I hosted a pre-run for the Third Annual Xpedition Expedition on Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5 in the Dry River Ranger District of GWNF. Saturday was also an official CORE trail ride to the same area.
” I finally got almost turned around when a 4″ diameter tree got wedged against my right front bumper. I couldn’t back up as I kept rocking on two wheels.”
In attendance were:
- Bill Haegele, CORE, TAXE, Friday and Saturday
- Mike Wolfe, TAXE, Friday and Saturday
- Tom Cody, TAXE, Friday and Saturday
- Bob Jaeger, guest, Friday
- Keith Holman, CORE, Saturday
- Mike Vincenty, CORE, Saturday
Mike Wolfe, Tom Cody, Bob Jaeger and I met in Harrisonburg at a little strip shopping center next to the Comfort Inn at I-81/US 33. After a pleasant lunch at a little Italian restaurant there, we headed for the trails. We ran up Union Springs Road to Stone Camp Road. At the intersection of Union Springs and Stone camp, we found that the Forest Service had apparently done a land swap with the private land owners there. Previously, you turned left off of Union Springs Road onto Stone Camp at the old burned out camp. Union Springs went straight on to private property. The burned out camp was also labeled private property. Now there is a third tine in the fork to the far right. This road now goes to the private property (it is gated). The middle fork takes you to an entrance to the old burned out camp. The camp now appears to be Forest Service property (it is surrounded by red marks on the trees denoting the forest boundary and the private property markers are gone). There is an open field and a road with plenty of parking. It looks like a great place to camp or just picnic. There is even a serviceable brick grill there. The entrance to Stone Camp Road is still on the far left. There continues to be no access to the burned out camp from Stone Camp Road. Union Springs Road is gated just past the burned out camp.
We headed up Stone Camp Road. There were several very rough and rocky places with very loose shale rock. Several places are very tight between trees making for a challenge for the Expeditions. It started to cloud over and drizzle halfway up the trail. The hill climbs on Stone Camp are a lot of fun. Nothing terribly challenging, but for a newcomer they can be quite intimidating. At Meadow Knob it was a bit brisk and overcast. From there we continued up the mountain to Flag Pole Knob. Some more loose, rocky hill climbs that can be a little tricky if you are not paying attention. Flag Pole Knob felt a little warmer then Meadow Knob but there was quite a bit of thunder up there. Rain clouds were dancing all around below us in the valleys. No rain up where we were though.
We then headed down Dunkle Hollow Road. A very pretty, scenic road. A few rough spots and some tight switch backs as the road works its way down the mountain. We stopped at one of the clearings where the XE traditionally stops for lunch by the stream. Very pretty.
Once back on the road we decided to head on over to the Dry River crossing. There we turned off before we got to the City of Harrisonburg reservoir to explore some of the trails that run along the backside of the Dry River. There are a whole maze of trails that go down to the river on both sides. These go to various camping and fishing sites along the river. The trail that we found ran for quite a ways down the river until it came out to another river crossing. It also continued on our side but we did not have time to explore it. There were not a lot of rocks but there was a lot of mud, off camber spots, and for the Expeditions, a lot of tight squeezes between trees. It was a blast.
After that, Bob Jaeger headed for home while Mike Wolfe, Tom Cody and I headed for West Virginia and Fox’s Pizza Den/Brandywine Motel for the night. Very interesting place, Fox’s Pizza Den. The food was not bad. The people were very friendly. The majority of the women that came into the place were very young, tattooed, and/or pregnant! In varying combinations. It was worth it to just sit and watch. There wasn’t much to do after dinner, so we just sat outside our rooms and shot the shit until it got too cold.
Saturday morning we met up with Keith Holman and Mike Vincenty (making Saturday an official CORE trip) at McDorman’s. From there we headed up Second Mountain. Our first obstacle on the trail was a land owner at the very bottom of the road spreading fresh gravel on his section of the road. He had his back to us as we approached and I was all set for a hassle as we pulled up. Instead he turned around, stepped out of our way, waived and said good morning! I waved and wished him a good morning back. He waived and said hello to everyone in our group as we passed. Hopefully we all waived back. WOW!
Second Mountain was its normal dry, hot, dusty self. Very little mud in the mud holes. Nothing special.
From there we went on to Old Long Run Road. Much cooler in the shade. The stream crossings were as fun as usual. It looked like some of he Jeep Jamboree participants from a few weeks ago had stacked some rocks at a couple of crossings and not removed them. We left them also as those crossings are getting rather eroded so it is probably for the best. The washout that I lead the repair trip on as part of OCC looks as solid as ever. No sign of erosion at all. The side hill at the bottom of the hill is very eroded but still looks much worse than it really is. All of us made it down and up without any problems.
As it was still early we decided to do some further exploration of the trail behind the Dry River. We followed it past the other river crossing and found that it followed a tributary of the river past a really nice camp site, before looping back onto itself just before the last river crossing. In that loop were several very tight, off camber spots between trees. At one point, Mike Wolfe got his Expedition on two diagonal wheels, teetering back and fourth. Took him a few tries to get out. All in all, the trail was a lot of fun.
We then ran over to Kephart Run and did the right hand fork. The two stream crossings were quite chewed up and presented a bit of a challenge. They were off camber and very rocky. They had to be hit just right with a fair amount of momentum to carry you over. We finally made it with a lot of banging and scraping. We made it to the end of the trail, but I missed the turn around spot and continued on to where a large tree blocks the trail. I had to have help turning around on a narrow shelf road (always fun in an Expedition!). I finally got almost turned around when a 4″ diameter tree got wedged against my right front bumper. I couldn’t back up as I kept rocking on two wheels. I finally said “screw the bumper” and pushed forward as Keith and the Mikes pulled back on the tree. I finally managed to bull my way around straight just as it started to rain. We decided it was time to leave. The rocks on the stream crossings were nice and slippery now and is was like taking a nose dive into the stream to get across.
On the way out, Mike Vincenty and I stopped to walk down to the stream to look at the old F-150 that was washed away in the stream. No bodies. It must have been caught in a flood. It was at that point that Keith discovered a broken heater hose connection. We nursed his truck out of the woods and into town where he decided to leave it.
Mike Wolfe headed home to Pennsylvania while Keith, Mike Vincenty and I went to Luigi’s for pizza. Fortunately, Keith was able to come back Sunday and repair his truck.
In all, it was a great trip. The weather turned out not to be as bad as it could have been, the trails were great, and the company was better. What more could you ask for?
Trail report written by Bill and Deb Haegele and Betsy and Oliver (The Fourwheeling Puppies)