Wednesday, October 17, 2018

October 2018 Thyen Family Fun Weekend

The Thyen Family Fun Weekend
Friday, October 12th through Monday, October 15th, 2018
Loudoun County, VA

It has been way too long since my side of the family has gotten together.  So Amy and I decided to take a few days off from work to head up to Virginia to visit my family for a long weekend.

We visited four breweries, had plenty of good food and drink, took a family hike along a short section of the Appalachian Trail, and had an all around great time!

Here are some of the photos from our weekend!

 Me and my brother Bill enjoying some brews at Solace Brewery

Marielle and Duke

Family Photo at the Dirt Farm Brewery

 view from the Dirt Farm Brewery

Hanging out at the Dirt Farm Brewery

Marielle, Liam, and Michelle playing Soccer at the Dirt Farm Brewery

Family Photo at the Dirt Farm Brewery

My Mom, Marielle, and Duke

 My Nephew Conner

My Dad and Duke

Conner gets a Mega Flight at the Vanish Brewery

My Mom and my Niece Katie at the Vanish Brewery

Family Photo at the Vanish Brewery

Mariell, Liam, and Katie at the Bear's Den Overlook

 My Brother Bill and his Family at the Bear's Den Overlook

Conner, Bill, and Me at the Vanish Brewery

My Brother Bill and his family at the Bear Chase Brewery

My Mom and Dad at the Bear Chase Brewery

Family Photo at the Bear Chase Brewery

 Michelle and Liam at the Bear Chase Brewery
Marielle and Liam at the Bear Chase Brewery

Marielle and Liam by a cool tree carving

Family hike to the Bear's Den Overlook

Marielle and Liam climbing the rocks

Family Photo at my brother Bill's House

Amy and Me at the Bear's Den Overlook

The complete set of photos is posted here:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

2018-10-06 Another Epic Team Waterfall Weekend

Another Epic Team Waterfall Weekend
The Secret Cabin
Somewhere in the Mountains of North Carolina
Friday, October 5th to Sunday, October 7th, 2018

Group photo by an unnamed waterfall on Mitchell Creek
L to R:  Sam, Scott, John, Ziggy, Angelina, Kyle, Me, Elliott, Spencer

One of the interesting things about Team Waterfall is all the different occupations of our members.  We have Engineers, School Teachers, an Accountant, a Waitress, a Nurse, a Lawyer, and a State Park Ranger just to name a few.

We also have a Commercial Airline Pilot!  So if you are ever flying Spirit Airlines out of Asheville, NC and hear Captain John Podlewski on the speaker, shake his hand as you exit the plane and tell him Bushwhack Jack says Hi!

Captain John  (photo stolen from his Facebook page)

For this weekend, John invited some of Team Waterfall up to one of his friend's cabin.  We have all be sworn to secrecy as to the location of this cabin, so I will not be posting any directions, GPS tracks, or other location details.

Our accommodations for the weekend

But before we head to the cabin, we had a plane wreck to find!

All throughout the mountains of North Carolina, various airplane wrecks are scattered about.  Many of these crashes happen in such secluded areas, that it is not practical to remove the debris.  Since most airplanes are made out of Aluminum which does not rust, the remains of these airplane wrecks will be around for many years.

Friday's hike involved a search for the remains of a 1949 plane wreck near Mount Mitchell.  Joining John and Me on this hike would be David and Ashley.

Friday's Search Team
 L to R:  Me, John, Ashley, and David

We did not have an exact GPS location, just a rough description from a 1949 crash report.  We had a lot of fun bushwhacking around the side of the mountain for about 4 hours, but came up empty handed.  Other than the group photo at the beginning, I didn't even take any photos!

Not all Team Waterfall hikes are a success, but it was still great to see David again and meet Ashley for the first time.  And wandering around the woods on a Friday afternoon is far better than being at work!

Ashley and David were just up for the day, so we parted ways and headed on to the next part of our adventure!   John and I met up with Kyle, Angelina, and Ziggy at an undisclosed location to begin our trek to the cabin.

Taking a break to filter some water

Ziggy cooling off

We arrived the cabin shortly before sunset and Elliott arrived soon after.  The cabin turned out to be far nicer than anything I was expecting!

Cool sky just after sunset from somewhere near the Cabin

The five of us (plus Ziggy) enjoyed a nice evening around the campfire!

