Wow, what a fun time we had in the Virginia part of the George Washington National Forest this Saturday the 23rd of July. I was betting that we would not have any snow on this run as the weather was going to be in the 90’s. We started the journey meeting at the Wendys in Manassas at 8:00am. I was the last to arrive as I was trying to fight with my printer and print out waivers for today’s trail ride. To my surprise, when I arrived all the paper work was completed and after a brief driver meeting to let everyone know the plan of attack for today we were on our way shortly after 8:00.
” Now if I were smart I would have gotten out of my Jeep and used a stick to see how much mud was actually in the hole…”
Those along for the ride included:
- Bob Weaver – Rubicon, CORE Alex Petrovsky – Wrangler TJ, Guest
- Dan Williams – Rubicon, Guest
- Jason Grogg – Rubicon, CORE
- Loc Pham – Wrangler TJ, CORE
- Jose’ Avila – Toyota 4Runner, CORE
- Gary Hallman and son Kyle – S-10 PU, Guest
- Jeff Kimmel nd Vincent (Wild Man) Weikle – S-10 PU, Guest
As you can see we had quite a gathering for this ride in the middle of summer. We had a lot of Male testosterone as we were missing all of the ladies on this run.
Our first stop was the Sheets in Harrisonburg VA . After everyone gassed up, stretched, and bought lunch items we were off. Our fearless leader lead the charge up the mountain only to discover that I had picked the wrong roadway and about a thousand yards into the forest we saw the closed trail signs and we made the circle and headed back down to Rt. 33. (Hey, we got to meet a nice little old lady with a toddler wondering why all these vehicles were going up a dead end road). The Second time around our leader (me) found the right entrance to the trail. Humm, I wonder if that is how the trail got its name. Looking back I saw the correct sign for the trail and continued on with more confidence this time that I had picked the right trail head.
The first part of the trail is loose gravel with driveways branching off in each direction. Posted signs are on both sides of the drive going up the hill so I made sure that we stayed on the trail and got up to the forest service gate which was open to my relief. This meant that we would be able to do the trail heading in a northerly direction.
This first part of the trail is the most difficult. We were climbing up on rocks and going up and over some big rock ledges and making several switch backs on the climb to the top of the mountain. I believe that everyone was in 4 low for this portion of the trail. After reaching a level spot near the top part of the climb we stopped to let folks air down and disconnect if they wished. Gary said something about how glad he was to have changed his shocks only to discover that he was running with more air in his tires than the sidewalls called for. I think he was even happier when he was able to air down to the normal air pressure for his tires.
The trail levels off a little as we follow a ridge line for a mile or so. We could not see much to either side as the foliage was pretty thick along this part of the trail.
We all made it up to the Giant Mud Hole Area. This is a place along the trail that has a nice little “big” drop into a mud hole and then several yards before coming out the other end. Actually this is a series of mud holes that seems to be placed here on purpose. There is a bypass if you do not wish to take this challenge. You will have to see the pictures to understand this obstacle better. Now if I were smart I would have gotten out of my Jeep and used a stick to see how much mud was actually in the hole as I had joked with Keith about this on the last trail ride, but alas I am not too smart and forged on dropping down into the mud and pushing water and mud all around until I got out on the other side playing U-boat captain without such a “silly” stick test. I would like to think I inspired others as each took their turn in the mud.
Things were going real well until Gary wanted to try the mud with his long wheel base S-10. He ended up hi centering his rig on the drop off going into the hole with the front wheels spinning in the mud hole and his rear wheels sticking straight up in the air. I remember a few jokes about how we could all see his new rear shocks now. Anyway, Jason was still on the starting side as he had not yet gone through and we strapped Gary to Jason and pulled him back to safety. Gary then elected to take the by-pass. A smart move as the long wheelbase did not help him on this obstacle.
We stopped for lunch at the parking lot adjacent to Dictum Ridge Trail and Second Mountain Trail. We shared the parking lot with a few folks that were taking their bikes out for a spin. Other than that we only saw one other vehicle on the trail the whole day. After a brief stop we all saddled up and headed out for the last part of Second Mountain Trail.
It was still early in the afternoon and everyone wanted to continue so we crossed Long Run Road and headed down/up Gauley Ridge Trail. This trail is not as rocky or as technically challenging as Second Mountain but still gets you a fair amount of trail riding off the beaten path. About half way down this trail you come to a fork in which you have to decide where you want to go. I opted for the longer ride and made a left turn to continue on a trail that I will call Dull Hunt Hallow Road (240). At the end of this trail is the Little Dry River that we crossed and came up to (87) aka 818. We made a left here and continued on to the start of the German River Trail (232) about a mile or so up (87). Along (87) is where we got a lot of dust coming up from the gravel road that made it almost impossible to see the vehicle in front of you. A call over the CB to turn on lights helped with this safety issue. Gary started making jokes about being in the rear and getting all our dust (what can I say here). Anyway, no one was immune to the dust and all will have a fun job cleaning the interior of our rigs.
At the start of the German River trail you can take a left or a right and I of course picked the right only to go several hundred yards before running into a gate across the road. A U turn and short trip back to take the left branch got us back on track and heading down the German river trail and finally back to 818. A quick stop here was made to air up and reconnect and then to head for home. A fun time was had by all and we covered a lot of ground today.
Trail report written by Bob Weaver. Pictures courtesy of Jason Grogg, Bob Weaver, Jose Avila, and Alex Petrovsky.