The Legend of Champy

Written by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes


It’s been a while and I’m sorry. We got home and immediately got too busy and tired to think about writing. Hopefully you read this because you’re still interested!


We finished our trip by educating the people of New England on the art of the Trapp Squat and how to spell Ohio. Then we moved on to experience the ancient creature known as Champy, The American Loch Ness Monster. Then we went back to the future on a gravity fed time machine.


On July 4th, we rolled up to Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with the Motorcycle Trapp Squad and did an OSU Alumni hike up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. Mt. Washington is part of the White Mountain section of the Appalachians. The local area is called The Presidential Range because many of the peaks are named after United States presidents. The peaks are magmatic intrusions created as the North American plate moved across a hotspot in the Earth. It was later exposed as the overlaying rock eroded away. Mt. Washington in particular is known to have “the most extreme weather in the world.” In 1934, the mountain held the record for having the highest measured wind speed on the surface of the earth at 231 mph, only to be surprised by a hurricane in 2009. Snow has been recorded at the summet on every day of the year. With the extreme weather, people still die every year while making attempts to summit the mountain. This mountain also has a famous cirque called Tuckerman’s Ravine which is the premier late-season backcountry skiing and party destination. Tucks, as it’s referred to by people “in the know,” is famous for its retention of snow so late into the spring/summer, it’s technical difficulty and the tent city apres ski environment. We reached the cloudy summit with 20 ft visibility, 80 mph winds and a wind chill of 25 degrees in July. Both times I’ve reached the summit of Mt. Washington, it has been the hardest hike I’ve experienced, so bring a map, leave before 9 a.m. and throw up an O-H-I-O with your crew for a summit pic.


After we saw 4th of July fireworks at the foot of Mt. Washington, we split from the Motorcycle Trap Squad and headed west to Lake Champlain. We were hoping to have a sighting of the local legend Champy: The Lake Champlain Monster as we crossed the VT/NY border on the ferry. However, just like how we missed the ferry on our last road trip by minutes, we failed to catch a glimpse of Champy. This lake used to be a part of the Atlantic after the ice sheets retreated. Then, as the crust rebounded, the lake got pushed up above sea level, got separated from the ocean and transitioned from a saltwater to a freshwater lake. Its history as part of the ocean has provided the area with fossils of aquatic dinosaurs leading to the Legend of Champy living in the lake since ancient times. The legend may have been started by people enjoying their lakeside retreats during the summer with some cognac or other libations in hand, but who am I to judge?


After making it to shore safely in New York, we made our way to the Adirondacks, home to the United States Army 10th Mountain Division. 2 billion years ago, this area was made up of ocean sediments, sandstone and shale until it slammed into the North American plate causing these sediments to be heavily metamorphosed. Then, as the European plate separated from the North American plate about 600 million years ago, massive faults formed in the area. These faults eroded out and formed the lakes that exist today. Eventually, these mountains eroded away and were submerged under the sea until about 10 million years ago when the area started to be uplifted, an activity that continues to this day. The source of the uplift is unknown. This fantastic geology produced a place that is a huge center for outdoors and mountain based sports. Lake Placid used this to their advantage to host both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The facilities constructed for the 1980 Olympics still stand and host tourists and the East Coast Olympic Development program. You can ski the same slope as the Downhill on Whiteface, stand atop the ski jumps and even try to hit 88 mph in a bobsled.


And thus concludes my late finale to the Geology of Sib Trip 2. I hope it was good, we definitely had a great ride. I thought this would be a short post but after traveling all over the country I realized that this region is definitely my favorite place I’ve ever been. I hope you have or get the chance to experience it yourself.

Until next time.

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