Fall Run – Shoe Creek

The official, if somewhat impromptu, CORE Fall Run 2002, was held on Saturday, November 2, 2002. I say impromptu, as the run was organized with only a week’s notice. Be that as it may, a small band of us “COREites” met at the Aunt Sara’s Pancake House on US 29 in Charlottesville, VA. at 8:30 am.

“All I could think of was- “Oh great!! Bob is going to scrape up his brand new Jeep on my watch!!””

In attendance were:

  • Gil Campos, Member, 1999 TJ
  • Sherrie Burns, Treasurer- with Gil
  • Missy (AKA Wheel Chock or THE MUTT)- with Gil and Sherrie
  • Bob Weaver, Member at Large- 2003 Jeep Rubicon!!!!!
  • Paul and Juliette Woscek, Members- 2001 S10 P/U
  • Mandibles- with Paul and Juliette

The purpose of the trip actually was twofold: 1.) Enjoy the Fall scenery, if any, and 2.) break in Bob Weaver’s brand new Jeep Rubicon. There was some grumbling about such an early meeting time, but in the end, everyone showed up ready to go. Bob arrived just in time to find the rest of us finishing up on a quick breakfast. We invited him to take his time and eat, but he declined (something about not wanting to leave the Rubicon unattended for too long in the parking lot).

Speaking of the Rubicon, we all spent some time before departing for the trail, dutifully eyeing Bob’s new 4×4, which you couldn’t miss-bright blue (to aid airborne search and rescue I think, LOL). Actually, the Rubicon represents a nice departure by Damler-Chrysler, from the standard Jeep 4×4, coming equipped with such trail amenities as dual Dana 44’s, front and rear lockers independently activated by the driver, and left and right side rocker panel protection.

We had a choice of running either the Shoe Creek Trail, in the Tye River area, or the Bald Mountain Jeep Trail, in the Big Levels area. I chose the Shoe Creek Trail as I thought it represented a better overall Fall viewing experience with a walk to Crab Tree Falls a possibility. This trail also seemed to offer enough of a challenge for Bob’s first venture out in the Rubicon, without exposing it to, as Paul calls them, “West Virginia Pin Striping.”

The Trip to the trailhead covered some 50 miles or so as we wound our way south on US 29 from Charlottesville, with a stop along the way for fuel, in Lovingston. Arriving somewhere around 11:00 am, we got our vehicles ready for the trail and were off.

I won’t dwell at length on the off road aspects of the Shoe Creek Trail. It’s a great trail for just getting away from it all. Not particularly difficult; but a bit hairy and scary if you try it in the rain as was the case during the first Shoe Creek trip on August 11, 2001. There are a number of good camping spots along the trail. Just be careful not to camp in the St Jerome Wilderness area which abuts the trail to the east, or on anyone’s private property- there are several tracts of private land along the trail’s length. There are a few rocks to be climbed, and one of them scared the _ell out of me when Bob attempted to go over it. He was doing great until for some reason, he slid backwards several feet. All I could think of was- “Oh great!! Bob is going to scrape up his brand new Jeep on my watch!!” But it didn’t happen. Suffice it to say we got the Rubicon wet and put just enough scrapes on the skid plate to say we had been off road.

As for Fall conditions, the weather was great! Temps had been below freezing during the night, but things warmed up to the upper 40’s by late afternoon. Visibility was great. The bright sun, leaves falling everywhere, and the abundance of water in the streams, the result of recent rains, made for some great photos (I think so anyway!) The preponderance of color in the forest was yellow, interspersed with some red here and there. Upon talking with several hikers at the trail’s summit, we found we had missed the height of color by one day. The wind had been strong the previous evening and had blown much of the foliage to the ground. I had to wonder also, if the lack of rain until late into the year had contributed to a lack of more diverse color.

We ate lunch in the parking lot at the top of the Crab Tree Falls hiking trail. Afterwards, we took a vote on whether to head over to the Bald Mountain Jeep Trail or hike down to see Crab Tree Falls. We didn’t really have time to do the Bald Mountain Trail, as we would have been there well after dark, although a night run in the future might be a lot of fun. Anyway, we opted for the hike to see the falls. The hike is an easy 1.8-mile round trip walk and the scenery made it well worth the effort.

Afterwards, it was out of the forest and back to civilization. A stop for dinner at the local Cracker Barrel right in Manassas made for 2 hours of good food and great conversation before we all parted for home. Many thanks to Paul and Juliette by the way, who covered the cost of the entire meal for all, and who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

A great day my friends!! Not a roll over, axle bending, paint scraping kind of trip, but one which filled me, and, I hope, my companions, with the beauty and richness of nature. And that, after all, was the purpose of the trip.

Enjoy the pics.

Trail written by Gil Campos. Pictures courtesy of Gil Campos and Paul and Woscek.

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