CORE members have developed an appreciation of the unique opportunity provided in the OHV trails at the Uwharrie National Forest, near Troy NC. Roughly 20 miles of 4 wheel drive trail, shared with ATVs and dirtbikes, with levels of difficulty ranging from easy to extremely difficult are tied together to allow a full weekend of riding where you’re never very far from a paved or gravel road should you decide to head back to camp or to the store. We try to make it down that way at least a couple of times per year. We’ve been there often enough that it’s a very rare occasion when we don’t join up with several other drivers that are more local than we are.
“When you’re in a hurry, it seems that the fates conspire to throw every delay possible at you and this was no exception.”
This particular trip was the weekend after Veterans’ Day, November 12-14. Attending were CORE members:
- Keith Holman, 01 BlaZeR2
- Bob Weaver, 03 Rubicon
- Dave Dorrin, 03 Rubicon
- John Blackmore, 94 S-10
- Jeremy Slone, 04 Taco Crew
- Mark Hall, 92 Ranger
- Bruce Hatton, Taco “Shortruck”
Other drivers we met there included:
Rather than convoying, we each arrived Friday afternoon and evening at the Arrowhead campground in the Badin Lake Recreation area where we met our favorite Forest Service campground hostess, Janet Becker. While Janet makes the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had in a campground, the special treatment puts Holiday Inn to shame. The facilities at Arrowhead are impressive as well with paved parking areas, electrical hookups, a dump station, and a large and impressive bath house with plenty of hot water, even when it’s not so warm outside.
Rain had been there during the day Friday but we had high hopes that it had passed. We were right. Once again the rain-curse of the Holman tent has been overcome although it was plenty cold enough to make up for it! When the campsite was finally all set up, there were orange-colored electrical snakes headed to several of the tents. Dave told us he had never camped with an electric heater before but we may have made a convert. We also had plenty of firewood as a stockpile had been laid in for us on previous excursions. By Saturday night, there was a couple of blazing infernos that had us wondering about toning it down. Bob elected to stay with relatives in Winston-Salem, Bruce had the wisdom to wait it out in his own bed at home and Jeremy and family didn’t arrive until Saturday.
Saturday morning, Bob showed up promptly at 9:00 for the riding and we were off. We decided to take it easy at first and build up to the more difficult spots. John left the S10 at camp due to slick tires and an unreliable front axle engagement. As is always the case at Uwharrie, recent rains upped the difficulty a notch in spots where the wind and sun had not dried things up. We started on the Slabpile trail and had seen a broken hub on the Ranger when the play got a bit too rambunctious in an easier spot on the trail. This was just further proof that it is not always the overall trail difficulty where you have to watch out. Frequently, the simpler portions can bite you when the circumstances align. So Mark shifted back to 2wd and just kept on riding.
We turned onto Rocky Mountain loop and slid down to the gravel Forest Road. Mark and John headed back towards pavement and possible replacement parts with plans to meet up again around lunch with us after we had run the Dickey Bell trail. Our lead, Keith, took the wrong turn and we eventually found ourselves at the top of Daniel facing a long line of folks trying to come up.
Sometimes we find that breakage happens in hard spots when someone is doing something ill-advised. There was a LandRover that was having great difficulty making it up the hill so someone at the top in a Jeep Wrangler (was it a YJ?) changed position to string out the cable and bring him on up. As it turns out, the Rover was heavier (who would have thunk it?) and the unanchored Jeep began moving down the hill vice the Rover moving up. So Jeep driver decides to back uphill while pulling cable. Bouncy, bouncy! The loud pop we heard next was the breaking of the forward spring shackle. By this time, we had been sufficiently entertained and, recognizing the error of our ways, turned around to arrive at the designated meeting spot.
When you’re in a hurry, it seems that the fates conspire to throw every delay possible at you and this was no exception. It seemed that every turn and obstacle had someone coming the other way who just couldn’t quite grasp the concept of conquering the obstacle and then allowing others to make progress over the same obstacle or past you. We eventually arrived at the designated spot to meet John and Mark (now in the 94 S10) and Jeremy. Murphy was still active and John discovered the embedded piece of gravel that was barely keeping air in his tire. No problem, we’ll just slap on the spare, right? Wrong. Spare tires are a necessity. John had elected to leave his in the garage in Richmond rather than risk it being stolen.
Bob was prepared with a patch kit (Yay Bob!) and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, a patch stayed in long enough to get John back into town for a more permanent solution.
We headed off to run the Falls Dam trail and by the time we were done there, it was late in the day and thoughts of empty stomachs and correcting that were in our heads, so back to the campgrounds!
After we got back to camp, we loaded up and headed into Troy for dinner at Zeno’s. Zeno’s is this great Italian restaurant with scrumptious food, large servings and great pricing. We all stuffed ourselves over some pleasant conversation.
Bob bade us good night and headed off to Winston-Salem. Dave decided to call it a night. John, Keith and Bruce’s vehicles headed back out for the trails to run Dutch John in the dark. We made it to the bottom of the large hill when John’s front driveshaft decided to let go at the CV joint (Can you say “Not having a good weekend”?) and we decided it would be easier to nurse him along by going back rather than further along the trail. After another round of tire plugs disappearing, we eventually made it back to camp.
Lacking interest and enough fully functional vehicles to make a safe and reasonable attempt of it on Sunday, we all loaded up and headed for home late Sunday morning.
Despite the cold and a few problems, we enjoyed the trip and will certainly include Uwharrie NF on our future schedules. Won’t you come along?
Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman.