Blackwater Canyon

Big Run Scenic Overlook - Click to Enlarge

7/9/04 - 7/11/04

Way Points

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4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

Prologue

My wife and kids had taken off for the week to stay with Tio Pedro in Connecticut.  That left me to work as usual and with the weekend coming up, I started thinking about what to do with the free time.  A GeoCache listing caught my attention and soon I was thinking about making a trip out to West Virginia to visit it, and the surrounding area.  There were a couple of considerations that gave me pause.

The travel distance was fairly significant - about four hours.  That's about the same drive time as my trips to Oak Ridge, Big Levels or Shoe Creek.  It's marginally less than Potts Jeep Road.  So it was going to be a long road trip.  I had to think about whether or not to drive out there on Friday night after work, which would mean setting up camp in the dark.

The second issue was that of making a trip like this alone.  While it is more involved when I bring the kids, I like having them along to share the new places and experiences.  But it does require providing for an exit strategy should things turn bad and we have to find a way home (like we did in February when the Jeep broke down in Green Ridge).  That means getting someone else to come along in another vehicle so that we have a ride at the very least, and better yet, a way to get a stuck vehicle out of the hole.  Never mind wildly unlikely events like animal attacks, crashes, or natural disaster.  Suffice to say that I tend not to go it alone because it would really stink to get stuck in the remote wilderness with no way out except to walk, and perhaps not enough food to make for a comfortable overnight stay if that became necessary.  I posted a short-notice announcement on the OCC message board but did not get any takers.  This was not too surprising as the club picnic was on one of the days I would be gone, it was a multiple day trip, and it was very short notice.  So by Friday afternoon it was clear that if I was going on this trip, I was going to be going alone - no kids, no buddies, and just my Jeep and gear.

I decided that maybe this was something I needed to do, sort of like the "vision quests" that the Native Americans did at various times to seek clarity and inspiration.  I'm not going to pile a bunch of mumbo-jumbo onto this.  I didn't go planning to have some near-death experience; didn't have any peyote, and wasn't going to put vines around my ankles and jump head-first from the canyon rim.  Once in a while I think everyone likes to get away from the "noise" of their life, and opportunities to do so are quite rare.  I decided I needed to mitigate the risk of going alone so I made several provisions along those lines:

  • Equipment - I brought my camping gear and food enough for twice the planned stay.  As always, I carry my vehicle recovery gear, tools, and critical spare parts that have failed in the past (pulleys, belts, hoses, brake parts, etc.)
  • Plans and Itinerary - I contacted the local ranger station and discussed the camping opportunities and having identified a site, shared my "flight plan" with the ranger so someone locally would know I was there.  I also talked to my wife and, as always, shared with her my plans, including the location of the GPS map coordinates that were on our home computer in case she needed to send out a search party.
  • Navigation - I planned to travel late in the evening to the camping spot, then drive and hike in a large, remote area.  I brought my GPS receivers (3), my laptop with map software, DeLorme's Gazetteers, map and compass.  Having studied four different maps of the area, I was relatively familiar with the landmarks and lay of the land.
  • Alternative Transport - I figured it would be worthwhile to bring my mountain bike as an option for getting out of the woods if the Jeep broke down.  Granted, it would not get me far in terms of vehicle recovery, but it could potentially save me hours of walking if something went wrong with the Jeep way out in the woods and I needed to leave it behind.
  • First Aid - The same stuff as usual, fairly comprehensive assortment of supplies to cover a broad assortment of injuries associated with wilderness activities.

I read in accounts of the GeoCachers visits to the location that rattle snakes were a possibility, so I resolved that the hiking portion of my trip would be done with heavy jeans, and as usual my hiking boots.  I know that bears are very common in this area so I didn't bring any food that would smell good to them, and said a prayer to the God of Bears that I would not be supper for any of them.

Muster

So with these details out of the way, I removed the back seat of the Jeep, packed all my stuff inside, fired up the GPS and laptop, got cash and supper, and hit the road at 8:30pm.  The road trip to Blackwater Canyon was long and driven mostly after dark.  I left the laptop on, running off the power inverter, tracking my route as I went.  The large screen was a huge improvement over the 1 x 2 screens of the GPSs.  I ran the laptop connected to one of the GPS 12's and ran tracks on the other two GPS's.

