Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Festival and Races Are Coming Soon

The Woodlands Homesteading Festival (October 1 & 2) and our third annual race weekend (October 7 – 9) are at the forefront of all minds up here at the Spruce Knob Mountain Center. Giant army surplus tent s are being set up, hills are being run, and the kitchen is gearing up to turn out near record amounts of food. I could spend a bit of time here talking more about the specifics of what’s going on out here over the next couple weekends, but it’s already been done, and nobody is a fan of unnecessary repetition. To that end, please feel free to check out the fine entry in this very blog from a few weeks back. This is just a reminder my friends, just a reminder. Hope to see all blog readers out here in the land of falling leaves and cold mornings very soon.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Working seasonally at TMI has provided me with many things, not the least of which is the opportunity to type the words you are about to read. As great as my current situation is the moments that stand out with real clarity as I ponder my comings and goings are the arrivals. Always filled with anticipation, energy, and a hint of nerves, that first drive up Sawmill Run to 18 Woodlands Way has also never failed to bring with it a touch of the unexpected.

In the fall of ‘08 I came with no expectations and apparently not much sense of direction. Soon after entering what I now know as our driveway, I meandered past the observatory and nearly to the Hawthorn grove at Backridge before wandering back down to what I was sure were the yurts. Little did I know at the time that Daniel Taylor’s was not the yurt I was looking for. Eventually I was greeted in the proper parking lot by Brett Bjorkman (who happens to be arriving again soon for another season - bringing things around in a full circle sort of way).

The spring of ’09 came and after arriving late the night before a course’s beginning I awoke to eight inches of freshly fallen snow covering the roof of my humble van home (also known as “The Whale”, a retired but still faithful early 80’s Ford Econoline). It was a wet and cold hike that day with a slightly astounded group of 5th graders, but the pictures of that snow-covered early morning still resonate.

Ah yes, the fall of ’10. I rolled up to the Earth Shelter to see a certain burgundy Toyota Tacoma’s rear axle hanging off the edge a rock retaining wall - some five feet off the ground and surprisingly supported by nothing more than the bucket of our newly purchased Kubota tractor. All was well in the end, and with the help of a come-a-long, several hi-lift jacks, and the ingenuity of nearly an entire staff, the Tacoma was restored to its terrestrial home.

The voyage can be good, the adventure itself memorable, and the departure sad, but for me - at this place - the arrivals will always stand out.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Here's To New Beginnings

An introduction is in order I suppose. Readers should, in my estimation anyway, know who is typing the words that make their way to the esteemed pages of the Spruce Knob Mountain Center Blog. Nathan Hayes, Josh Nease, and, of course, the most recent contributor, Jeff DeBellis have all left their mark on these pages over the last handful of years, and now I’m excited to sidle up to the keyboard. Oh yes, an introduction was the goal here. Back to it.

Until the age of six I lived in a cabin in the northern Michigan woods somewhere in the range of 45 minutes from the nearest town (Vanderbilt, 200 strong). This is a place that I am lucky enough to get to visit quite frequently and every time I meander up the driveway I am reaffirmed in my desire to spend the majority of my time away from concrete and strip malls. Living in that cabin started me down a winding forest path that I have followed to this this day – a path that I am lucky to have stayed relatively close to through the years. High school and college came and went and I landed in western New Mexico where I began mountain biking and trail running – passions that have held to this day. (At this very moment my bike is actually awaiting the completion of this fine blog entry.) I have found myself at TMI on three previous, seasonal occasions, and now as the new Course Director and Communications Director I am lucky enough to call this mountain my year round home.

Needless to say I am looking forward to bringing random ponderings, solid updates, and possibly the occasional crazy tale to this blog. Basically, it will be as if Spruce Knob were right in your backyard (for those of you reading this in the Earth Shelter that will actually be true I suppose). Read on, friends.

Chuck Whitney