Uwharrie Camping/Trail Run

After last year’s great weekend at Uwharrie National Forest in the Uwharrie Mountains of north central North Carolina, CORE decided to make an annual trip to Uwharrie a regular occurrence. This year, the CORE Uwharrie Spring Run was April 30-May 2, 2004. More than many places, the character of the OHV trails in Uwharrie vary widely with the weather conditions. Our trail riding group included members of the Carolina Trailblazers, EastCoastZR2.com, ZR2.com, S10Extremist.org and one unaffiliated participant. We are happy to report that the damage was limited to one torn sidewall with no other breakage, no injuries and no one left on the trails.

“…we occupied quite a bit of time a-slipping and a-sliding as we tried to get up.”

Attending this weekend were:

  • Chad Perry (CORE VP) with Dawn, Chris and Amber in the 97 TJ
  • Bob Weaver (CORE Member-at-large) with Leann, Sam and Ben in the 03 Rubicon
  • Paul Woscek and Julia Cabrera-Woscek (CORE members) in the 01 S-10 Crew Cab
  • Don Lawson (CORE member) in the 03 Rubicon
  • Keith Holman (CORE member) with Mark Hall (S10Extremist.org) in the 01 Blazer ZR2
  • Brandon Wells (EastCoastZR2.com) and Web ??? in the 01? GMC Sonoma Highrider
  • Rob Myers (ZR2.com) and Jen Todd in the S10 ZR2
  • Rob Sitze (Carolina Trailblazers) in the TJ
  • Susan Sitze (Carolina Trailblazers) in the XJ
  • Corey and Michele (Carolina Trailblazers) in the XJ
  • Bruce Hatton (Carolina Trailblazers) with Janet Becker (Arrowhead Campground hostess and multiple affiliations) in the Taco
  • John ?? (Guest) in the TJ

Coming from various directions, we stopped to buy our passes for the weekend on the way in and then converged on the Arrowhead campground on Friday afternoon and evening, pitched our tents, met a few new faces and got settled a bit.

Around 8:30, we packed up to see how some of the easier-rated trails had fared with the winter shutdown and maintenance. The evening run included a leisurely ride through Wolf Den, Sawmill, Slab Pile and a portion of the Rocky Mountain loop.

You just gotta love the night ride. The entire forest system takes on a different appearance and feel. The winter relaxation and maintenance of the trails had changed them some since parts of our group had last ridden them. The water bars, which had started high and steep last season and ended rough were in place this year with a gentler slope and a more-dispersed runoff area. Our “local expert” told us that the terrain had varied a little even since the beginning of the season only one month prior. On Friday night, we encountered a few puddles or a wet spot here and there, but the primary road surface characteristics were rocks and inclines. On Slagpile, we found one rock outcropping in the trailbed that had become more challenging than last year. The lead vehicle stopped to take a look and then decided to go around. Word passed along the line to take a look first as it had a steep (although not extremely long) drop on the backside. Chad decided to go over with little problem and then Don followed. Don managed to make it look more exciting though also getting over with little problem. The rest of the evening ride was relatively uneventful, just enjoying the view, conversations with passengers and some chatter on the CB. Rob M. discovered that his new electric fan, while great on the pavement, wasn’t really up to the task of riding the trails. The electrics rarely move the amount of air of the clutch types. GM built in plenty of cooling for the 4.3 but didn’t leave any extra capacity so reducing one part of the equation has a noticeable effect.

We got back to the campground around 10:00 or so. Chad, Dawn and the kids headed out to the all night Walmart in Biscoe to replace a few forgotten items. It would be several hours until their return. It seems the Lostone continues to earn his nickname. Unfortunately, my average is still holding and the night brought a light shower as well.

Saturday morning saw most of us up and stirring before 8:00. My old Navy buddy showed up to shoot the breeze before our planned 9:00-9:30 departure. Rob and Jen set off in a vain search of a higher capacity cooling fan. Bruce’s Shorttruck was exhibiting power steering problems but not so serious as to keep him off the trails. We were out of the campground by 10:00 minus Julia who was not feeling well and Leann and the boys who were off to visit relatives in the area for the day.

As we entered the Dickey Bell trailhead, Janet and Bruce remembered that John was still in the campground. Oops. They turned around to go retrieve him and said they would meet us at the intersection at the other end of the trail.

