CORE The Shoe Creek Trip took place on Saturday, February 23, 2002. Keith Holman led a group who met at the Wendy’s in Manassas, and traveled down to Charlottesville, Va., meeting Gil and Sherrie, and I believe Chad Perry, at the Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House at routes 29 and the 250 bypass.
Coming down with Keith was Len (sorry Len, I didn’t get your last name.) in Keith’s S10 Blazer, Mike Peterson in his XJ, Aaron Hall, with his Xterra, and Paul Woscek in his S10 Crew Cab. Gil and Sherrie were in their TJ and Chad Perry was in his TJ.
“We took the challenge on several nice sections of rock and hill on the way to the top.”
It was a beautiful day and everyone enjoyed the easy drive. We wound our way South from Aunt Sarah’s via routes US 29, VA 56, 778, and several small side roads, arriving at the Shoe Creek Trail Head about 50 miles south of Charlottesville. The group stopped en-route in the town of Lovingston, for fuel, eats and a few other things. We arrived at the trailhead around 11:45am
The entrance to the Shoe Creek Trail is kind of neat, as getting to it involves traveling on successively smaller roads where the scenery is spectacular, until it appears that we are literally pulling up into someone’s front yard. Then, all of a sudden the gravel road disappears into the side of a hill and we are there.
A short way into the trail we stopped to allow everyone to get their vehicles ready. There was some airing down and disconnecting of sway and torsion bars. Gil led the ride in his ’99 TJ, with Sherrie taking over the driving at this point, and the Wheel Chock doing her usual supervising. I think Sherrie is getting experience so she can drive in the next all ladies run up at Paragon
Well, we were finally off and running (crawling) and had just made the second stream crossing when Chad decided to challenge a large boulder which formed a choke point on the trail. Although Chad gave it a valiant effort, needless to say the boulder won, leaving Chad and his TJ wedged in, blocking the trail. Chad was up to the task however, and with the use of a come-a-long and liberal supervision from all (except Len who preferred to take in nature’s beauty at the creek side), Chad soon had himself free. Not to be outdone by a boulder, Chad promptly drove up over another rock lifting his TJ up off the ground in the right rear, and leaving himself teetering dangerously. I think this was a sobering experience as Chad quickly called for re-enforcements to hold his backside steady while he slowly back off.
The Shoe Creek Trail is pretty narrow for the first several miles, with sharp drop offs as you move up the mountain following Shoe Creek below. I soon found out what it was like to be a “passenger” on a trail ride. Out of the blue, Sherrie announced that she was going to drive up onto the high side of the narrow trail, and she immediately feigned movement in that direction. I think I let out a big yell and a “DON’T” as Sherrie broke out in loud laugh at having scarred the P..ss out of me. LOL
We were amazed at discovering a number of camping sites loaded with tents and vehicles and other signs of camping activity along the way. We never saw a single camper though and all came to the conclusion that either they were out hiking or all drunk and sleeping it off.
We took the challenge on several nice sections of rock and hill on the way to the top. Mike Peterson made it look easy with his new setup, and Paul Woscek made it handily. Keith also gave it a try. I believe he wanted to show that Paul W.’s making the hill in an S10 P/U was no fluke! LOL. Of course, we all new he’d make it! Aaron with his X Terra made it up, but suffered a dented right running board and mounting brackets. It’s never fun to see damage to anyone’s rig. However, in an effort to cheer Aaron up, the group treated the incident with due respect and the “deceased” running board was wrapped in white “linen” and returned for burial atop Aaron’s vehicle. Keith was seen shaking his head, pondering the group’s morbid treatment of Aaron’s running board.
The remaining trip to the top was uneventful with the exception of Keith’s “Mysterious” inability toget up and over a couple of obstacles. He later confessed that he had been shifting between 4hi and 2hi instead of 4low. Oh well, reminded me of the time I couldn’t figure out why my TJ was steering wildly on another trip. only to find out later that I had somehow enaged the front locker and left it on.
We ate lunch at the top in the parking lot for the Crab Tree Falls walking trail. It was decided that rather than walk the trail, we would head over to the Big Levels area close by and run the Bald Eagle Trail. En-route, Aaron suffered a flat tire. Chad had all the equipment to make short work of the repair and gaveAaron a hand. The piece of steel in Aaron’s tire was huge and unfortunately probably ruined his tire. It was not Aaron’s day for sure.
Well, we finally made it to FR42 and endured 5 or 6 miles of choking dust only to find that the Forest Service had closed the Bald Eagle Trail leading up into the Big Levels area. Apparently the closure had just occurred, as there were obvious signs that the trail had been used very recently. We had been looking forward to running this trail, as it is very good. I will be contacting the Forest Service to find out what the story is on the closure. With no other options, we made our way back to civilization, where Keith and others stopped for a bite to eat in Charlottesville before heading home.
Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Gil Campos and Aaron Hall.