Uwharrie Camping/Trail Run

CORE’s Uwharrie November camping/trail run started off a bit rocky when an unfortunate traffic mishap that prevented Keith Holman, trip organizer, from attending the run. Keith encouraged the rest of us to proceed on, so with Paul in the lead we headed south down 29 for the ride to a weekend of adventure that would include camping, trail riding, friends, and lots of good-hearted fun.

But even the mighty Chevota fell victim to the clutches of the boulders.”

Those who participated in the weekend activities included:

  • Gil Campos and Sherrie Burns in the TJ (members)
  • Mike Vincenty and Donna Edwards in the YJ (members)
  • Paul Woscek in the nicely lifted S-10 Crewcab (member)
  • Don Lawson in the Rubicon (member)
  • Bob Weaver in also in a Rubicon (member)
  • Nick Hopman in the 73 Bronco
  • Brandon Wells and Amanda Lyons in the 99 Sonoma
  • Corey and Michelle Hopkins in the Jeep Cherokee
  • Uwharrie host Janet Becker
  • Trail guide, Bruce Hatton in the Tacoma, and
  • Terry “Chevota” Morfield in the Chevy/Toyota “thing”.

Our trip down to Uwharrie was uneventful, other than being a bit long. We left Haymarket, VA 10 AM, arrived in Uwharrie, NC around 5 PM. This included a few breaks and a late lunch in Greensboro, NC. We listened to the CB chatter on channel 19, and had a few laughs listening to Paul trying to disguise his voice on the CB as a hillbilly trucker so that he would not be found out to be a four-wheeler. He said something about truckers not liking four-wheelers.

On the way down, we learned that Paul’s weekend food staples consisted of 6 bags of pork rinds and 1 dozen eggs, but nothing to cook them with! Realizing that there may be a problem here, Paul wisely decided to stop at Subways and pick up a couple of 1 foot sub to hold him over the weekend.

Don didn’t fair much better. We learned that Don’s gourmet dining plans for the entire weekend comprised of 1 pound of ham, 1 pound of cheese, and 1 loaf of bread – this was for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Talk about traveling light.

We arrived at Uwharrie and made our way into the Arrow Head camp ground. This is one of several campgrounds on the park. This one has 50 camping sites, every one of them was taken. Here we were met by Janet, the Uwharrie campground host. She came by to introduce herself to the group and kindly offered to guide us through the more interesting trails in the park on Saturday.

While in camp we learn that Gil had another tire mishap. Everybody remember what happened on the last Rausch creek run? Ditto. While making their way through the park, a sharp piece of rock punctured the tire – another flat tire, even before we hit any trails!

The CORE group was at camp site 27. This was a large site with 3 picnic tables, 2 fire pits, and 2 electrical hook ups. The CORE camping group included Gil and Sherrie in the apartment tent (complete with wall-to-wall carpeting and electric heat), Mike and Donna (no heat), Paul (electric heat), and Don (no heat). Next door was site 26. Here we were joined by Brandon and Amanda, and Corey and Michelle. Those with electric heat were the envy of those without, especially considering that the temperature was dropping through the 30’s fast. Believe me, more than once did I consider performing a “midnight acquisition” of one of the electrical heating appliances.

Friday night the fire roared as we all huddled around trying to keep warm. Late in the evening we broke for bed. I suffered through the night with frozen feet, and kept thinking about those electric heaters.

Saturday morning we awoke to warmer temperatures. The skies were a bit overcast and I hoped that the rain would remain at bay. Paul managed to convince someone to cook his eggs, as he had no means to do so. After breakfast, Gil and Sherrie headed into town to see about getting the tire fixed so that it would be ready for the drive back the on Sunday. Bob joined us around 9:30. Soon thereafter, Janet and Bruce lead the way to the trails.

On the way we passed through one of the Uwharrie parking lots. It was completely packed. This was a Uwharrie “work weekend”. There was a large turn out of volunteers to help. It nice to see the spirit of cooperation that exists between the Uwharrie Forest Service and the four-wheel drive community to keep the park maintained for all to enjoy (unlike the contentious relationship between the four-wheel drive community and the FS at GWNF).

We paid the $5 riding fee and made our way to the first trail of the day, Rocky Mountain Loop. This trail is rated “difficult” according to the Uwharrie trail maps. This trail started off dry and dusty as most of the trails were that we traveled on throughout the day. From what I understand, when it rains in Uwharrie the trails turn into very slippery mud and even the easy trails become extremely difficult.

The most interesting part of this trail was a section that had a fairly steep climb with a small but very steep rock/dirt formation that had to be traversed (see photo album pictures #50-78). The terrain was such that it was impossible to keep four wheels planted on the ground. So unless you had lockers, it was near impossible to get over. Aided by front and rear lockers, Bruce, our trail guide, navigated the obstacle with no problem. Don showed us that even with a stock Rubi (locked front and rear) that this was passable. Paul got over it with his rear locked S-10. It did require that he gas it a bit to coax his truck up and over. With a big grin on his face, I heard “Detroits rule!” I gave it a try with my YJ, but after three failed attempts I resigned myself to the bypass. Speaking of bypasses, I found Uwharrie to be “bypass friendly”. If you ever got into a section of the trail that was too difficult, in almost all cases, there was an easier bypass that could be taken.

