Mike wrote to say that
Jason, Sam and some friends were thinking about going "Mud Slinging".
When Mike and I went down to Beaver Hole in December, we had tried to
get them to come along but schedules were tight. This time it
would be Mike who had a schedule conflict but Jason, Sam, Ryan and Bill
got free and made plans with me to meet at the Burger King and hit the
Ted and Tom did a
brilliant job packing snacks and drinks; I got cameras and film for
everyone, and soon the Jeep was loaded for the road. We made a
side-trip to Wal*Mart to get film and then started to head back to the
meeting place. Jerry called to say he wanted to come but could not
make it because he was still busy getting ready for classes of the
upcoming week. He had Theo with him so I offered to bring and he
agreed to send Theo along with us.
We drove over to the
University, put the tools and winch kit on the roof rack, and loaded
Theo in back with Tom. Ted rode "shot-gun" and we were off.
Wow! It's been a
while since I even wrote about "muster". We've been going solo way
too often! We reached the Burger King a couple minutes past the
meeting time but still got there first. Jason and Sam, Ryan and
Bill rolled up shortly behind us.
I aired down and
disconnected and talked while the others did the same. I briefly
explained our plans for the day and then we got on the highway and drove
down to the trail.
represented a number of firsts. While we certainly have visited
this trail a few times, it was the first time that I had been out with
all of these guys. Sam and I have been talking about getting
together for quite some time. It was the first time I have seen
the new-generation Jeep JK on the trail. It was impressive and
appears to be a very worthy successor to the TJ. So even though
the trail wasn't new, there was plenty to see that was new. And to
my knowledge, it was Theo's first 4-Wheeling trip like this.
After driving a few
minutes along the pavement, the road turned to gravel.
Then it got rutted
with shallow mud holes here and there. Pretty soon we reached a
minor stream crossing.
Then it got rough and
took a 90-degree turn to run downhill along the canyon.
We decided to visit
the Big Run Cascade cache on the way back up the trail if we still had
daylight. While the trail isn't particularly challenging, it is
very narrow in a couple spots and would be easy to fall off in the dark.
Also the crossing over Christopher Run would be a little difficult in
the dark because it's so rocky.
Pretty soon we got to
a slight rough spot in the road. I stopped and took pictures of
everyone, making it look much worse than it really is. Most of the
rocks are on the side of the trail so it really isn't much of anything!
reached Christopher Run and the rocky crossing. We got out, walked
it off, talked about how to approach it, then one by one crossed the
stream, and squeezed past the rock and narrow spot where the erosion
threatens to swallow vehicles.
Movie 15 MB (below)
Movie 15 MB (above)
I dropped to the
crossing with a good solid BAM! on my gas tank skid plate. After
that, it was pretty smooth.
Next came Jason.
He tip-toed through like a pro. He mentioned an adrenaline rush
when he finally reached the other side. I know that feeling.
vehicle. Rocky Trail. Seeing people bash stuff underneath.
And the adrenaline for sure.
Ryan. He drove
right through with no complications.
After that we drove
along, treating the narrow spots with respect and finally reaching the
location of the
Beaver Hole Cache. It seems the boys and I were the last to
find it before it disappeared and had to be relocated. I still
suspect the old cache is right where we left it. But this trip was
not the time to locate the old hiding spot, so it will have to wait for
We all got out and
started tramping the woods for the hiding spot. It was rough.
Between the loose rocks, briars, wet leaves, and fallen trees, the
footing was uncertain most of the time. Tom fell into a hole but
thankfully didn't hurt himself badly enough to require the chain saw.
Pretty soon Sam called
out that he found the cache but left it in place so the kids could come
up and give it a try. Theo found it and dragged it out where it
could be opened and inspected.
The kids each found
something they liked: Tom a Smokey Bear puzzle; Ted a calculator;
and Theo a DukeMartin personal coin.
The rest of us signed
the log. I logged my 4x4 Icon travel bug and others through.
With that, a little
more chit-chat and we headed back to the trail and drove the rest of the
way down to the bottom of the canyon. A Beaver Hole we parked the
Jeeps and left the boys to explore Jason's new JK. We walked down
to the river and looked around for a minute.
As we were heading
back up, Jason's horn started beeping on and off in alarm mode. It
turned out that the kids had locked the doors and then opened them,
triggering the alarm. Jason reset it with his keys, and all was
We looked around and
found evidence of a recent fire in the fireplace, and a not so recently
discarded rear axle in the bushes.
Sam shared a bag of
pepperoni rolls that disappeared into the boys' bellies in about two
seconds flat. Then we loaded up and headed back up the trail.
We spotted each other through the crossing at Christopher Run.
Then we continued up
to the pull-off near the
Big Run Cascades cache. I grabbed my GPS and the boys and we
started down the hill to the cache.
The walk wasn't too
bad. Soon we reached Big Run. Sam, Jason, Ryan and Bill
caught up to us. We soon determined the cache was across the
stream. That was fun... There were some spots to cross but
the boulders were small, loose and slippery. I had little
confidence, having left my walking stick in the Jeep, and having my
hands full with the camera and GPS. The boys were very eager to
cross and it was all I could do to reign them in and maintain some
Meanwhile, Sam and
Jason crossed and located the cache. I got the boys halfway across
and then told them to stay put while I crossed the rest of the way and
caught up to Sam and Jason. By the time I turned around, the boys
had finished crossing, in various stages of wetness, and we dug into the
Again, everyone signed
the log, did some trading, and pawed over the contents. This time
I had my complete swag bag and left a little plastic camera, logged some
travel bugs and geocoins through, and left my THX4TC blue Jeep Geocoin
COPY, which Jason picked up right away. We packed up the cache and
Jason stashed it back in it's hiding place.
It wasn't until I got
back home and went to log my find that I realized that we had missed the
biggest part of this cache - the cascade. I don't know how I
didn't see it - must have been above it. Sam and Ryan saw it.
I know I was too
preoccupied with seeing the boys get back over the stream safely to do
much looking around. We shall have to come back again...
Walking back up to the
Jeeps we saw a beautiful sunset.
I managed a couple
pictures. We decided to go back via Sandy Springs Road, so Ryan
and Bill decided to split off from us when we reached Route 68 because
they had a schedule to keep.
The rest of the drive
out was pretty straightforward, including the minor stream crossing and
At pavement, we parted
ways with Ryan and Bill.
Jason and Sam followed
us up Chestnut Ridge and out along Sandy Spring road. The
beginning of the road was smooth but of course deteriorated gradually
until near the Route 857 end it was pretty rocky, rutted, and generally
gnarly. We popped out onto Route 857 in total dark, with Theo
commenting how smooth the road felt. Indeed!
at the BP station in Cheat Lake and got gas.
Sam stopped to return the walkie-talkie and we said our good-byes.
I took the boys over to Burger King where we grabbed a bite to eat and
met up with Theo's Dad. All in all, a great day!