Road Trip - Click to Enlarge

I hopped on 270 and then 70, heading west for Cumberland.  Caught 68 near Hancock and made a brief stop at Sideling Hill at 10:22 PM.  Eventually I got to the general area of the cache, past Keyser and Mt Storm.  I had a brief moment in Gormania where GPS coverage was spotty and coincided with a bizarre road intersection, so I got a little turned around.  But I reverted to paper maps and compass and oriented myself in a matter of seconds, and got back on track.  Except for that few minutes, I was on-route the entire weekend.

I have always liked the soft glow of electronic devices in the car at night.  On this trip, with three GPS receivers, the CB, the stereo, the cell phone, the power inverter, and the laptop, I was in doo-dad heaven. 

Electronic Devices - Click to Enlarge
Electronic DevicesElectronic DevicesElectronic Devices

I had to flip the laptop screen down to keep it from distracting me as I drove.  And every so often, the screen saver kicked in and I would have to log in again if I wanted to see where I was. I half expected to get stopped by a police officer for watching TV but didn't.

I had set a GPS course to take me to Olson Tower from my house.  It worked perfectly.  I arrived at the tower at 1:13 AM.  It was too dark to climb it, so I turned back down the road and soon found the primitive campsite the ranger had described to me on the telephone.  I left the Jeep running with the lights on while I set up camp, then hit the sack.  I like the glow of the cyano light sticks that I give the kids when we go camping - it's a handy night light - so I cracked one of them on before I fell asleep.  I figured maybe the bears would see it and mistake my tent for a fire and leave it alone...

A couple times before I got up, I woke to answer the call of nature.  The quiet and solitude that I found outside is hard to describe.  It had been a long time since I realized how much noise we tune out in our daily lives.  This place is so far from anything that the silence there is profound.  The only thing that interrupted it in the early morning hours was the occasional airplane flying high above.  But for that it was just the birds and the bees singing the primordial tune they know so well.  At that hour, everything in the fog comes through in black and white, giving a very soft and surreal quality to the woods.  I felt like I was standing in a painting and if I were to turn away, I would find myself back in line at the Hirshhorn lamenting the crowds.  But it was real and I had it all to myself and the animals around me that I could not see.

Campsite - Click to Enlarge
CampsiteCampsiteCampsiteCampsiteCampsite
 

Later in the morning, when I got up, I moved the tent to a better location and put my large tarp (that I had packed at the last minute,) over the tent and surrounding area. 

Campsite - Click to Enlarge

I figured it would be good protection against dew fall and rain, and didn't take much time to set up.  On this trip I chose to use the two-man tent I bought the kids because I didn't need all the space of the large tent and didn't want to spend the extra time it takes to set up.  This proved to be a good choice, and except that the only thing that fits in the tent is the full-sized air mattress, it was very comfortable.

I made some coffee and had something simple for breakfast, then broke down my stuff and stored it in a locked trunk in the tent.  I didn't really expect anyone to come along and steal my stuff, but figured if that was going to happen, then I'd make it a little bit less worthwhile.  I downloaded my GPS tracks from the night before to the computer and reviewed my plans for the days ahead.  I was pleased that my trip in the night before had gone so well.

Trail

Canyon Rim Trail Head - Click to Enlarge
Find me!Find me!Trail Head

The drive to the trail head was short.  I outfitted myself for a four mile hike.  I packed food and took canteen belt, map and compass, the instructions for the GeoCache, and the camera.  I parked the Jeep at the trail head and took two GPS receivers, locking everything else up.

This trip represents a departure from normal habits for me.  I didn't bring the kids or anyone else.  And more significantly, a big part of this outing involved hiking instead of driving.  The location of the GeoCache is not accessible by vehicle (well, my assessment of the trail is that with the exception of breaking the law, and one spot where the edge of the canyon rim and boulders on the side of the trail are too narrow to drive through, one could get a vehicle down the trail with significant paint scraping and general anti-social behavior. 

