Backbone Mountain, Tubing the Upper Yough and Hiking Big Savage

This weekend is dedicated to a woman named Christine whom I met last year around this time. Christine and I got to talking about Backbone Mountain, which is the highest point in Maryland. I had just finished reading an article about it where the write said it was pretty unfabulous, Christine quickly lost her temper with me in a spectacular fashion, she claimed to have been there and said it was a rugged and exciting climb to the top. The only conclusion my group of friends and me reached from this discussion was that Christine had an anger management issue. So I devoted this weekend to finding the truth about Backbone Mountain.

I had remembered reading about Mountain Lake Park in Garrett County and vaguely recalled there were supposed to be beautiful Victorian homes there. I decided that would be my travel objective on Friday night. Upon my arrival I quickly found the mountain lake but no gorgeous Victorian homes, MLP turned out to be a disappointment. I traveled on to Oakland for the evening where I caught up with the Little Yough Summer Music Festival featuring that night Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion. My advice to those two is don’t quit your day job and practice more.

I decided to head back to an apartment complex in MLP to bed down for the evening. I entered the complex quietly and parked off to the side in a parking area. It was hot in the minivan so I took off my clothes and slipped into my sleeping bag. 10 minutes after retiring for the evening I hear a police siren. A police cruiser arrives in the parking lot and parks right next to my minivan. I figured somebody in the apartment complex became suspicious when nobody had exited my vehicle and called the police. 2 minutes later another police cruiser arrives and parks on the other side of my minivan. I stay still assuming that I will be questioned thoroughly. Then a fire engine arrives and parks directly behind my car. Between all the blue, yellow and red lights, the interior of my car is lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids. This seems like a lot of firepower for one middle-aged woman sleeping in her car and I figure I might be spending the night in the lock-up. I am sure there is some sort of rule in Garrett County about sleeping in your car naked on private property.

I hear the public servants talking but I dare not rise to find out what is going on. Then I hear the police and firemen walk toward the apartment complex and away from my car. I can’t see what is happening or why they were there but apparently the armory was not called on my behalf. Eventually the emergency personnel leave without noticing me and I drift off to sleep.


The next day I rise early and head off toward Backbone Mountain. People on the Internet suggest giving oneself 40 minutes to climb to the top. I decided to give myself 20 and take off. I arrive at the summit in 21 minutes. The place is definitely unfabulous. There is a marker denoting the peak at the top.

Afterwards I stupidly decide to tube the Upper Youghiogheny between Swallows Falls and Hoye’s Run. Kids, don’t try this at home. I failed to do my homework and it turns out there is some serious whitewater not suitable for a float tube between the two points. I had a wonderful time but had to portage around some of the trickier areas. I also passed by where they perform the dam release for the Upper Young, that is some serious scary equipment the utility company has where I wouldn't want to be anywhere near that place when they let the water free.


On Sunday I decided to return to Savage Mountain and actually find the Southern trailhead this time. The campground was completely empty, unlike Memorial Day, I was able to enjoy this trail with beautiful weather. Figuring that I wouldn’t pass anyone I decided to hike up the mountain without my clothes on. I found some neat rocky outcroppings at the top. Before I descended I decided to put my clothes back on which was a good thing because I did meet one other hiker. This man’s name was Ron and he was a professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown Campus. Turns out he lives on Washington Street in Cumberland, one of my favorite neighborhoods.

2 comments:

sherijberi said...

I'm going to seriously enjoy keeping up with your blog. You commented on crankymommy (a dear friend) and luckily I clicked on your page. Two of my reading passions are food and travel books. Thank you for your funny and interesting entry. Also for opening the door to the Apalachian trail journal page (from Stumpknocker). Sheri;)

tw34k said...

That is a highly amusing story...

Hope to see you on the river sometime..

-C