Higher! Harder! Rougher!
Sometimes we get worked into a near-frenzy over higher, harder and rougher when it comes to our wheelin’. But every now and then, we settle down and remember that one of the reasons we enjoy this sport is the pursuit of quieter, less crowded, more beautiful.
That was the objective and result this past weekend when CORE and some old friends decided to explore Dunkle Hollow and the area behind the Harrisonburg Reservoir again.
” Sometimes we get worked into a near-frenzy over higher, harder and rougher when it comes to our wheelin’. But every now and then, we settle down and remember that one of the reasons we enjoy this sport is the pursuit of quieter, less crowded, more beautiful.”
Along for the ride were:
- Keith Holman, CORE, 99 Blazer (the inaugural run)
- Gil Campos and Missy, CORE, TJ
- Mike and Donna Vincenty, YJ
- Bill and Debbie Haegele and Oliver and Pete, Guests, Expedition
(For those joining our story late, Missy, Oliver and Pete are frequent trail companions and each have four leg drive).
We started out the morning at the rest area on I-66 jsut west of Centreville. It is duly noted that the Vincentys were there first, followed by the Haegeles, then Keith and eventually Gil.
He had some story regarding his GPS and Fairfax County parkway and riding north when the sign said south or something like that. We all agreed we should call his cell to find where he was which would have been a great idea had any of us thought to bring his number with us! At any rate, we were on our way shortly after 9:00.
The forecast called for some clouds and a 30% chance of rain. As we crossed Manassas Run, the sun began to shine a little more and we knew a good day was in store.
After a leisurely trip down I-81 (hey, it’s not my fault, my speedo said 70!) we took the ride through historic downtown Harrisonburg and made our way out to Rawley Springs and McDorman’s store, a favorite last stop with gas, groceries and indoor plumbing.
We left there and headed on out 33 and started the twisty road up the mountain towards West Virginia, turning left and going back down to the reservoir. A stop there allowed time to transform all the canine passiengers into wet dogs and to disconnect and lock the Jeeps.
We saw a couple of other vehicles, no doubt belonging to fisher folk but pretty much had the woods to ourselves. The initial dusty conditions settled down a bit as we worked our way back into the darkness (at least that’s what the GM engineers who designed the settings on the auto on headlights thought, we thought it was shade).
The concrete spillway over one of the mountain streams feeding the reservoir was dry as were several of the other stream crossings we would see. Signs of the ongoing drought. Along the way, there are several turnouts for camping spots mostly.
The chatter on the CBs was light as each enjoyed the peace of the forest or the tunes of the moment. We had initially planned to lunch on Flagpole Knob but, as we were on a flexible schedule, decided to enjoy a favorite clearing lower on the mountain instead.
Lunch time provided an opportunity to watch the dogs play and to catch up on the goings on of friends. We saw pictures of the Galaxy (the Ford kind) and heard of some of its adventures. We also heard that the real reason behind the move to Urbana may have been a larger garage for a classic Camaro and Mustang. Also did some catching up on other folks as well. (For point of clarification, we didn’t gossip about you if you weren’t there, but there may have been a reason your ears were burning!) We also had a lively discussion on the merits of jogging and camping.
Some other four wheelers came back by where we were to splash in the mud puddles but they quickly departed. As we prepared to head out, we noticed a rather unusual looking plant among the ferns which none of us could identify. We agreed not to disturb it although we did all take a closer look. Mike may have looked a little too closely, as the pictures attest, but he recovered eventually.
Onward up the mountain. Dunkle Hollow provides some very pretty scenery and some interesting switchbacks along the way.
As we reached Flagpole Knob, we discovered the others who had been playing in the mud down the mountain letting their vehicles cool while they enjoyed the view. It was beginning to spit rain and the view included some fog/cloud banks but still was quite good. The pups had a chance to run and we were off again, next stop Meadow Knob. The road to Meadow Knob includes a steep downhill section with some loose rocks and dirt. Not a challenge for 4wd, but the classic cars discussed earlier would not have been the appropriate vehicles either. A little more oohing and aahing at Meadow Knob and time to note a pretty good sized hole about the size of a Jeep (as measured by Gil).
Out of the clearing, we headed over towards the Stone Camp Road with discussions along the way of prior trips where snow, cold and rain made the conditions very different than they were today.
We stopped by the old stone camphouse for Gil to exercise the Jeep, all the others declined.
There is one spot along Stone Camp where someone has decided a bypass (probably unauthorised) was in order. The obstacle is a few large rocks in the sharp curve as you head up a little rise. The rocks, bumps and dips are placed so as to require your full attention but not as to give any real trouble to the 4x4s.
By now it’s beginning to rain a steady but light shower. The remaining streambed on the way to pavement, a former favorite paly spot for dogs, was dry as well.
As we reached the intersection of the first paved roads, we stopped for reconnecting and preparations for a suggested wet t-shirt contest (the rain was coming down a bit harder). The contest never came about.
We made our way into town where the Vincentys split off for a night on the town up Northern VA way. The remainder of our party decided to sup at the Southern Cookin’ restaurant in New Market. They still have great fried chicken! From there we parted ways for our different destinations with promises to do it again sometime.
A great day with great folks.
Pavement is still a fine example of waste in Government spending.
Remember to Tread Lightly and pick up after yourself because your momma won’t do it for you!
Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman.