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Flat Tire, Winter Storm, Bitter Cold - All in a Day's Work for HOC


The Outing Club had an eventful spring break, sending out two trips over the course of the two-week respite from school. The first week’s trip took a group eight strong into the Shenandoah National Park of Virginia, where they encountered a series of unfortunate events which forced them to scramble and improvise their plans.

Led by Keith Ruggles ’20, the group departed from Hamilton on Saturday morning on what should have been a seven-hour drive, but turned into more. An unexpected flat tire caught them on the home stretch of the drive and imposed a significant delay on their progress, but AAA came to the rescue and after two hours, the group made it to the final destination of the day.

However, this setback would not and could not break their spirits. The group enjoyed a dinner of hot soup before hunkering down in their sleeping bags for a cold night. Again their spirits remained unbroken upon hearing news from a park ranger that the mountains were expecting about a foot of snow.

As trip leader, Ruggles evaluated the situation and decided the best course of action was to change the itinerary. “It was actually an easy call to make,” he said. “We knew there would be snow and one or two inches would have been fine, but a foot is not what we advertised, expected, or signed up for.”

The new itinerary was discussed and decided upon as a group and following the heed of Hamilton’s flat tire protocol, they moved on to Bethesda, Md. for local hiking and spare tire opportunities. In stark contrast to their first night, the group lavishly “glamped” for the next two nights in the basement of a participant’s house.

“Glamping” usually refers to camping out of a van at campgrounds and sites, but since they packed all of their belongings each morning, expecting to be able to execute their new plans, the group felt it still applied. After spending roughly nine hours over two days in the Lindsay Ford Dealership of Silver Springs, Md., the group cut the trip short and beelined back to Hamilton to beat Winter Storm Skylar.

“I commend the participants on the trip for keeping such good spirits throughout and for having the flexibility to still have a great time traversing across the Chesapeake Bay area,” Ruggles said. He was joined by Elyssa Feuer ’19, Lizzie Egey ’19, Marisabel Rey ’19, Fiona McLaughlin ’19, Isabelle Mosbarger ’20, Bethany Vickery ’20, and Emmaline Keene ’20.

Genevieve Darling ’18 and Megan Bates ’18 led a trip to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee with participants Serena Smith ’18 and Kai Scarangella ’20. They had originally planned to hike a four-day loop in the southern part of the Smokies but were hit by a snowstorm on the first night.

The National Park Service issued an announcement asking people to stay out of the backcountry unless they were fully prepared for heavy and high stream crossings as well as full winter camping conditions. The group spent one day hiking at low elevation, but suffered a bitter night and the next day drove to Chattanooga, where there was no snow and plenty of warm weather.

They spent two days hiking on local trails and playing cards in the tent, getting a taste of sunny hiking while they could. They celebrated their last night with an extravagant pancake dinner and the next morning, they made the 15-hour trip home to Hamilton.

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