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Ascent of Quirauk Mountain on 2017-05-15

Climber: Pat Wymore

Others in Party:Mr. Wymore
Date:Monday, May 15, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Quirauk Mountain
    Location:USA-Maryland
    Elevation:2140 ft / 652 m

Ascent Trip Report

Quirauk Mountain, MD.

—This TR was actually written by my son Jobe, but I’m posting for others future reference.

I about had my soul destroyed when I dialed up the number listed for Kelly Swanger, only to have someone on the other line tell me they had no idea what I was talking about when it came to access for Quirauk Mountain. They promptly hung up on me.

For you not familiar with Quirauk Mountain, here's a little rundown. Not only is Quirauk the highest point in Washington County, MD, but it also sits atop all other MD CoHPs in prominence and to be more precise, more prominent than any other peak in the whole State of MD. For us that chase EPIC, it's mandatory. But along with Quirauk being mandatory, so is getting access arranged in advance which is only granted by Kelly Swanger.

After a couple of days of mulling over my options which included reaching out to anybody who had advice to give, placing a few phone calls into the surrounding towns to see if they knew anything and even reaching out to a military installation a few miles north I decided to start all over again and call 717-878-3736 as so many others had done before, including me. This second call brought success.

Now, Quirauk Mountain has a little feature atop that is built to withstand assault. Assault by attackers, assault by the innocent and us CoHPers, most who aren't so innocent. The top is guarded by several machine gun toting military personnel and parts of the uppermost summit are adorned with razor wire. The military personnel are serious in their job of guarding the secrets of Quirauk. Only Kelly Swanger can sway them into softening their grasp and fortunately she was still around when I attempted call number two. I have no idea of what they're protecting up there but my goal of visiting its true summit didn't include needing to know. I was there for one reason and one reason only.

My second call had another individual answer who instantly knew what I was talking about but said Ms. Swanger (pronounced like a swan) "was away at a training course in D.C" and asked if it could wait. I still had about two weeks till my arrival so I said "sure" and let out a deep sigh of relief after hanging up.

The following week I called again, she answered and I introduced myself and delivered my intent, her response quick. She said "no problem" and asked me to email her the names of everyone who be showing up along with the vehicle we'd be showing up in. I said sure, thanked her, hung up and let out another sigh of relief. For more than one reason Lamaze breathing is good to know.

It was that easy and several days later on May 15th, four of us in two cars made our way up the paved road towards the top. After passing High Rock, which is a graffitied scenic lookout 1/2 way up, the pavement got a bit crumbly but still more than navigable as you passed the warning, do not proceed signs. Immediately after we ran into a soldier who was driving down to position himself by High Rock for the day so not to allow anybody to drive up as we just had. We explained our presence, he understood and was aware we were coming so let us pass. Shortly after we approached the top and several soldiers came out - we introduced ourselves. After a short bit of chitchat which included them wanting to know how long we intended to stay plus instructing us how we were to take no pictures they obliged and let us "hikers" proceed in our vehicles to a parking area located just beyond their outpost.

Chris Gilsdorf had given me a heads up as to where to locate the highest "rocks" that were just a short jaunt into the open woods. The weather was cool, the ticks were still in bed since it was only 8AM so all was good. We made rapid time and before we knew it we were off regrouping at High Rock trying not to look too suspicious as the stationed soldier kept us in his crosshairs.

My advice is to get this one sooner rather than later. Kelly Swanger, Secretary to the Commander, may one day leave her position and as in a few other peaks, access could be lost and along with it your chance at EPIC? Time will tell. At the moment all that stands between you and Quirauk is desire, hidden soldiers and hidden ticks. DEET can repel the latter, you the former, but only Kelly can keep the safety from being tripped on those automatic machine guns.
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