Rawley Springs – GWNF

CORE and S10Extremist.org ride to Rawley Springs, VA. This ride came about as a combination of two groups that wanted to go for a ride in the George Washington National Forest. So it was that the Capital Off Road Enthusiasts and the S10-Extremists (along with a few other folks) found themselves meeting at the Wendy’s in Park Ridge Centre in Manassas VA to meet up with others at McDorman’s Store in Rawley Springs and spending a little play time off the pavement in the area around Dry River and Long Run.

“Our ride was pretty uneventful until we reached the stream crossing with the rock garden on the uphill side.”

The players:

  • Keith Holman, 91 S-10 Blazer (4x4x4doors), CORE and S10 Extremists
  • Bob Weaver, 90 Ford Bronco, CORE
  • Bob Jaeger, 00 Ford Ranger, CORE
  • Chad Perry, 97 TJ, (Lostone), S10 Extremists
  • Kevin Hix, 85 S-10 Long Bed, S10 Extremists with friend, Jay
  • James Miller, 94 S-10 Blazer, SFA (Jamus), S10 Extremists
  • Sam Liscomb, 88 S-15 X-Cab, SFA, (HBone3), S10 Extremists
  • Paul and Julia Woscek, 01 Crew Cab S-10, Guests
  • Dave Bels, 88 S-10 Blazer 2 door, Guest
  • Jon Patterson and Amanda Long, 94 Olds Bravada, Guests

Dave, Paul and Julia; Bob W. and Keith started out from Wendy’s and added Bob J. when they heard him calling over the CB just as they approached the Harrisonburg exit. They pulled into McDorman’s (on time) to find the rest of the crew waiting in the parking lot.

After a few minutes of oohing and aahing over the modififed and new vehicles (Keith likes that crew cab!), we agreed to head over to Dry River for a little mud play and started on our way. By the way, I feel it’s important to note here that Keith did NOT miss the turn off 33 to the river.

As we first crossed the river, it was obvious that Dry River was living up to it’s name. While not dry, the water level was definitely down, but not so far down that Chad was unable to splash the windshield as we went through. As we approached the gate by the dam, the gate was closed. Someone had previously reported that there had been a fire in that general area a couple of weeks ago, couldn’t help but wonder if the two were related. It didn’t affect us as our turn off was before you get to the gate.

A thin tree had fallen across the trail at about windshield height but it was quickly dispatched. We wound around to the first BIG mudhole to find it had the remnants of snow on it and a fair amount of goopy mud. We separated into the mudders and non-mudders with the mudders having a blast driving back and forth through the glop. To run from one end to the other found the root ball of a fallen tree preventing even the most determined from getting through. Geometry just made it impossible to move through the mud and up over at the same time. There was still plenty of room to play, though. As we stood watching, the sound of a starter moving an engine that wasn’t going to run came across the glop. After making a path across the mire, Dave had pulled up on the bank to sit and watch when his Blazer just quit running and wouldn’t restart. The problem was identified as a blown fuse to the fuel pump. Everyone cautioned Dave to leave the cover panel off the fuse box but he was insistent. Sure enough, the problem repeated itself. We replaced the fuse a couple of times and then further investigation revealed a mess of hanging wire underneath. The power harness had managed to get tangled up in the rotating from driveshaft. The front driveshaft proved to be, literally, the undoing of the harness as it ripped the wires into two pieces. (And people say the front drive trains on S-10s are weak…they’re stronger than twisted copper wire!)

Chad, who apparently travels with the equivalent of a garage shop, dug out his floor jack and jack stands and set to work rebuilding the harness. He announced it would probably be an hour before the work was either done or pronounced hopeless and suggested the rest of the group go ahead and make arrangements to meet up again. Leaving Chad, Dave and Sam to tend to things there, the rest of went on to explore that area.

After traveling about 100 yards, Jamus discovered an unusual noise that turned out to be a broken shock mount on his new SFA. He decided to return to the shop in the woods to see if repairs could be made there.

By this time, I am thinking of the old movie, Ten Little Indians, where we see the title characters getting picked off one at a time until there are none. As it turned out, the day worked out better than that.

We circled around the area, crossing the rocky stream bed at several of the designated crossings. We stopped to walk around a bit, picked up a big garbage bag full of trash and moved along. Kevin stopped a couple of times to add just a little tranny fluid and we managed to snag a couple of bumpers as we came off some drop downs but primarily just had a good time playing follow the leader through the winding paths across a few mud puddles. We saw a number of other folks out enjoying the day as well. There was a group harvesting firewood from fallen trees, a couple of guys on dirt bikes and a group we had seen earlier of primarily Toyota trucks with varying degrees of modification. The Toy group also included a CJ and an Expedition. We completed our loop and headed back to see how the repairs were coming. We found the repair group headed our way having finished in almost exactly the anticipated hour.

We stopped then for a late lunch. After eating, we decided to run through the loop again since we were about equidistant from both paths to pavement. Chad discovered that “still waters run deep”, or maybe just that there was a big hole in the crossing of Dry River. We gathered ourselves and headed around to play on Old Long Run. We started from the bottom and pulled up to take a look at the little side hill. As we were looking it over, the Toy group from earlier in the day pulled up from the other direction. Five of us went down and parked at the bottom loop while the other five pulled to the side to let them pass. After retrieving vehicles from the bottom of the hill, we continued along the trail.

Our ride was pretty uneventful until we reached the stream crossing with the rock garden on the uphill side. The dropoff into the crossing was steep enough to allow some “three-wheeling” in a couple of the S-10s and a couple of spinning tires as we crossed up on the other side.

I was pleased to note that earlier efforts to shore up a couple of washouts were holding up very well. Just before reaching the clearing at the “OCC ford” (a spot where a decaying bridge had been replaced with a rock-lined ford), there was the remnants of another sizable tree that fallen away from the stream side across the road. (Someone had mentioned that the trail had been blocked several months earlier but considerable time and work with a chainsaw had cleared the way.)

As we made our way up the hill after the ford, the CB chatter mentioned how this road would be rather challenging with the steep dropoff if ice-covered. We stopped to regroup at the Long Run-Gauley Ridge crossroads. Plans were made for dinner at Luigi’s (a Harrisonburg Italian place popular with the JMU crowd) or to head for home. We parted ways just before heading into the town square. Ligi’s was crowded and the five of us were finishing dinner as Chad and Jamus drove up. Apparently through mixed communications, they had gotten separated unintentionally from our group. Ooops!

All in all a good day. Nice weather. Good folks. A real impressive demonstration of the goodness and resourcefulness of the four wheeling ommunity. I look forward to doing this again.

Trail report written by Keith Holman.

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