As we go into a new year, and also into the winter sports season, it’s a good time to repeat my (almost) ill-fated cross-country ski adventure.

It was the winter of 1977-78, and we had just moved into our new house in Hebron Township, Potter County. Sally and I had done a little cross country skiing. When we discovered that our contractor and his wife also were skiers, we arranged to get together and do a short trip.

We planned to ski from Barnett’s Farm on Route 49 into the Woodcock Creek valley, and on down to the North Hollow Road at Seven Bridges. Most of the route was farmland, old woods road and old RR grade, easy going.

We set a date for this trek, but when the day arrived, we checked the temperature. It was reading 10 below zero. Well, we thought that was a little cool to do a ski trip, so we agreed that if and when it got up to zero we would go.

It eventually did rise to zero so off we went, leaving one vehicle at Seven Bridges and taking the other to the Barnett Farm. Leaving that vehicle at the farm (with their permission), we skied south on a farm road, across a large field and headed into Woodcock Creek.

There we turned westerly on an old woods road, which brought us to the old Boy Scout Camp at Camp Moxie. The buildings were all gone by then, so not much to see — but there is a lot of history in that area.

It was getting along about lunchtime by then, and we came prepared with hot dogs and the fixings, and hot chocolate. So we stopped in the grove of big pines, slipped out of our skis and began gathering some fuel for a small fire.

We got the thing all laid up nicely and reached for some matches. I found that I didn’t have any, so around the circle we went. The other guy? Nope, no matches. His wife? Nope, none either. Surely Sal would have some? But we came up empty (and I had convinced her to quit smoking).

So, we had a cold dog and luckily some hot chocolate; it was still really cold and our fingers and toes were beginning to feel it.

Back on with the skis and down the old RR grade we went to the waiting vehicle, and grateful we hadn’t planned a much longer trip.

I guess the moral of the story would be if you are going on any backwoods jaunts, hiking or skiing, be sure to take matches, a lighter, flint and steel, something with which to start a fire.

Also take along some fire-starter materials, either store-bought or a bag of birch bark or dryer lint, both of which weigh about nothing. In this case it only meant a cold (hot) dog, but under different circumstances it could be much more serious.

Best wishes to all from the trail club for a great New Year.

Bill Boyd is a member of the Susquehannock Trail Club. He can be reached at