'Twas a Helvetia good time from Dan and Jody Lehmann's this past weekend.  As usual, the hospitality was superb, the weather was great (snow beats rain any old time!), and the conviviality and victuals were outstanding.  Runners who made it were Dan and Jody, Cindy and her friend from Philippi (why is it I never remember the men's names???), J.R. and his buddy, John R. and his lover Bret, J.L, and Jen-Ben from Elkins....oh, and li'l old me, Charlie....and don't forget Zoe, the pound puppy of Dan's who ran about twice as far as we all did.
 
WE all had our serious doubts as to whether we would get to Kumbrabow in one piece....Jennifer showed up just in the nick of time, to board the Dan-van, and we all know that he drives with no eyes on the road, only occasionally glancing ahead at the treacherous curves on the icy and pothole-strewn roads.  The weather was turning from snowy to blizzardy, and as we saddled up with our fanny packs, we knew we had a fine time in store traversing this winter wonderland.   D & J had thoughtfully stashed the Jeep at the five-mile point for those ready to hit the hot tub early; the rest of us gamely plodded on, trying to catch the crazies John, J.L. and shutterbug Potts (forgot to mention him...how could I forget?) as they careened down the hills at breakneck speed.   The Raven Rock overlook nearly caught us unawares, and we were grateful that Dan had warned, "You could easily die from this plunge"....one could not even see the bottom for the fog.
 
At one point the trail diverged, and Dan tried to talk us out of doing the longer loop which included two creek crossings, but we would have none of it...it was "Sydney or the bush!" for six of us, and we all managed to cross a log at the first stream crossing.  After traipsing about two miles, though, the second crossing was more daunting, and the log much narrower...only Dan, J.L. and Jennifer succeeded...the rest of us got a free ice-cold washing of our trail shoes, courtesy of Ma Nature.   On the ridge, the wind was gusting fiercely, up to 45 MPH, and we all caught serious cases of face-freeze.
 
Toward the end, with but a few tenths to go, we happened upon JR, who seemed disoriented, having gotten separated from the second group, but Dan guided us the correct way, even as tracks on the road diverged into the wood...on the sprint for home, I easily surged past John R., but Pottsie threw an elbow which caught me unawares as I was performing my Prefontaine routine.  We all acknowledge that we're not competitive and only run for "fun", but once in a while it's  entertaining to mix it up a bit.  Let me just throw out my acknowledgment that I can't carry J.L.'s or John's dirty lingerie in a trail run, and leave it at that.
 
After the harrowing drive back to stately Lehmann Manor, it was off with the wet things and straight into the hot tub where the honeys were keeping the temperature up just for me (see pic).   Everyone else gorged out on the resplendent fare while I soaked, but there was plenty for all.   At the meeting we discussed the possibility of taking a trip out West to do the Big Ditch (GC) or perhaps some other big event.   Potts is point man on this, but if there is serious interest, we gotta get to planning soon and very soon.
 
Thanks to Jody and Dan once again for their excellent hospitality and kindness.   Please look ahead to some fun trail events in the Morgantown area this summer.  We'll try to get you all those dates ASAP.
 
God bless you all, and keep on truckin',
 
Charlie Shaffer