On Saturday morning I awoke to an overcast sky. It had rained for several days in a row and the weather forecaster was calling for flash floods again today with severe afternoon thunderstorms. Of course, I decided to continue the plans to wheel, as I was not going to let Mother Nature ruin the day with CORE in the George Washington National Forest outside of Harrisonburg VA.
“We got out of our rigs to look at this rock and no one wanted to tackle this today.”
Along for the adventure were the following brave souls:
- Bob Weaver, Jeep Rubicon, CORE
- Alex Hinson & Guests, S10 Blazer, CORE
- Laura, Chris, and Daniel
- Gary Owens & Guest, K5 Blazer, CORE
- Keith Holman, S10 Blazer, CORE
- Paul Woscek, S10 PU Modified, CORE
- Jose Avila, Toyota Land Cruiser, CORE
- Dave Fowler, Wrangler, CORE
We all met at the Wendy’s in Manassas. While waiting for everyone to arrive we were looking at all the rigs when Paul remembered that he did not have his wallet and left us to go get it and then to meet us on the way out I-66. The plan for today was to do Gauley Ridge Road, Second Mountain Trail, and end the Day on Dictum Ridge.
After some quick introductions, checking out of each others rigs, and a brief driver meeting to discuss the day’s plans we were off on our adventure. So off we went down I-66 and I-81 to the Sheetz. We all got gas and food for the trail at the Sheetz. Heading out to the trail we went through some very scenic farm country at the base of the mountains. I am sure a few folks were wondering if we were going to make it to the trail head, but I knew how to get there, even if it was not the shortest route.
We stopped at the Forest Service Gate to air down and disconnect as needed. The Gauley Ridge trail today was a fairly easy climb up with mostly scenic views all the way up to Second Mountain. Once we reached the top at the intersection with Second Mountain we stopped for lunch. Paul was asking over the CB when we would have a lunch break, and I thought that this was as good as any, only to find out that Paul had already eaten on the trail. Oh well, the rest of us were hungry by now anyway.
While on Gauley Ridge Road I noticed a lot of trash along the trail. At one point along the trail there was an abundance of trash that we all noticed. We all stopped so that we could make a trash pick up stop and stretch our legs. We were able to get one full size trash bag and several smaller grocery bags full of trash within a few minutes worth of work. I think that everyone on the ride pitched in to help and we all did our part to help the Forest out. (Good job and thanks to all the helpers) I am very disappointed that people would deface our public lands in this way; but I am glad that I am a member of an organization that helps keep the Forests and trails clean. CORE could possibly adopt a trail in the GW to help keep clean as it was evident that the Forest could use our help.
After lunch we tackled Second Mountain trail. We took this trail all the way down to the Forest Service boundary next to Rt. 33 and learned that the gate was open. Land owners are not keen on the traffic on their road from Second Mountain to Rt. 33 so we made a U-turn and did the climb back up from the other direction. As we came to the intersection of Second Mountain and Dictum Ridge, the sky opened up as predicted with impressive lighting and thunder all around us. We stayed for several minutes in the gravel parking lot before continuing on.
Dictum Trail is narrower than most roads in the GWNF and made for a nice ride. As we came to the end of the trail, there is a rock obstacle that has about a 4 foot drop off a big bolder and is off-camber to boot. We got out of our rigs to look at this rock and no one wanted to tackle this today. Did I mention that is was still raining? As we investigated further we found a by-pass off to the side. First, I am not sure if it is actually part of the trail and legal, and it looked almost as difficult as the main route and it was still pouring rain, so we once again made a U-turn and came up the Mountain to the parking lot. By the time we got back to the parking lot the rain had let up to only a drizzle. Here in the parking lot is a ramp to load ATV with and a few of our group used it as a play toy to see how much flex they had going up it with one side of their vehicle.
By this time I think that most people were tired and ready to head back to home. However, a few of us decided to head into Harrisonburg for dinner at a steak house. A long but fun day on the trails of the GWNF was had by all.
Trail report written by Bob Weaver. Pictures courtesy of Bob Weaver.