Soon we were into the rock playground (see photo album pictures #81-105). This is a large area of rocky terrain of various sizes on a moderate uphill slope. There were lots of ways to navigate this area of the trail, ranging from challenging to extremely challenging. It was here where Paul enjoyed tackling these obstacles from many different approaches pushing himself and his truck to the limit – and of course trying not to go over it! We all watched in amazement at Terry’s Chevota thing as his vehicle climbed over the large boulders. But even the mighty Chevota fell victim to the clutches of the boulders. At one point while attempting to climb a very large boulder, the Chevota’s left rear spring hanger was catching the top corner of the boulder and would not allow forward movement. As Terry tried to move forward, the Chevota’s rear swung right and eventually wedged truck against the boulder and a tree in the back (see pictures 82, 83, 87, 88, 89, and 91). Unable to move forward or backwards, out came the winch. In a matter of a few minutes the Chevota was free.

We pressed on and started making our way to the next trail, Daniel. We stopped for lunch in close proximity to the beginning of Daniel. By this time we were joined by Gil and Sherrie, just returning from the tire patching expedition. We enjoyed lunch and use the opportunity to cut up logs from fallen trees for firewood. I glanced at the Uwharrie tail map and made a mental note that Daniel is rated extremely difficult. I wondered what we were getting into. It turned out, traversing Daniel from the West is a general up hill climb offering lots of opportunities for challenging obstacles. The climb to the top was not the “extremely difficult” part of the trail; it was after you got to the top!

It was here where the trail goes into a steep and long decent to the lower parking lot. The ground was very dry and dusty. Rocks of various sizes littered the side of the hill. Gil and Terry initially went down and back up solo while the rest of the group watched (se photo album pictures #121-131). After they returned to the top of Daniel, Bruce joined them and offered shuttle service to anybody wishing a free ride to the lower parking lot and back up. I took advantage of the opportunity and rode shotgun with Bruce in the Tacoma. The descent was take slowly and carefully. I was a bit concerned about losing traction on the loose rocks and dusty trail. But soon was put at ease as Bruce and his Tacoma performed extremely well. When we got near the bottom, there was a VERY steep downward descent. Bruce explained that this location is the source of many vehicle rollovers. We navigated this section just fine. Brandon also took advantage of the ride down, and upon his return to top, he was jokingly ribbed about leaving deposits on the passenger seat.

We got the group turned around and headed back out the way we came in and headed for the next trails. We first covered Falls Dam then hooked up with Dutch John. Both are rated moderate. One memorable section of Dutch John is a long uphill climb. Nothing to difficult, but enough to get your heart pumping. Again if it had rained I don’t think that it would have been passable. Towards the end of Dutch John we encountered two sections of the trail covered with deep gooey mud. This was the “icing on the cake!” A great way to end the ride.

Saturday night was spent around the camp fire. Throughout the night, the country music played on the radio (as long as Don remembered to hand crank the radio and fiddle with the tuning knob), the fire provided warmth, we roasted marshmallows, and enjoyed each other company.

I noted a couple of memorable dialogue exchanges throughout the weekend.

It is at the end of the trail ride on Saturday we start our convoy back to the camp. It was late and getting dark. With Gil in the lead, we were proceeding onto the main rode. Gil gets on the CB and is telling everyone to turn onto the main road. Donna and myself are in the middle of the pack, and Paul is somewhere behind trailing a bit behind. A couple of seconds later we all hear Paul come across the CB, “.ok I just caught up to the group and pulled behind the white pickup.. wait I don’t think that this is the right group.” Next we hear Gil break in and very calmly say, “Paul.you need to pull out from behind those vehicles and keep going down the road.” We all roared with laughter when we heard this. This was one of those funny moments that had us all laughing throughout the weekend.

Let’s not forget that Sherrie also had some memorable quotes during the weekend. While Gil was cooking something on the open fire for dinner that evening, we all heard Sherrie exclaim, “Turn (garbled.) over I like it rare!”. We all figured she was talking about Gil – not the food!

During breakfast Sunday morning Paul notices that Sherrie is making coffee. Paul must have noticed something unusual as this dialog exchange was heard. Paul: “Where do you get your coffee?”. Sherrie: “At the grocery store.” I never did quite figure out what prompted that question.

Thanks to Janet and Bruce for being gracious hosts and for showing us around the park. Looking back on this ride, I reminisce about the fun we had with our friends. This is definitely one to do again.

Remember, “Life is short. Drive a 4×4!”

Trail report written by Mike Vincenty. Pictures courtesy of Paul Woscek, Gil Campos, Don Lawson, and Bob Weaver.

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