We have a long running tradition in the club to take a trip off road somewhere on the 1st. We tend to keep this very local and easy so that everyone, no matter their ride, would be able to participate. With that in mind we were going to travel Peter’s Mill and Taskers Gap. But due to the government shutdown happening at the time, those trails were closed. Instead we opted to head a little more south to GWNF and make the trek up to Flagpole Knob.
Along for the trip were:
- Alex Hinson & Amber Leigh — Red JK
- Leigh Ah Brown & Taylor Louzon — Green JK
- Jendra Rambharos — Orange JK
- Andy Meltzer — Toyota FJ
- Dawn Keslar — Toyota 4runner
- Adam Tweedie — Nissan Xterra
- Mike & Jake O’Grady — Nissan Xterra
We started off with amazing weather that lasted all day. Mild temperatures and clear skies. It did rain the prior few days so everything was still a bit muddy. We met up at the local Sheetz in Harrisonburg and at 10:30 we rolled out. Thanks to the poorly timed traffic lights downtown we got a bit separated but quickly regrouped and made it to the trail head.
We headed down to the lake for our air down. There is a clearing next to the lake with a boat ramp that makes for a good spot to air down and go over the plan for the trail. Got everyone lined up and Mike took tail lead to help me make sure everyone was good.
The run up was very scenic and ease going. We were happy to see all of the creek crossings with a good bit of water instead of being dry beds like the last few trips. We also found a few fun spots along the way that I’d call out for the group letting them know to go right or left for what. Except one spot where I got my directions backwards. I had started the challenge spot on the right and was thinking to tell everyone go left for the easy. Somewhere between my brain and my mount the thought got crossed and I said “go left for hard”. Leigh Ah had already started to follow me in her stock jeep when I realized my error and corrected myself. But she made it through like a trooper. With my corrected directions everyone was able to navigate without issues.
Nothing too bad till the top where we came across an interesting sighting of a Chrysler Sebring on the side of the trail. This poor car somehow made it to the top of the mountain and then left for the elements. No idea if it was hot or just abandoned but still a sad sight to see. Not for the car, but for the woods. It was bad enough we saw random beer cans and trash left at campsites along the way, but this was just awful. Not easy to get a tow truck up there to remove it.
Once past this we quickly came to the clearing at the peak where we met another off road club out for a New Years run. We broke out for lunch and admiration of the view. I’ve been up there dozens of times and the view still hasn’t gotten old. We did have a heck of a wind at the top that would send shivers down your back.
Despite the wind, I decided to throw the drone up for an even better view of our groups and the surrounding mountains. And what a view it was. I’m looking forward to going there again soon on a less windy day for some better flying. The drone was doing all it could to fight the gusts so I wasn’t able to fly for long.
After our lunch break we had a quick chat about our return options. The trail from here over to Meadow Knob has gotten a lot more technical over the years and we had several first-time off roaders with us today and I wanted to make sure they had a good time. We all agreed we’d take a gander at it provided we get spotters and can ensure a safe path for each vehicle.
That first section had been heavily washed out from the rain with a lot of exposed steps.
We didn’t get too far. Came to the fork in the road leading to Meadow Knob and immediately stopped. That first section had been heavily washed out from the rain with a lot of exposed steps. We all got out to analyze the trail and see if it was passable by everyone. The seasoned among us were ready to tackle this and agreed there was a path for stock vehicles that required a lot of navigation we all opted to not go this way because the idea of today was for an easy drive. And we did have a small time crunch. Also, we found a broken running board on the side of the trail from a previous attempter which made the decision final to not go this way.
With that decided, we backed up and came back down the same path we took up. Met a few folks heading up and got to meet someone out in their brand new JK. So new it still had the paper tags. Not a bad way to break in a new Jeep. Otherwise the ride was just as scenic going down as it was going up. We made it back to the staging area next to the lake to start airing up.
But we’ll be heading back in the near future to try that challenging path. We made it back down in good time and aired up in the same place we started.