It had been some time since I had gotten
out on the trail. There had been so much going on in my life that it would have been
difficult if the Jeep was in perfect shape. So between starting a new job, selling
our house, buying a new one, moving, crashing, blowing the engine and then the u-joints, I was just a tad busy too go wheeling (and
Jeepless for almost two months. It was time to go wheeling!
I did some poking around on the web and
came up with a group
here in West Virginia that was talking about some local trails. I contacted
Jason in response to some install headaches he had with some Rancho shocks. He and Ryan came over the house
to let me have a look and we got to talking about trails. They offered to show me
around a little whenever I was ready.
I was ready. I sent Jason a message
and pretty soon we had something set up. That morning I took Tom to basketball
clinic and then we shot home to get ready to go out. In my haste, I left the house
without the tools and winch kit. Teddy said something that reminded me so we went
back to get them. Jason called to give me an idea what time they'd be over so we
headed for a local dirt road that I had read about online.
Pretty much as expected,
what I found was a dirt road with some washed out spots and some bare shale exposed here
and there. Very do-able in a stock vehicle and a no-brainer in mine. I decided
to drive in for about 30 minutes and then come back out to meet Jason and Ryan. We
got a ways in - up to the middle of Ryan Hollow then turned around and came back down to
the road. We met Jason and Ryan as they were coming up the road toward my house.
From there we hopped on the
highway and drove down a couple exits and then dumped off into the Sandy Creek area south
of Bruceton Mills. There were lots of vehicles coming out with kayaks on board.
Jason took us down to Rockville and then over to the road that led down to Sandy
Creek. We stopped to air down and disconnect on the bridge then took a side trail up
into the woods and along the creek to Wonder Falls.
The first hill was the only
After that it was a nice
drive in the beautiful woods on a great rainy day.
I have told a few people
that I like the woods when it's wet. I don't really mind the rain at all. Of
course I also like driving with top down and doors off. But there's something about
the woods when it's all shiny with fresh rain. There's no dust. The smells are
very fresh. In this case, I would add that the creek was flush with runoff and
running high and fast.
Ryan tried a little fork in
the trail and found he could not get over a rock so backed off and went the way Jason had
Learning from Ryan I stuck
to the main path as well. Pretty soon we reached the spot where a nice waterfall
runs by. We left the Jeeps and walked a few yards down to the creek
at Wonder Falls.
It was not to be trifled
with today. If this creek was ever to be crossed with a vehicle, this was not the
place and this was not the day. The water was roaring down the pass and out of sight
with a great fury. It was dark with silt.
The kids wanted to go out on
the rocks over the bank and get a closer look. Anyone who knows me has seen the
cautious approach I take with the kids. It kills me sometimes because I feel like
I'm hovering. And maybe I am. But I just don't think a 5-year old and a 7-year
old always comprehend the power of nature. Thinking it might help to demonstrate it,
I showed them how fast a large twig disappeared into the frothing flow.
This only served to heighten
their interest. Instead of creeping to the edge for a single glance, they began
making trips back and forth over the wet, mossy rocks to snap twigs off the deadwood then
return to the stream to toss them in... So after a few attempts to discourage this,
and after failing miserably, I marched the kids back to the bank and into the Jeep.
Mean Dad. But I was going home dry with both of my kids still accounted for.
I may have marred their memory of the trip by my stern nature but at least they're
alive to remember it!
We turned around and doubled
back the way we came. Ryan took point and soon we broke out on the main dirt road
we'd followed in. There was still some time left so we headed deeper into the woods
following the main dirt road. There were many interesting spots on either side of
We followed a logging spur
down to one side thinking we could get to Cooper Rock that way (It doesn't). Soon we
came to a fallen tree. It would have been easy to deal with had I remembered to put
my saw in the Jeep, or even better brought a chain saw. We had neither so we turned
around and went back up to the main road and on to pavement.
We stopped there to air up
and connect, and to chat for a few minutes. Then we drove out to the road, under the
highway right about even where King Trees is located, then up the side road parallel to
the highway. We passed the road that empties out from Sand Springs and will probably
come out that way when we get a chance to run that whol trail. When we got to the
highway, I caught Jason and Ryan for a second to say thanks and then we got on the
A little ways down we
encountered a nice looking white Jeep out of gas on the breakdown lane. I stopped
and dumped my gallon reserve into his tank. His help showed up right behind me and
we headed out to go home.
When we reached our exit, we
found Ryan airing up at the gas station. We joined him and got air too. I
suggested the gas was cheaper down the road so we went and did that too, then we said our
As you can see from the map,
this is very close to my new home. I have many times said in the past that if I
could find a way to make a living here in West Virginia, I would move here. Please
realize that my decision to move here was made based on work and career, not to mention
the desire to give my kids a good place to grow up. But the sweetness of having the
wilderness this close to my front door is a blessing!
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