Read the story.
Ben Parker sent this notice to me today about the closing of the Overmountain Shelter. I imagine several dozen of our campers/counselors stayed in this shelter on one of their "Bob's Dairyland Hikes" that took adventurous campers on the AT from Carver's Gap down to 19-E in the town of Roan Mountain.
Read the story.
If you were at TMC in the early 1980s, you might have been terrorized by the unannounced appearance of "The Wastewatcher" who would show up on a noisy motorcycle wearing clothes that would make the Hell's Angels proud. He was there to enforce the "take what you want, eat what you take" rule. I caught up with Randy and Ellen Nentrup a few days ago. Randy is still riding motorcycles, but I'm thinking he's done with terrorizing the neighborhood. Both are retired and living in Buladean full time.
Randy and Ellen are nurses. Ellen retired a few years ago and Randy just retired in May 2023.
I think Ben Parker does an amazing job of keeping up with camp friends. Here's his trip report of a hike with fellow counselor Steve Sovelove that happened just after his hike with Collyn Martinez.
Steve and his wife stayed here for 2 days. On one of the days we did a 5-hour hike in 95-degree heat; we both held up great and I think we were moving as fast as our TrailRidge days. Both of our health has really improved (2 years ago we were bed-ridden at times with pain). Steve is still making custom-cabinets and furniture. He is a master craftsman. He also plays drums in a punk band.
We all had many meals together and could not have had a better time together. Neither of us has changed much. He and I are the best of friends for 35 years now! Here's a photo taken in a remote part of the northern Sandias near Albuquerque that we hiked to.
Ben Parker & Collyn Martinez are still friends and hiking buddies after decades of being out of touch.
Trip Report from Ben Parker
Collyn Martinez lives in New Orleans and involved in real estate. He is visiting NM mainly to see his good friend in Santa Fe. They are whitewater rafting near Taos for a few days, and hiking and camping. I'm still working as a stock investor and close to retiring. Collyn and I did a 2-hour hike up off-trail up a steep arroyo with signs of black bear everywhere but we didn't see any. Collyn and I will be life-long friends.
Tom Stitt and Mark took a group of kids on the first "long" on-road, self-contained bike trip in 1997. We've had other self-contained trips at camp that were two or three days and we've had "supported" trips that were much longer including at least one "mountains-to-the-sea" bike trips. On this five-day trip, we didn't have a sag wagon. Packed what we needed on the bikes. Tom just uncovered these photos he took and shared them. They are posted on the trailridge.info website along with a bunch of other things to explore.
It's been nearly 20 years (I'm thinking) since I've seen Gus Jerdee. That changed this week when I found him. I can't disclose his actual location, but he's enjoying his retirement living on a few acres in the mountains of North Carolina. And that's where we're all probably thinking he should be. He and Suzanne stay very busy developing their mountain homestead. Each summer they invite family and friends of family to their own little camp for a couple of weeks.
Another camper from the past. This morning I got an email from camper Trevor Ferrell. I'm thinking he was there around 1985. Ben Parker might know for sure. Thanks for getting in touch, Trevor.
And here's his memory...
I was a camper for one year. Do not remember the year or too many details. I do remember Ben Parker. I remember leaving the cabin and another camper said to Ben, "It's cold Ben, it's cold." Ben laughed and we continued to use the saying, "It's cold Ben, it's cold" during the camp session. Anyway, thought I would share.
Every so often someone gets in touch with me just to chat. I just hung up with Robert LaPlace, who at age ten or so came to TrailRidge for his first of a few summers. He's the guy fourth from the left. In this photo he was on an Outer Banks bike trip with staff members Gus Jerdee, Danny Moore, and Joe Mahon (Great Britain).
I got to know Robert when he was just nine or so when I was living in New Orleans and he was nearby in Metairie. He and I became "brothers" as in the Big Brothers program. We've been friends ever since which would now be over 40 years.
Also in this photo I recognize Chuck Lockwood, Tommy Paylor, Chris Brown, McHardy Stoutz, and Michael LaPlace in addition to Robert, Gus, Danny, and Joe.
Ten years ago, first-year camper Kirk Moyer from Metairie/New Orleans, sent me an incredible piece talking about his TrailRidge memories. Kirk was there that first year (1982)and came back for a second. That first year was no cakewalk so the fact that anyone returned was somewhat of a minor miracle. Kirk resent his story just this week to commemorate the 40th year of TMC's founding. Thanks Kirk. He's actually going to be up in the TrailRidge-Roan Mountain-Hughes Gap areas in a couple of weeks.
Check it out: https://www.trailridge.info/uploads/7/7/7/4/7774835/i_blazed_the_trail_-_kirk_moyer.pdf
It’s always good to get some updates from past staff and campers. Ben Parker (5 years at TMC including the very first) and Steve Sovelove (2 years, ’85 & ’86) are two camp counselors who have remained friends for nearly 40 years.
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.