What a great weekend. Cherie and I just had the best time, in a beautiful area, with good people, some good wheeling, and some good hard work. As we drove home we couldn’t believe just how great of a weekend our short trip to Potomac had been!
Our group, including non-CORE folks, was:
- Adam & Robert Tweedie – Silver Xterra
- Andrew & Cherie Taylor – Silver Xterra
- Emily Stevens & Richard – Red Renegade
- Paul Woscek – Silver Power Wagon
- Preston & Pam Stevens – Green XJ
- Sergey & Katya Revashov – White JKU
- Shannon & Kelly Emery – Green LX450
- Tom & Deb Taylor – White Bronco
Many of you know or know of Preston Stevens. He’s currently a board member of the Maryland OHV Alliance as well a board member of the Mid Atlantic Four Wheel Drive Association, and more importantly, a wheeler from this area that has forgotten more than most of us will ever know about 4×4 recreation in this area. Because of a unique relationship he has with the Ranger of the Potomac State Forest for 1 weekend each year he is given the keys to the gates that block access to the trails that are either normally closed, or at least closed to full-sized vehicles. In trade we provide a little bit of sweat equity to help tackle a small project Saturday morning to help the State Forest folks out.
Preston and his wife arrived Thursday night, with most of the rest of us arriving Friday to camp through the weekend. Alex installed his new-to-him rock sliders while Cherie and I setup camp. Sergey, Katya, Shannon, and Kelly showed up Saturday morning ready to have fun. Travis from the DNR showed up around 8:30 to lead us out on our morning project Saturday morning. Just after 9 we headed out to the dirt trail just east of our camp. We were cutting back trees that were starting to overgrow the path, in preparation for some logging that will happen soon. (FYI logging sections of the forest is part of the management practices to maintain a healthy and diverse forest ecosystem) With 3 chainsaws and 9 people helping we cleaned up the trees and branches that Travis downed in front of us. By noon we were a few miles down the trail, exhausted, but had collectively put in 30 man-hours of work that the DNR would not need to do themselves. Travis thanked us for our efforts and we parted ways, heading back to camp for some rest and lunch.
After lunch we headed back out and took the trail we had cleared, but from the other end. Now we got to enjoy the entirety of the trail. We found a few more downed trees, which we took care of, but overall had a good time. At one point the trail has a short steep section which most of us navigated without issue. But whether it was because he was last in the group, he had the heaviest vehicle, or because he had only lowered his tires from 80psi to 25psi, Paul couldn’t get the Power Wagon up the hill under engine power alone. Out came the winch and he made quick work of the hill climb. We had a few other small spots of excitement, but nothing we didn’t all handle and keep going.
We were on the trail for a few hours, so decided to head back to camp again, drop off and pick-up passengers, hang out for a bit, then head out again. Cherie decided to stay at camp and enjoy one of the hammocks we had brought. Paul, hearing Rattlesnake Ridge, the next trail, was a little tighter and more technical, decided to hop into my now available front seat. Rattlesnake Ridge is always a crowd pleaser from the beginning, as we enter the trail via stream crossing, and immediately after the gate (which we unlock and lock behind ourselves) we head across some other large rocks that tip the vehicle to the side, under heavy brush!
The forest was just beautiful this time of year, and the trail was just a constant pleasant ride. Nothing too technical, but enough to keep you paying attention the whole time. Eventually we got to the major obstacle on this trail. A long steep hill climb that has lead to excitement in the past as well. Preston made it halfway up before finding a log across the trail that stopped his momentum. After a 2nd or 3rd attempt he was up the hill. Tom & Deb were next in the Bronco and made it up on the first attempt. We were next, and based on seeing the others runs I decided to lock the rear diff before heading up. We caught a glancing blow off a rock on the way up, but otherwise made it unscathed on our first attempt.
Adam would have the most fun with the hill. After he didn’t follow us up we walked back down to find him slightly slid off the trail. Long story short, after some creative log stacking a few attempts he made it up under his own power! Sergey and Shannon were last and made it look easy.
We found one massive tree down on Rattlesnake which we also took care of. It took two chainsaws and close to an hour but we re-opened the path. I really need to get a chainsaw to bring out next year…
Eventually we made it back to camp, and stayed in for the rest of the evening. Sergey and Katya eventually headed out for dinner and back to their hotel, but the rest of us got to enjoy an evening around the fire, and star gazing and watching multiple shooting stars! The temps were again about 50F at night, which was perfect.
In the morning none of us wanted to pack up and go, but we did at different rates. Sergey & Katya returned for more Sunday trail riding. Shannon, Cherie and I, and Tom followed Preston to one more nearby trail that took us down to the river and to a train bridge. Very cool! After we returned to camp Sergey, Katya, Tom and Preston went for one more trail ride while Cherie and I enjoyed our hammocks and everyone else began packing up. Cherie and I eventually got up and packed ourselves, leaving camp just after Shannon & Kelly, and Paul.
The weather continued to be so perfect that we kept the windows down while driving the winding roads for the entire 3 hours back to our home in VA. Between the cloudless skies, the 70F temps, and the fresh country air it was hard to call the trip over when we got home.
Thanks again Preston for an amazing trip and for inviting us all. We’re already looking forward to next year!
Saturday Morning Ride/Volunteering/Trail Clearing on Snow Mobile Trails:
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Saturday Afternoon Ride/Finishing Snow Mobile Trails from other end:
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Sunday Morning Ride:
Trail report courtesy of Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Andrew, Cherie, Emily, and Sergey.