I had one on Friday, the day when most of the CORE members were meeting at the camp site Mark had reserved for us. It had been raining since Thursday morning and it was raining hard Friday morning. I had the pop-up camper all loaded and hitched to the Jeep, ready to go. As I was getting ready to leave I thought I would check the camper lights one more time. Nope, not working. I found a burned out bulb and changed it out, lights still not working. Evidently there was a short somewhere because there were no blown fuses. By this time I was soaked to the bone and freezing. So I disconnected the camper and loaded all my gear from the camper and a tent and a couple of canopies into the Jeep. When that was done I went in the house and dried off, changed clothes and then hit the road for the two hour drive west. I guess you could say I was a little ticked off and hoped the rest of the weekend would go better.

I arrived at GRSF headquarters sometime between 12:30 and 1:00 pm Friday. After completing some paperwork and shooting the breeze with Robin, I headed to Group Site 1. This is the same site we had for the spring volunteer weekend. It was still raining so I put on my poncho and started constructing my shelter for the weekend. It was a good thing, particularly taking in consideration the frame of mind I was in when loading the Jeep, I thought to take along both of my canopies. So I took the smallest one and set it up first so I could erect my tent under it keeping dry as possible. After I had the tent erected I lowered the canopy and covered the whole thing with a large tarp I also thought to take along. When I was done it looked like a big blue box but not a drop of water entered the tent. After I was done I was soaked again from the rain. However, the rain had let up and I thought a cup of coffee would be just the ticket to warm me up.

During my loading spree and evidently not in the correct frame of mind I had left one bag in the pop-up camper. That bag happened to be the one with all the cooking utensils, pots, and one burner stove. I definitely felt like the bug on this day. So I got the idea to go to the Exxon station and store on Orleans Road to see if they had a small camp stove and at least a coffee pot for sale. Nope. So I bought a cup of coffee to go. I then thought of the camp store at the Orleans Camp Ground. They had a coffee pot, $14 thank you very much, but no stove. So I bought a cup of coffee to go from there also. I bought the $14 9 cup coffee pot assuming someone else that would be camping would have some type of camp stove or I would just use the camp fire coals to heat up water and make coffee. With my new shiny coffee pot and a cup of hot coffee in hand I headed back to camp.

When I returned to the camp site Robert and Fred had arrived and had begun erecting their mansion, ok huge tent. After they were done Fred helped me setup my large canopy I had sense enough to take along. It would come in handy the rest of the weekend during the rain showers. I told them about my eventful morning and about leaving the one bag at home and showed them my brand new coffee pot. Thank goodness Robert had brought his Sears camp stove. Yes, Sears, this thing is antique but works like a charm. After we had the canopy up the three of us sat under it and shot the bull for a while and watched the rain showers come and go. It was starting to get late in the day and the rain had stopped so we got a fire going and Robert got his cooking gear out. I was going to get to use my new $14 9 cup coffee pot! It must have been around 7 pm or later when Andrew and Cherie arrived at camp. They would be setting up their tent in the dark. The lights on top their rig did help with lighting the area up for them. Andrew had brought along a couple large canopies so one was put over his and Cherie’s tent and the other one over Robert’s and Fred’s tent (mansion) but not until Saturday. Sorry to say though, the guys already had at least an inch or more of water on the floor of the tent. No problem for Fred because he had a camping cot. Robert would not be so lucky. He decide he would sleep in back of his 4Runner where it was dry. It rained off and on most of the night.

Saturday morning Mike Vincenty arrived at camp, he would only be spending the day helping with the work to be done. Dennis Yoder and his crew of Andy and Tommy arrived at the camp site a little after 9 am. Everyone was introduced and Dennis explained the work detail for the day. We would be clearing or brushing out the overgrowth along the sides of May Road. We all loaded up in our respective rigs and followed Dennis out to the work site. Mike had brought along his chainsaw and helped Dennis and his crew cut while the rest of us drug the debris off to the side of the road. Dennis and I were talking when he asked how long we planned to work for the day. I told him as long as it took to get the project finished. May Road is about a mile long so it didn’t take us long to get the work done. We were done by noon or a little after. It was also a relief that it had not rained during the time we were working and the temperature stayed in the mid-50s. But with the humidity it felt more like mid 60s or low 70s, so off came the sweatshirts and flannel shirts. After we were done we all gathered around and Fred took a group photo. Dennis and I discussed future volunteer work from CORE and I think we will be doing this on a routine basis. We followed Dennis out to the main road and parted ways. The CORE bunch headed back to camp for lunch.

After lunch Mike headed home and the rest of us took off to tour the roads on the forest. There are no OHV trails located on the forest however, there are some roads that are a little rough and two or three creek crossings. On this tour I took the group on some of the roads we travelled back in the spring and on the north side of I-68. We took Mountain Road and then went up the mountain via Tower Road to an overlook at the junction of US 40. Yes it was raining most of the ride. We all stopped at the Exxon station on Orleans Road to top off our rigs with gas and resupply any items we needed from the store.
Upon returning to camp the rain had let up so one of the guys got the camp fire going. We all sat around shooting the breeze and I remembered I had brought some snacks for everyone to try. The snacks were jerky and sticks made from alligator, ostrich, and venison meat. There were several flavors of each but the one most liked was the Hot and Spicy Alligator stick and second place belonged to the Cajun Alligator jerky. I think I had enough to give everyone some to take home with them. Naturally I had to tell a story of my experience with alligators and other aquatic wildlife since I am an old boy from Florida. Don’t worry, I won’t tell it here in this write up. It was getting late and being an old boy I decided to turn in for the night. Sometime around 2 am somebody’s horn started blowing, FRED! No, he was in his tent (mansion). It scarred the “you know what” out of everybody. Evidently Robert had left his keys in his pocket when he climbed into the back of the 4Runner to go to bed and had rolled over and activated the panic button on the key fob. I found out later the others made a plan that night that if a bear happened to come into camp Robert would activate the panic alarm. So everyone, except me since I wasn’t in on the plan, thought a bear was in camp when the horn on the Toy started blowing. No one ever told me the planned action(s) if there had been a bear.

Sunday morning was a little chilly but it wasn’t raining. Fred got a fire going and everyone started moving about. Robert started the gourmet breakfast for himself and Fred which consisted of pancakes, eggs, and scrapple. Andrew and Cherie toasted their pop-tarts over the camp fire as usual. I made a cup of coffee from the water Robert boiled in my brand new $14 9 cup coffee pot. After a while we started taking things down and packing for the trip home. When Robert and Fred were dismantling their huge tent (mansion) Robert had to pour at least five gallons of water out of it. I told you the tent was as big as a mansion, that thing even had an indoor pool. I think Fred is in the market for a new tent. We all finally had things packed and loaded ready to head home. We ensured the camp site was cleared, the fire completely extinguished and then said our goodbyes. As I came off the mountain onto east bound I-68 it was raining. Hopefully this was not going to be the driving condition all the way home. It wasn’t and I felt like the windshield instead of the bug.

Yes it was a wet weekend but we all had a great time. CORE sends a big thank you to Mark and his staff and Dennis and his crew for letting us help when and where we can. We will be setting up a volunteer weekend for the spring of next year and if you want to join in on the fun by all means please join us.

Trail report written by Larry Pope. Pictures courtesy of Larry Pope, Fred Granruth, Andrew Taylor, and Cherie Wood.

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