A small group of members and guests of the Capital Off Road Enthusiast 4×4 Club made an easy run out to Blakey Ridge Road and the Old Rapidan Road in Madison County, Virginia on Saturday, November 17. This was followed by an all you can eat steak dinner at Graves’ Mountain Lodge in Syria Virginia.
“I was watching the rock, and Deb was hanging out the window (NOT her favorite thing to do on the downhill side of the mountain) watching the right rear tire”
Those who attended included:
- Bill and Deb Haegele and Betsy and Oliver (The Fourwheeling Puppies) (Ford Expedition) (CORE Member)
- Mike Keane (Chevy S-10 Blazer) (CORE Member)
- Mike and Deb Kupec and family (Early Ford Bronco) (CORE Member)
- Miles and Marsha Oliver (Suzuki Samurai) (CORE Member)
- Aaron Hall and Mike Tapp (Nissan Xterra) (Guest)
- Bob and LeAnn Weaver and Sam and Ben (Ford Bronco) (Guest)
Blakey Ridge Road is a mild little trail in Madison County Virginia the provides access to a state Forestry Service fire watch tower and FAA radio site (you can hike up to them) as well as hunter access to some private and state hunting grounds along the route. The road is mostly rocky dirt with some stinky mud, a few tight switchbacks and a couple of steep climbs/decents. Nothing too terrible.
The most difficult part is near the end of the trail. At that point, the trail runs along the sideslope of the mountain where a washout has taken a section of the trail away right by a large rock. A long wheelbase, full-size truck like the Expedition has to be very careful not to take a misstep here as the result would be a tumble several hundred feet down the mountain. The trick is to drive as straight and far forward as the rock wall will allow, and then just as the left front fender is about to kiss rock, turn hard right. The tail will swing round, and the right rear tire will just skirt the edge of the washout. I was watching the rock, and Deb was hanging out the window (NOT her favorite thing to do on the downhill side of the mountain) watching the right rear tire. We made it through with just a slight dip at the wash. The other, smaller vehicles had no problems at all.
Before we got to the end, we came across a small Ford Festiva (?) bouncing along the rocky road. He looked like he didn’t quite know what or where he was going. Miles commented over the radio that “it sorta bursts your bubble” to see something like that on this road. My comment was “yeah, but figure what he is thinking when he saw all these big tucks coming down the road at him.” He did stop and ask one of our crew what the road ahead was like. When told, he shrugged and said he would take his chances. He sorta looked a little wild eyed, plus he had his family with him. Oh, well. I’ve seen stranger things on these mountain roads.
At the intersection of Blakey Ridge Road and Old Rapidan Road, we found that Miles and Mike Kupec were in need of some gas. Bob had a siphon, so we spent the next half hour trying to siphon some gas out of various trucks. The S-10’s tank was too low to the ground to get a good draw. Both the Expedition and Xterra had an anti-siphon valve in the filler neck (good news for Expedition owners). Finally we were able to get enough gas out of Bob Weaver’s Bronco to make everyone happy.
After Blakey Ridge Road, we ran part way up the Old Rapidan Road. This road is mostly dirt, but has two fun stream crossings (kept open in case the bridges wash out as they have done several times over the years) where the Rapidan River passes through the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area (VA State hunting grounds).
After hitting the pavement (in the dark), we headed on to Graves’ Mountain Lodge in Syria Virginia for our steak dinner. We got there about an hour early so we spent some time gathered around the fireplace in the Lodge’s family room where it was quite toasty. After stuffing ourselves with multiple helpings of steak, potatoes, corn pudding, green beans, beets, salad, baked apples, and more, we gathered on the Lodge’s front porch and watched the children and Pups romp for a while in the chilly country air. We soon decided we had had enough fresh air and climbed back into our trucks for the trip home.
It was a great (but brisk) day for wheeling. We’ll be back again, especially when Graves’ opens again in the Spring.
Trail report written by Bill and Deb Haegele and Betsy and Oliver (The Fourwheeling Puppies)