It’s the Fourth of July and a day to celebrate independence…independence from low-riding, bagged vehicles and other boulevard cruisers, in fact, independence from the boulevard itself!
Of course, our run for independence started out next to the drive through at Wendy’s in the Park Ridge Centre. For some reason, that place is never crowded early in the morning! Our goal this day was some exploring around the German River near Fulks Run and Broadway, VA.
“As we stood here contemplating the trail is where we found the monster killer snake.”
Joining in this trip were:
- Member Keith Holman with neighbor/guest Len Thompson in the Whitenblue Blazer
- Newlywed Guests Steve and Beth Washko in the 99 BlaZeR2
- Guests Paul Provencher with Teddy and Tomas in the 99 TJ
- Member Bob Jaeger in the lifted Ranger
- Members Bill and Debbie Haegele and Oliver in the 4DAPUPS Expy
- Member Mike Peterson in the lifted XJ
- Members Mike Kupec with 2 daughters Carolyn and Patricia in the new Expy
We headed out I-66 and down I-81 and then to VA SR 259 to eventually wind up in Fulks Run via Broadway. You know, the lights didn’t seem much brighter to me (If you’re old enough to get that reference…) Keith lived up to his “wrong way” rep by attempting to take the alternate route around town but he got back in line fairly quickly. A stop at the Exxon station had us and our vehicles fueled and provisioned for whatever our explorations might bring our way.
Our first road took us along Route 818, which eventually became FDR 87 where the blacktop ends. (Another musical reference, this one much newer.) At that point, the trail became a nice, scenic two rut road through the woods. The right hand side dropped off at various points to a stream well below us and the forest climbed to the left.
On this particular trip, I saw more wildlife than I have on any one trip in quite a while. Having Len in the shotgun seat helped in spotting them. We saw at least eight deer, including two spotted fawns which appeared to be by themselves, an owl and, oh yeah, a snake which must have been fifteen, uh ten?, would you believe 4-5 feet? But that was a bit later on.
We found a great spot for lunch alongside a stream with plenty of room for a turnout with lots of room for us to park. We had stopped here on our first trip as well. Really nice spot which could almost (but not quite) convince me that camping is a worthwhile idea.
We stopped once to remove a fallen tree. After spending a little time with a bow saw, we resorted to mechanical advantage and fastened a tow strap to move the offending wood. While messing with this, I discovered that my new grill guard had done its job by preventing the branch sticking through my grill from breaking out more than one plastic crossbar. (An alternate theory is that the grill guard aligned the branch so that it went through my grill rather than falling harmlessly away. I’ll stick with the first theory.) At any rate, the fins on the AC condensor were only bent rather than the tubes being punctured, so I’m ahead.
The trail continued on with a little stream crossing (see pictures) and we eventually came to another tree across the road. This one, although it didn’t appear familiar, had been seen by us before in our first foray into this part of the forest. It was preventing us from reaching the spot where several large fallen trees marked the end of the trail. As we stood here contemplating the trail is where we found the monster killer snake. No, wait, it was a black snake. It won’t hurt you. It was asleep when we got there. Okay, so this giant snake that we have just woken won’t hurt me? But he hasn’t had coffee yet. I’d hurt someone who woke me from my nap! Instead, after providing some amusement as we tried to convey via charades to Mrs. Haegele sitting safely ensconced in the confines of the Expy, he slithered away and was last seen climbing a tree where he could continue his nap undisturbed by us. WHAT! They climb trees!!
After this, we turned around and took the next fork in the trail to cross a little stream where kids and pup got some splash time in another little stream crossing. We decided that we would split up for those who wanted to hit pavement while the remainder of the group would explore a
little more along a trail rumored to end at a gate erected by one of two feuding private property owners.
The trail continued along with the stream and downhill side now shifted to our left. we eventually passed the Boy Scout camp along with several cars. As we passed through two other open gates we eventually found ourselves on the pavement at the intersection of 826 and 865.
We stopped for dinner shortly after the Fourth of July Parade had passed by and soon split to head our separate ways towards our individual activities. Len and I encountered heavy downpours as we passed Winchester. Bill and Debbie and Oliver made it home dry. Steve and Beth Washko and Mike Peterson indicated their vehicles had been washed before they hit home as well.
An exploratory run that provided no great adventure but did provide a scenic drive through the woods in pleasant company and an opportunity to declare independence from the blacktop world, even for just a while.
Trail report written by Keith Holman