“Ever been to a real hunt camp”? These are the typically the first words uttered by Evan Price (Co-owner of Spruce Cabin Camp) to new ROVERS club members.
Evan’s camp is situated on approx. 2,000 private acres in the Pennsylvania Pocono Mountains. The rustic cabin has been the base of operations for multiple generations of hunters that belong to the Spruce Cabin club. Out of hunt season the cabin lies empty so Evan graciously hosts the ROVERS club event.
Purposely timed to be over a weekend early in the New Year, it is hoped that the event will be graced with liberal amounts of the white stuff…snow!
This year we have been on a climatic roller coaster. We have spring like weather one week, followed by record breaking cold weather produced by the Polar Vortex.
As the event approached the odds of us having “drivable” snow started to dwindle. Living at near sea level the roads and surrounding land was soaked by melting snow and ice. So imagine my delight as my Defender 110 crawled up the higher elevations, the roads still clear but snow and ice still visible through the trees.
As I pulled onto the short approach road to a locked gate, it was immediately obvious that driving into the cabin would be a challenge. The normally graded dirt road was snow covered and the compacted tire tracks had a layer of black ice.
Leaning forward I thrust the Defender into “low box” and engaged diff lock. All the wheels/tires were going to need all the assistance they could have to maintain momentum, steering and braking.
Evan and a few early arrivals were waiting at the locked gate and watched as the Defender gently skated to a halt. (Early arrivals are tasked with preparing the cabin for the main group, by lighting the gas and open fires, firing up the generator and getting water online).
The cabin is located 4 miles in the woods the only access being an off-road trails that is shared with several other hunt camps.
As we pulled forward Brett Boulin’s Discovery II jumped the tramlines and ended up 90 degrees to the trail. This was to happen multiple times on the way in. The only concern being that the trees tend to be closer to the trail the deeper we ventured into the woods.
With our residency claim established and the various elementary services operational, (water, light and heat) we ventured back out to meet the main group at the Pour House bar and grill in Canadensis.
Almost immediately the parking lot seemingly became a single marque…. Land Rovers. The event was fully booked with 26 members coming from as far a filed as Tennessee, (Tom Bache – Defender 90), West Virginia (John Bradshaw – LR3) and Maryland (Bill Bettridge – Discovery 1). We were also joined by new members Dustin Kelsey/Stephanie Snavely, Kevin and Jen McCarley and Caleb Bailey/CJ Donnelly all sporting their Discovery II’s.
JLR’s metal was well represented with vehicles through the ages, including a Series 88”, Discovery 1 and II, Range Rover Classic, Defender and LR3.
The cabin is set up with a few dormitory style bunkrooms. One named, “Intermediate Care Unit, the other “Assisted Living Facility”. We simply named them, Boys and Girls.
Saturday morning saw an army of cooks preparing a mountain of pancakes, bowls of scrambled eggs and an endless stream of bacon. The finishing touch being several rounds of bacon fried bread. A smorgasbord of comfort food!
Having our fill with about a month’s worth of calories all being washed down with gallons of coffee some industrialist souls ventured outside to fit tire chains. The temperature was a chilly 16 degrees.
One by one the vehicles were coaxed into starting and the parking area soon resembled a large stage with smoke machines. Working our way through the trees appeared effortless at first as the convoy of vehicles snaked down the relatively flat trail.
However, once the trail started rising, the slick long uphill gradients were no match for the vehicles still with naked rubber. Snow, ice and rubber eventually parting company. Snow chains were the order of the day and those who had foresight to fit them earlier in the day proceeded up the trail unhindered, leaving the others to fit chains and catch up.
Having reached Monument Rock we had lunch around an open fire, overlooking the stunning view of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and parts of New York.
Shortly after the group splintered into smaller groups, some individuals returning to the cabin for an early “happy hour”, whilst others ventured off in search of challenging trails.
Sunday morning arrived all too soon and the expected snow showers soon had members thinking of road conditions for their trek home.
Vehicle damage for the weekend was limited to the two “built for purpose” Discovery II’s of Randy Williams and Kevin Barnes. Between them they clocked up an impressive list of several broken side windows, an Alpine window, two door mirrors and shredding a 40” tire.
Back at the access road the group removed and stowed their tire chains and said their good-byes. The roads were clear and as we descended in elevation so the snow retreated. Was it a dream or had we spent a few days in a private wintery wonderland? No one will ever know, as whatever happens at the cabin, stays at the cabin!