December 15, 2002

Taking the Upper Pass

Maneuvers beyond our perimeter are planned today for 1300 hours. The troops (The General and one raw recruit) will be making a foray to our objective du jour: the commercial district of Floyd, proper. Under the recent severe winter conditions, and lacking the HumVee that would make these precautions unnecessary, it was expedient that the platoon survey road conditions to the west prior to the ETD. Alternate routes may have to be considered, with a concommitant loss of time.

The Upper Pass, commonly called the 'high road to town' appears on our digital reconnaisance maps as two sets of 12 to 15 closely-spaced parallel contour lines that curve outward from central open spaces representing the ridges to the north and south. In the center between these two sets of lines packed smack-dab on top of each other (indicating a very steep pitch) is a thin blue line representing the headwaters of Goose Creek.

In 1.7 miles between Headquarters here and the hardtop up above, the creek falls almost 300 feet, winding its way back and forth as it careens toward our encampment. The narrow road follows both the pitch and the sudden angles of the creek. There are few houses along this section of road, none at all for the first mile... not because it is not beautiful and quiet there, but because only a home on three-story stilts could be adapted to the steep, rocky terraine. The cleft of the "V" along the creek up this way gets just a short burst of sun at midday. Consequently, the snow from last week is hanging tight, even after three passes by the big orange DOT truck blade. Hence, our reconnoitre.

Our chief concern: the Terrible IceDome of Death. Here, a year-round trickle of a spring oozes water from the high side of the road. This trickle fills a basin about the volume of a baseball cap, then it meanders through the gravel, crossing the road and seeping another 30 feet down into the creek. In early winter, a inch-thick crust of ice gradually forms. This later accretes into a 20 foot 12" thick pseudopodium of opalescent blue terror. More than one hapless traveler taking our road as a shortcut has ended up with at least one set of wheels hanging in space over the creek. The Dome is a formidable adversary. In my dreams last winter, it slithered down from the ridge like a boreal jellyfish, and covered our barn. I really hope that in today's recon, we will discover that it has not yet attained its winter proportions, and can go the short way to town, via the Upper Pass.

Uh-oh. Hold on. The General has commanded that the field troop call the DOT and have them bring their big orange trucks and attack the oozing creature with flamethrowers and earth-moving equipment before it can grow to its full dimensions expected by early January.

"A simple culvert under the road might be more practical", the troop offered meekly.

"Insubordination!" cried the General. Drop and give me forty pushups; and then get the dishes out of the dishwasher, soldier!"

I have to hurry with the KP. The foray to town begins in about an hour now. If we survive the operation and return unscathed, maybe I will have a picture for you at 20:00 hours. If the weblog is never updated beyond this point, you will know that I went down fighting, a valiant Army of One.

Posted by fred1st at December 15, 2002 05:55 AM
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