I've just started to finally scan the photos that parents attached to the camp applications. It will be a slow process, so check back. You can find the page here at this link. And of course, under the "Photo Galleries" tab you'll find a link to "Camper Photos."
During some of our earliest years at TrailRidge, our neighbor across Hughes Gap Road from camp, would spend his own money each Fourth of July to put on a show for the camp. Stan served as our maintenance man and we couldn't have gotten stuff done without him. He took great joy in shooting off about 15 minutes worth of firepower for those first few summers. The boys and staff would sit on the bank of the pond and enjoy the show. We enjoyed it just about as much as Stan did.
And now, nearly 40 years later, I've put on my own fireworks show. The background is the Town of Columbus had to cancel their festivities because of COVID-19. I decided I "could be like Stan."
Click this link to check out my video to see how I did.
Received this great photo last night. Bill Janvier and Ben Parker are still good friends after meeting as staff members at TMC over 35 years old. Bill (living in the Raleigh area) went out to do some hiking in New Mexico with Ben who lives out that way. Camp friendships are the best!
You'll see that Bill is wearing a very old TMC t-shirt and Ben has his TMC patch and third-year carabiner. (Plus he's wearing an old jacket that I gave him.)
Thanks for keeping the spirit alive!
So TrailRidge folks, after traveling with my MindStretch Travel Adventures groups for years...we finally took the guys on a trip into the old TMC neck of the woods. We hiked up to Round Bald and a little beyond from Carvers Gap. It was 59 degrees when we arrived there this past Wednesday. And when we were done...guess where we had lunch with those famous milkshakes? You guessed it - Bob's Dairyland. Nothing has changed except the "outhouse" at Carver's Gap is slightly fancier than before.
We did meet a couple of Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy caretakers and they had some news about the old TMC property. I will wait until I visit the old TrailRidge before posting any info. That's not happening for several weeks.
There were two predecessors to MindStretch Travel Adventures. The first was called Open Road Experiences and compared to today’s adventures; we were roughing it. We were gone weeks at a time and spent almost every single night in tents and prepared virtually all our own meals. Today’s MTA programs still enjoy all the great activities during the day, but we’ve learned how nice it is to come back to “base camp” in a real bed in a hotel and eat dinner out in a restaurant.
So the other day I received an email from a camper from the very second year of the Open Road program (1979) saying he had discovered the MTA website and it looked like we had gotten spoiled. He could be right but I’m older and wiser and it’s nice to have the best of both worlds.
But I should mention when my wife and I started our residential program (between ORE & MTA) there was nothing at all easy about that first year. All of the rain we’ve had the past couple of years (at least here in Western North Carolina) reminded me of that very first summer at TrailRidge Mountain Camp in 1982. The boys arrived to find out there were no cabins, there were no flush toilets, there were no real hot showers, and there was no dining hall. We hardly had electricity. The idea was that the boys were coming up that first summer to help us “build” the camp. And they did arrive…by the dozens.
We slept in tents and tarps and endured rain. And we endured more rain. And more rain. In fact, that summer was a record setter back then. I imagine that record has been recently broken. We cooked under a dining fly and used solar showers (if we showered at all) and had one of five porta-potties to choose from.
Then, as expected, the health department discovered we were running this camp and we had as of that moment not been permitted. That’s another story.
Well, we had an ultimatum to get those tents off the ground, get the bathhouse open, get the dining hall opened and inspected, and quit drinking water out of the spring. We had a weekend to get it done, but luckily the Fourth of July was around the weekend so we got an extra day or two. We did get it done. The rain didn’t stop. Most of the kids had fun. Some of them came back. And we continued running the camp for the next 14 years or so.
And then I was back to traveling and the camp morphed into MTA. And I’ll tell you, it’s the way to go! And no matter which way we travel or camp…we make new memories (almost like these) every single day.
This first photo was from our 1979 Open Road trip. It was seven weeks long - SEVEN WEEKS! We traveled from New Orleans to New England and into Canada. We called ourselves, "The Dirty Dozen."
The second photo is from the very first couple of week or so at TrailRidge. This was an example of someone's shelter. Nothing else about that summer.
One of TMC’s very first staff members and long-time friend, Ray Thompson of Sumter, SC, has walked his last trail on earth. Ray died at the end of December.
Ray, along with his wife Nancy, were with us at the very beginning of the development of the concept of TrailRidge Mountain Camp. I remember meeting Ray & Nancy a couple of days after purchasing the property up in the mountains and they shared in my enthusiasm. Ray & Nancy were there the first year of the camp and continued to return for several more years. Ray also joined me on nearly a dozen adventure trips during the TrailRidge years and the years afterwards where we returned to our travel camp roots.
I first met Ray in 1971 when we were working at a summer camp. He became an instant friend. We’ll all miss Ray and his great camp spirit.
Here at TrailRidge, in the mountains,
With our fire burning bright,
May this circle of new friendship,
Be a warm and shining light.
(first verse of the TrailRidge campfire song)
Ray is in the header of this page along with a group of early campers.
Bottom three photos:
Ray around a campfire the very first summer at camp in 1982.
Ray enjoying a float in the TMC swimming hole with Tally.
Ray and Nancy -- probably at Mark & Bobbie's wedding on the TMC property before there was anything there except trees and water.
Chris was a "neighbor" coming to us from the nearby town of Newland, NC. I certainly can't remember which years but he and his brother, Peter, were certainly part of our community. Their older brother, Patrick, was a counselor for maybe just a year. Years escape me.
Anyway, just today Chris submitted two old photos he found on a roll of film. Film? Negatives? Here they are. I do remember Tally the dog in the first photo. She had one litter of puppies while at camp and we kept one and he was named Panda. That "could" be Barclay Yates, a counselor, on the left and the small guy on the right's first name is Phillip or Phillippe or something like that. He had a long last name. I might actually have that information somewhere. I'm going to start a new page with submitted photos, so if you have any...consider sending them on. I wouldn't have a clue who the mummy is so any of you could claim that distinction!
Dates and names would be great!
Send to me with this link.
Sit down when you have a few minutes and watch this video shared with me today by former TMC staffer, Ben Parker.
It's about "our" Roan Mountain and how a chunk of it got its protection from mining back in the early 1970s, about a decade before TrailRidge opened. This is a story I've never heard.
It's told by Jay Leutze who just happened to be a high school classmate of Ben.
Click the link below to view the video.
Maybe you read the October blog post where I wrote about the old camp property being turned over to the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy for safekeeping for all eternity. Well, hopefully.
I've just learned that two additional properties have recently been added to the original TrailRidge tract more than doubling the size of what is called the Big Rock Creek Preserve. There are now about 125 acres preserved and this borders the neighboring national forests and the Appalachian Trail.
The second of the two articles mentions that there will be a trail open on the Preserve for folks like us to enjoy.
You can read about these new additions by following the links below.
The second addition of property.
The third addition of property.
Who would have guessed there's a "Roan Mountain Suite" of music. It's by the Kruger Brothers. I had the privilege of seeing them in concert for my first time a couple of months ago. If you've never heard them or heard of them...they're definitely a group to check out. The brothers are two guys from Switzerland who settled in Western North Carolina to follow in the footsteps of Doc Watson and many other Appalachian musicians. They have a brother by another mother who also plays with the group.
Just some random thoughts about how TrailRidge came to be and about life at the camp in those first 15 or so years in Buladean.