Seven years ago, an over-served bartender handed Kip what looked like a treasure map sketched out on a wrinkled cocktail napkin. The cryptic drawing, the guy solemnly swore, would direct the holder to what he called his "secret swimmin' hole," described as a water-filled granite quarry in rural West Virginia, known only to a few other lucky souls.
Kip and said bartender had spent the previous hour swapping travel stories, which focused mostly on the best places in the world to jump off high cliffs into water (one of Kip's favorite past times). Somehow, Kip charmed said bartender into giving up a closely-held secret - the location of the quarry a mere two hours from DC, with a boulder to launch from into the water 60 feet below.
And so, our story begins...
The first trip out, we never found the place. And we looked hard. The next time, still cursing the bartender, we re-studied the drawing, trekking down a railroad track, traversing an overgrown field and sweating through thick underbrush until we stumbled onto what looked like a rabbit trail. We followed it until the narrow path opened up into a small clearing, blocked off by thick vines on one side and a massive boulder on the other. As we stood upright and creeped forward, we saw an opening that slowly widened as we got closer. As we walked up to what became a cliff, we looked out across a green pool shrouded by trees and vines and shouldered by steep granite and we knew we’d found the spot.
But this story isn’t so much about the quarry itself. It’s actually about how garbage can ruin one of the most unique places on the planet.
It seems that quite a few people had found this secret spot before us, and sadly, they didn’t live by the “leave no trace” mentality.
So for the past few years, Kip and his friends Adam, Alex, and Nick have made an annual pilgrimage to the quarry, primarily to jump from the cliffs, swing from the rope swing and try to capture a youth that’s not that far removed from any of them (at least mentally). But when they’re done playing, they spend some quality time filling garbage bags until the place looks, at least, a little less discovered. It lets everyone give back a little, which is what it’s all about, really. That and jumping off cliffs and living to tell about it.
Big thanks to Adam, Alex and Nick for joining the clean up! We're looking forward to the next one!