Dickey Bell was wet enough to prevent dust but the moisture had only penetrated a short way. Some of the rocky outcroppings had some mud around them thought which made for a bit more challenge when you hit one at the same pace as an uphill climb. We also had a couple of lengthy delays along the trail to allow the faster moving ATVs and motorcycles to pass and also change a flat tire when a root jumped out and bit Chad’s Mickey T. Luckily the spare was for the same direction. The stops along the way also allowed us to do what all good four wheelers do, namely to pickup some of the litter that has already begun to accumulate in spots along the way.

We finally reached the intersection just a little past noon to find Bruce, Janet and John waiting for us. We stopped there for lunch and a bit of conversation. While we were eating, Paul headed back to the campground to check on Julia and Chad took off in search of a tire repair. Julia was doing okay but decided to stay put and enjoy the peace of the campground and Chad found tire repair at Galway’s.

As we started up Falls Dam, the rains hit hard. We met a small group headed down who told us that the hill climb ahead of us was slick. We waited a while for the last of them to come down. Headed down hill, there was a spot that tried to pull you out into the woods. It proved to be something of an understatement as we occupied quite a bit of time a-slipping and a-sliding as we tried to get up.

There was just a thin layer of slickery (like that word?) stuff on top that kept the tires (which became a ball) from grabbing into anything. The sides kept you from getting too far off the center but the successful approach for many was just to keep the RPMs up and the wheels spinning.

Keith and Mark were the first of our group up. When we lost momentum, we would let it roll back to just after the lower water bar and then head back up. Steering had little effect but the sides would push you back towards the center of the trail generally.

One by one, each came up in their own way. Some with more aggressive tires did so with less noise and with a bit more flair but all had some type of traction aid in the rear diff. Brandon and Web tried several times and then backed down. Finally, all but Brandon and Web in the Highrider and John in the open/open Wrangler had come to the top. Brandon and Web decided to go for it again and with much cheering and a lot of narrow pedal, they were at the top.

John’s Wrangler was next. The combination of open diffs (front left wheel and right rear were spinning); street tires and the shorter wheelbase (when it started to turn, it didn’t reach both sides to get bumped back towards the center of the trail) kept it from being a successful run. There was some discussion of winching him up to the top but that changed to go around and meeting us at Kodak Rock, we were to head to the top and stop, John and Bruce and Janet were to go around on the gravel and meet us from the bottom. There was a line coming up from the bottom on some more slcikery stuff so Bruce and Janet and John turned and headed in for the day.

We watched around the rocks for a while. Rob was testing new Jeep setup before his upcoming Paragon trip and tried several different approaches where he gave himself and his Jeep a workout before deciding he’d seen enough and pulled cable. Among other things, he decided the new IROCs’ sidewalls were too stiff. I guess a little more working of them will need to happen.

Paul decided to head down (when we thought we would head on down afterwards). His new rock rails proved that they are fully up to the task of protecting the truck and fully supporting its weight. When we ultimately decided to leave from whence we came, he got to come back but used the somewhat slick “bypass” that we had seen challenging quite a few others as we waited.

Chad and family also came up from the lower side but he used the line which had once been the bypass but was now much roughened up from those days.

We gathered all at the top of the hill and headed back in the direction of the gravel roads. One more down hill section provided a bit more challenge for part of our group. There was a fallen tree with root laying on the trailside, parallel to the trail. As one went by, the root snagged and pushed the trunk into the trail.. It apparently got pushed aside and then back into the trail more than once as it seemed every second had to deal with it.

We got to the gravel and turned left to head back for camp. Within seconds of the last one leaving the trail, the rains came again. Several went towards the Outpost for shopping and sat it out as the heaviest rain of the day hit.

Rob and Jen decided to pack it in and head back to Ft. Bragg rather than face another night in the rain.

We dodged the deluges and swapped true stories under the tarps and around the fire as the evening wore on.

Sunday morning, the rain had stopped and we very briefly discussed the notion of hitting the trails one more time but packed up instead as the sun came out bright for the first time of the weekend.

Another great weekend wheelin’ in Uwharrie.

Happy Trails!

Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman and Paul Woscek.

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