The cabin at night

Ziggy and Angelina by the Campfire

Friday Night Group Photo
L to R:  Kyle, John, Me, Elliott, Angelina

I am once of those types of people that does not know how to sleep in.  Even staying up till almost 2:00am the night before, I was still up by 6:00am.  It was a foggy morning and I love hiking in the fog!  So I took a little morning stroll along a nearby trail to enjoy the peacefulness of the Spruce/Fir forest in the morning fog!

Foggy Morning along the trail

Foggy Morning along the trail

Saturday Morning at the Cabin

Elliott and Ziggy

Once everyone else was up and moving, it was time to begin Saturday's Main Event!  In addition to the Cabin connection, John was also able to receive permission to visit the elusive Mitchell Falls.

The decent down to Mitchell Falls requires over 2,000 feet in elevation change almost entirely off trail!  Descending (and later climbing) 2,000 feet is hard enough on a trail!  However, our route to Mitchell Falls was about 90% either bushwhack and/or creek walk!

I am not going to post any GPS tracks or details about the route we took.  I'll let the photos do the talking!

Group photo at the start of our hike
L to R:  Me, Elliott, Kyle, Angelina, John  (Ziggy in front)

The last trail we would see until well after dark!

Group photo at a small cascade along Mitchell Creek

About half way down, we came to the top of an impressive waterfall where we saw Spencer, Sam, and Scott (The Professor) down below.  So our group of five became eight (plus Ziggy).

Group photo at an unnamed waterfall on Mitchell Creek
L to R:  Sam, Scott (the Professor), Captain John, Ziggy, Angelina, Kyle, Me, Elliott, Spencer

 Elliott taking a break by a nice waterfall along Mitchell Creek

Spencer, Scott and Sam working their way down Mitchell Creek

Spencer and the Professor making their way down Mitchell Creek

 Nice unnamed waterfall on Mitchell Creek

 Spencer and Sam working their way down Mitchell Creek



 Eventually we reached our goal of making it to Mitchell Falls!

 Kyle, Angelina, and Scott above Mitchell Falls

 Kyle and Scott above Mitchell Falls

Now we had that 2,000+ feet of elevation to gain back.  The return hike was a bit crazy!  Our group split apart.  Elliott decided to head out solo to get out before dark.  John, Spencer, and Sam decided to continue downstream a bit.   I stuck with Scott, Angelina, Kyle, and Ziggy.

During one section of bushwhacking, Scott's glasses were ripped off his face never to be seen again.  We spent about 20 minutes looking for them to no avail!

Later on, I ran back into John, Spencer, and Sam and finished the hike with them.  Scott, Kyle, Angelina, and Ziggy opted for a longer, but much more level route back!

The last hour was a steep bushwhack uphill in complete darkness! Fortunately, most of us had headlights and everyone made it out safely!  But now we still had about a 3 mile hike back to the cabin!

I did the final stretch back to the cabin with Spencer and Sam!  It is always a pleasure to hang with Spencer and it was great getting to know Sam for the first time!  I hope to meet up with her again in the future! 

The only real disappointment of the weekend was that Scott was beat and wasn't up for the trek to the cabin, so he missed out on the evening festivities.

It was almost 11:00pm by the time we made it to the cabin!  Andy, Christy, Boone, and Kona were waiting for hours before the rest of us showed up!

And then shortly after the rain arrived!  Good thing we had the cabin to keep us dry!  It was a very enjoyable evening just hanging out and enjoying each others stories and company!

Hanging out inside the cabin
L to R:  John, Sam, Spencer, Elliott

Team Waterfall practices Leave No Trace wherever our adventures take us!  I was really impressed the way everyone pitched in on Sunday Morning to clean up and leave that cabin at least as clean as when we arrived!  This was no easy task as the cabin was pretty much spotless when we arrived!  We also divvied up all the trash so every toted out their fair share!

Sunday Morning Group Photo
L to R:  Andy, Christy, Boone, John, Spencer, Angelina, Sam, Elliott, Kyle, Me, Ziggy 

 Sunday Morning at the Cabin

Ziggy and Elliott

Boone, Sam, Kona

There were grand plans for another Sunday adventure, but most of us decided we had enough for the weekend and parted ways.  It was about a 3 mile hike back to where our vehicles were parked.  Elliott and I stuck together for the hike out which was quite enjoyable!

View from the trail on our hike out from the cabin

This was an awesome weekend!  Thanks John for making it happen!  And a special thanks to the owner of this cabin who generously let a group of mostly strangers enjoy the space that obviously took a huge amount of time, money, effort, and planning to build!  Your generosity is very much appreciated!

My complete set of photos from the weekend is posted here: