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  1. #1
    Registered User shelterbuilder's Avatar
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    Default Rausch Gap Shelter Restoration Project

    Hey, folks, I know that Tenn. Viking has posted this on the home page, but I'd like to take this opportunity to personally invite everyone to join the Blue Mtn. Eagle Climbing Club this summer as we attempt to restore the Rausch Gap Shelter to its former glory. Some of you may remember that, in years past, this shelter had been nicknamed "the Halfway Hilton", but over the last 40 years, exposure to the elements has caused structural damage that must be repaired this year. This is an involved project with many different phases, so that even if you're not a master carpenter or log builder, there's still PLENTY to do.

    This site is on Pa. State Game Lands #211, so all applicable Game Commission regulations apply. While we do not yet have permission for overnight camping at the site, we DO have permission to drive in and out, which will save us a lot of time and effort. (There are several FREE "primitive" campsites on the nearby Greenland tract of State Forest land which can be used for overnight use, but these need to be reserved at the District Forester's Office in Cressona, Pa. before you use them.)

    For more information, contact Shelterbuilder through a PM here, or log on to BMECC's website www.bmecc.org to check the upcoming schedule and for alternate contact information.

    Hope to see you out there!
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning how to dance in the rain!

  2. #2
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    I had the pleasure of eating lunch at the Halfway Hilton in 1974, about 4 years after the shelter was built it sounds like. Here's part of my entry from April 8, 1974:

    We pushed all morning to have lunch at Rausch Gap LT, the “Halfway Hilton” as it is known to thru-hikers. This lean-to had everything: a smooth, raised concrete floor, space for firewood, a huge stone fireplace with a chimney, a slate patio, a rain gutter flowing from the hill behind the fireplace that was the spring, and even a skylight! We would have loved to stay, but our schedule didn’t permit any tardiness.
    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  3. #3
    Registered User Toolshed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerosene View Post
    I had the pleasure of eating lunch at the Halfway Hilton in 1974, about 4 years after the shelter was built it sounds like. Here's part of my entry from April 8, 1974:

    We pushed all morning to have lunch at Rausch Gap LT, the “Halfway Hilton” as it is known to thru-hikers. This lean-to had everything: a smooth, raised concrete floor, space for firewood, a huge stone fireplace with a chimney, a slate patio, a rain gutter flowing from the hill behind the fireplace that was the spring, and even a skylight! We would have loved to stay, but our schedule didn’t permit any tardiness.
    Did you ever wonder what just a little bit of tardiness would have done to you back in '74?
    .....Someday, like many others who joined WB in the early years, I may dry up and dissapear....

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    Did you ever wonder what just a little bit of tardiness would have done to you back in '74?
    I bet he has, but you can't relive the past, so you just push on (can't be tardy, of course ).
    Relax is such a wonderful word. I should do a little more of it myself.
    As I live, declares the Lord God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn back from his way and live. Ezekiel 33:11

  5. #5
    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toolshed View Post
    Did you ever wonder what just a little bit of tardiness would have done to you back in '74?
    All the time. That's one of the drawbacks of being a section hiker. Back then, on only our second section hike, we really weren't very comfortable with ways to adjust our schedule. In the end, we ended up learning how the hard way...

    One of our group thought he could use a windbreaker in lieu of a poncho. A chilling rain (early April in mid-Pennsylvania) eventually forced him to wrap his down sleeping bag around him to get warm. We hitched a ride down into Pine Grove and checked into a cheap motel to get warm and dry. Due to this and a couple of other incidents, our trip ended at Lehigh Gap instead of DWG. I ended up completing that section with my Mom a few years later.

    Here is a poor photo of the Halfway Hilton from that hike 37 years ago:

    GA←↕→ME: 1973 to 2014

  6. #6

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    that shot shows the tree table in its glory days. i remember so well i can smell it. rauch gap was one of those remote, exstra freash smelling places with the good spring and the cold shelter, it was a rough night there for folks without the warm clothes and bag. ive slept there after posteholeing to get there. its just a really good shelter. the skylight was so high tech back then. saint anthonys wilderness has allways been special. its quiet and far from things loud. the arangement of the shelters edge and the tree table and the stone walls and patio and chiminy created a climbing game we played in rain or mud. you had to be able to jump to the table and then all around without touching the ground. it used to flood so so deep it was almost a pool. its good to hear folks calling it by its real name. so many times i get a blank look from hikers when i say halfway hilton.
    matthewski

  7. #7
    Registered User shelterbuilder's Avatar
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    Default Great photo!!!!

    I have some of the old shelter photos in my personal files, and have seen others in the club's archives (which include the designer's drawings, files, and photos), but it's always nice to see other people's pictures. I always find some little detail or two that I haven't seen before - and this photo is no exception.

    The table in this photo was the original one - an old cable-spool that was donated by someone. It was wooden, and gradually disintegrated over time and was replaced by a 2-piece stainless steel table..which probably won't stand up to a repeat performance of Matty's game!

    Also, if you look at the front purlin, you'll see that it isn't straight! The original builder wanted the shelter to have an extremely rustic look. He used a purlin that was bowed, so that the front roof would look like it had been there for ages! It was replaced in the mid-90's, after it was determined that the bend in the purlin was getting worse.

    Fast-forward to last Sunday...we removed the front section of the roof and the front purlin, and started trying to cut out the rotted sections of wall logs that support the front purlin. What a sorry mess! We removed over 30" of log sections and still couldn't lose the rotted wood. So, the project is "on hold" for now, while we try to figure out what we'll do next. The shelter is still usable, since the rear section of the roof remains in place, although the shelter looks a bit ragged.

    Oh, yeah...we also started exposing the original stone "patio"! It was buried under about 30 years' worth of dirt and debris.
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning how to dance in the rain!

  8. #8

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    i think the answer is o move the shelter or the spring. its the direct line and wet area that has rotted the oversized logs. they were oversized for just that reason possibly. there is a hardship in trying to move the shelter. it sits on the only flat area able to be carved below the old road. i belive the spring can be diverted with a wall. and the shelter can be rebuilt with all new logs , a few feet further south from the spring. then its just a matter of preserving the original charm, witch is done by makeing the tree table twice the size to reach as close to the new shelter as possible. those logs were rotting from the get go and the shelter was oriented to the wind and rain. if it was turnned to face away from the trail and spring, looking downhill, it would be warmer. none of the original logs are saveable. the issue isnt the level f rot at this time, they could last alot longer, the issue is that dollars are becomeing more valuable and we need a permenent fix. the issues allways were, warmth and dryness. rauch never had them. we can fix this.
    matthewski

  9. #9
    Registered User shelterbuilder's Avatar
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    Default Project update - wanna help us move forward ???

    During the last 2 weeks, I've been racing around like crazy, trying to figure out a new direction in which to take this project (now that the original project isn't possible). I keep coming back to the belief that I can't really improve on the ORIGINAL CONCEPT behind this shelter (although there ARE certain features that need to be changed in order to protect the structure from the weather)...so I've decided to simply replace the damaged logs (really, they were used utility poles that were old when we got them) with new logs, but keep the rest of the structure FUNDAMENTALLY UNCHANGED except for a wider roof.

    I've contacted the local Dirstict Forester, who has agreed to let us purchase 2 dozen Larch trees which we will turn into "replacement logs"...but we've gotta get 'em cut down first!! So....

    If anyone would like to come out and help us to get this process started, we'd appreciate the extra help. We're going to get together on Saturday, June 25th in the Game Lands parking lot off of Gold Mine Rd. (between Pa. Rt. 443 and the town of Tower City) around 9 AM (the State Forest tract is about 9 miles from the parking lot). If you're proficient in felling, that's great, but after the trees are felled, they need to be limbed and cut to length, and THIS work can be done with just a bow saw. We may even have to move some of the trees after they're prepped (to get them out of the "felling zone"), and that'll mean using log carriers and teams of 6 to 10. Bring lunch, water, a chainsaw (and/or bow saw) and gas oil and tools FOR YOUR SAW, work gloves...and all appropriate safety gear for chainsaw work. If you have any other log tools (log carriers, peevees, etc.), bring 'em along. PM me here for more info or for detailed directions.

    One word of warning -- felling trees is a dangerous occupation (possibly the most dangerous work out there). As anyone who has had any certification training knows, trees don't always fall the way that the sawyer thinks they will, so the felling zone is NO place for fooling around. ("No fooling while felling") Please leave the kids, the pets, and the booze at home, because once the tree starts to fall, it doesn't stop until it hits the ground...and anyone in the way goes with it.

    Thanks.
    Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass - it's about learning how to dance in the rain!

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