Dry River / Kephart


May 27, 2001

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!



On the May 19th trip, a group went out and ran Dry River at around 4 p.m. after the clean-up run down and up Old Long Run and down Second Mountain.  I asked my kids if they wanted to go.  We had already been on the road since 7 a.m. so it was no surprise that my oldest, Teddy, said "no more 4-wheeling" (he's three).  So we went to McDonald's, the "Jeep" wash and then home.  About 1/2-way home, Ted say's "let's go 4-wheeling"...  Untapped reserves of energy kicked in after that food we ate at the Irish restaurant with the golden arches...  We went home anyway.  Which left Dry River a mystery until this trip.

Trip Notes

This time I left the kids home.  Later I would be a little surprised to find how much I missed them on the trip because, as any parent knows, 2- and 3-year olds are very demanding.  But this did give me a chance to wander around a little more freely so in some ways it was nice that they took the day off.  


Wendy's Wendy's Wendy's

We assembled in the usual fashion, at Wendy's in Manassas.  A good-sized group of  Jeep TJ's, a couple YJ's, Cherokees, and a Ford pick-up.  An interesting combination of vehicles with mine and Mike McCready's TJ's being basically stock.  I'm getting used to being in the minority but it was nice to have someone else along at my ride-height.

The drive out to Harrisonburg was the same as usual, a brisk pace but nothing illegal or antisocial.  We made good time and rolled in to a gas station in town after about 2 hours.  Most folks took on fuel and attended to various needs.  Back on the road to McDorman's we spotted a YJ for sale, and someone mentioned it on the CB.  This drew a response from Mark and Houston Long who were waiting about 8 miles down the road at McDorman's!  That is a pretty incredible reach for a CB.  It turns out they are using a Cobra 75 WX ST with a Wilson antenna mounted on the side of their Jeep.  I just ordered this CB so I am looking forward to seeing if I can get as much out of it!


We stopped briefly at McDorman's so people could get sandwiches and visit the facilities.  I grabbed a ham and cheese, and we hit the road. 

Dry River Entrance

Just a couple miles down Route 33 we stopped at the beginning of the Dry Run trail so folks could air down and so on.  I wanted to drop top but with the rack it takes a little too long.  And the weather was looking like rain so I didn't even take the windows off.

Airing Down Airing Down Airing Down


While all this was going on I made some photographs.  And I got a look at the first crossing.  Geeze...  I am starting to think that I am a wimp.  These river crossings are not something I would have tried on my own.  But after seeing people go right through without a hitch, it makes me realize that maybe it's not all that bad.  I still wouldn't do it if I was alone, but it's nice to know it's possible.

After the first crossing or two it didn't seem too bad and the carpet was still dry.  I expect that I will eventually get rid of the carpet, but for now...   I did put everything up on the seats and lash it all down, but it looked like it would not be a problem, so I was just enjoying the ride.  The trail was narrow and there were lots of roots but there wasn't anything that was challenging.  Just a nice ride in the woods so far.  We popped out on a rocky little peninsula where we stopped for lunch.


Dry River

Lunch Lunch Lunch


I spent the time eating, chatting and making photos of the different people and rigs.  It was a nice spot where you could see the ridge rising in the background.  We had a sun shower and then some sunshine.


After lunch, we made another crossing.  All the vehicles ahead of me were quite well lifted and going deeper into the water than I would have liked.  Without the lift, and in fact, with something of a negative ride height from stock, I wasn't sure that I even wanted to try it.  But before I could really talk myself out of it, Mike McCready had started to cross the stream ford.

He got about half-way across, started taking water over the top of his hood, and got hung up.  We later guessed that he got stuck on a rock that was just too high to climb over, and he might have taken the crossing a little deeper than he had to.  So he gets a strap from Jason while I take my strap down from the roof and unroll it for the very first time, preparing for my turn...  Then I really got nervous.

As luck would have it, I was able to benefit from Mike's misfortune and take a line more to the right, where it is not as deep and where I was able to avoid the rock.  While making the crossing, I was  convinced that the water was over the bottom of my doors and that I would start taking on water any second, but looking at the pictures, it was nothing like that.  Others that crossed later did go deeper and got a little more wet than I.

Post Crossing

From there, we meandered through the woods at the foot of the ridge and, after passing the entrance to the Dam, made another crossing that took us up the road. flooded by a meandering stream and onto the other side, out of sight from where we entered.

Dry RiverDry River


Crossing Crossing Crossing Crossing Crossing Crossing Crossing Crossing

It was quite picturesque, very pleasant after the somewhat murky mud puddles that we had been going through along the trail.  Shortly after, we reached the road. 


Right by the side of the road was a flock of yellow butterflies that were drawn to something on the ground.  I only wish I had been behind Mark and Houston so I could have gotten a photo of their yellow Jeep with the yellow butterflies.




After a quick hop back down the road, we went up the Kephart trail.  This was pretty easy.  Back on March 24, it seemed a little more difficult but I think not having the snow this time took away some of the mystery.

Cab View

We encountered a pick-up truck coming out.  Everyone ditched in the woods to let him by.  Later, we encountered a fire that someone had left behind.  It always amazes me how careless people can be with fire.  That was squelched and we continued to the water fall rock obstacle.


Waterfall Rock

Waterfall Rock

In March, I passed up the opportunity to climb this for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the fact that I had a full Jeep (wife and two kids, overnight gear, and trail clearing tools) and wasn't sure I wanted to risk getting broken.  This time around, it looked less threatening, my Jeep was empty, and it seemed do-able.  And it was no problem climbing up.  Everyone took it on and everyone made it, with varying degrees of finesse.  

 Kephart Kephart Kephart

Kephart Kephart Kephart Kephart Kephart

I made it up without so much as a little "graunch".  We hung around while everyone climbed it, with lots of picture taking and discussion about how to climb back down.

Kephart Kephart Kephart Kephart

Coming down, I made up for my clean ascent by getting high centered on my engine skid plate.  While the others made photos of my silly position, and with a couple of people on my back bumper to make the front wheels dangle just for the pictures, I made the mistake of moving the steering wheel.  The Jeep slid an inch or two to the side.  This got me off the rock but also convinced the bumper- riders it was time to head for cover.  After that it was an easy crawl back down to terra firma.

Kephart Kephart

The drive out to the road was pretty basic.  I stopped in the middle of a stream to make some photos of the Jeep and was treated to trail hospitality when the guy in front of me came back to throw me a strap!  I was not stuck but it was nice to know someone was right there if I did get hung up.

Kephart Kephart Kephart Kephart


We hit the road, drove out the the Exxon near Route 81, where everyone aired up, reconnected and made arrangements for the trip home and later.  Mike McReady and I went to Luigi's Pizza Place and had something to eat, while exchanging our "how I got my Jeep" stories.  One the way home, we saw a yellow Hummer parked at the same Exxon, with a matching trailer.  Very serious looking rig...cubic $$...

More Photos here: Jackie Cooper | Jason | Mike Ball

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