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.

Meteorites and Mountains

Note from Cat: I’m a little behind on posts since the post trip relaxation has truly kicked in. Evan will claim it’s because I hate him that these posts are late, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes 

Quick Vocabulary:

Laccolith: when a pluton is created and makes the overlaying rock bulge upward
The remainder of our sojourn through Canada was spent visiting cities so this post is going to be short and sweet. It does involve engaging topics such as meteors, mountains and magma.

We entered Sudbury. I’m not sure if the depressed vibe was a result of the rain or because the Timmy Ho’s we stopped at for breakfast was entirely comprised of homeless people. Either way, it had the classic post-economic collapse of blue collar towns, an environment we are familiar with being from Pittsburgh. Despite all of this, Sudbury is the “Nickel Capital of the World.” The city is in the middle of a giant crater that was created by an asteroid impact about 2 billion years ago. It is the second largest confirmed meteor impact on earth. For comparison, the third biggest impact is the one in Mexico that killed off the dinosaurs. The rocks in this area are mostly gneiss and fragmented granite. The gneiss was granite from the Canadian Shield that metamorphosed into gneiss as a result of the asteroid impact. The fractured granite are the pieces of the Canadian Shield that were broken up and thrown into the sky as a result of the meteor impact. With the Canadian Shield’s rich minerals and the meteor materials, Sudbury was primed to be a booming mining town. It’s title of “Nickel Capital of the World” after the Big Nickel Company was founded in the area and became the largest producer of nickel in the world. Regardless how it seems, Big Nickel is actually the name of the company and not just what conspiracy theorists call the nickel industry in the town.

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Fin (Big Trip Days 45-56)

This is the “I had a case of the home-stretch lazies and didn’t write posts” post. So, here’s the truncated version of the last leg of our Big Trip. The gear review post will be coming soon, so stay updated if you’re interested in how things like our stove, tent and shoes worked out.

Day 43 and 44:

We popped into a family friend’s house in the ‘burbs of Toronto after I accidentally turned on the car alarm in the middle of the Canadian highway (you can’t win them all). From that base point, we took the train into the city for a day to catch the Hockey Hall of Fame and traipse around the lake shore. On our last evening in the ‘burbs, we got crafty and painted commemorative mugs (see below for the exclusive designs).

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A Mixture of Young and Old

Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes

Quick Vocabulary:

Lithified: the process of hardening into a rock

Canadian shield: billion year old rock in the northern part of America made up of mostly granite

Rift valley: place where the Continental Plate started separating
Traveling from the ranches and mountains of Wyoming and the trashy tourist towns in the Black Hills to the flat, buggy and forested emptiness of the Canadian Shield.

Everywhere we went on this leg provided a wide range of geology experiences as well as some other not so positive experiences.

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