Trail - Click to Enlarge

I would have no way of knowing about the tight spot but it was academic - I came here to hike the trail to the GeoCache and like to obey the rules with regard to trail use.  I do NOT recommend attempting to drive this trail - there are lots of trail users, and as I said previously, it is not open to motorized vehicles.  Mountain bikes are welcome, but that's it.  And if you still had much of a vehicle left when you reached the pinch, you might not be so lucky if you thought of trying to squeeze by...

I realized after setting off that I had forgotten my sunglasses, so I walked back to the Jeep and retrieved them.  Then I set off down the trail in the direction of the cache.  I soon realized that I had chosen the "easy drive/long walk" option described in the GeoCache description.  Instead of driving down the rocky road that requires high clearance and perhaps 4WD, followed by a short hike, I had chose to drive up the smooth dirt road and hike 1.83 miles to the cache location.  DOH!  But I reasoned that I was not in any hurry to get anyplace and the walk would do me good.  Also, I would run the rough road later after completing the hike.

ppro

The walk along the trail was very pleasant.  It reminded me of the many hikes I took in Vermont.  I noticed that the trail ran downhill most of the way to the cache and mentally noted that I would have a hard walk back to the trail head.

Canyon Rim Trail - Click to Enlarge

Another trail intersects with the Canyon Rim Trail (Flat Rock Trail) and sure enough, at the designated spot, I peeked through some pine branches and discovered a well hiked trail descending steeply down the canyon rim.  Had I not know of the trail and without the GPS to mark the spot, I would have walked right past this junction without even knowing another trail was here!

There were lots of plants and other things to look at along the way.  The Mountain Laurel were almost past their prime.  Most of the flowers were looking pretty ragged, but a few were still pretty enough to photograph.  I saw some Indian Pipe fungus and mushrooms as well.

Poison?Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel - Click to EnlargeIndian Pipe (Fungus) - Click to Enlarge

Hiking along the more or less level portion of the trail that runs roughly east-west to the cache, I noted a small cairn of rocks and a few sticks arranged like an arrow.

Mini Rock Cairn and stick arrow - Click to Enlarge
Canyon Rim View
Trail to OutlookRim View

Looking in the direction indicated, I saw sketch of a path leading to the rim of the canyon.  I followed it to an outcrop of rocks and a staggering view.  The sky was very hazy and the air was quite moist so the view was not what it would be on a cool fall day, but it was still worth the side trip.

GeoCache

Eventually I got to the spot that was marked on the GPS as the cache location.  To my left, an large rock pinnacle rose from the trail. 

Pinnacle - Click to Enlarge
Pinnacle

I climbed around behind it and then up onto it.  This was tricky business and was not necessary to locate the cache.  In fact the footing and hand-holds were marginal; I probably took a big chance climbing it.  I would not recommend climbing the pinnacle without gear as a fall would be life-threatening, and even if you lived, you'd be out there for some time before someone found you (or your bones...).

Descending from the pinnacle, I re-read the GeoCache instructions only to learn of my folly, and climbed the correct rocks to the cache location.  As expected, it was hidden casually, but given that the spot was well off the path, it is unlikely that someone just out hiking is not going to find it by accident.  I didn't find any snakes but do not doubt that they could be living in the many rocks strewn all about.

Cache - Click to Enlarge
Cache

The tube contained a number of trinkets.  As I went through the cache, I could hear thunder moving closer from the north, and the sky was darkening.  I ate lunch here, taking some time to rest and catch my breath from the climb.  Then I logged the cache contents, signed the log, and then made my way back down to the trail. 

Hiking Back

By the time I was back underway, a little after noon, it had started to rain.  At first it was light and the trees kept me from getting wet.  But in anticipation of heavier rain, I packed all my electronic devices (camera, one GPS, phone, Blackberry) into my pack where I hoped they'd stay dry.  I kept one GPS out because it is waterproof and I wanted to be sure to stay on the trail.  I turned tracking off and followed the track I had made coming in.

It gradually rained harder and harder until finally I was hiking in a driving rain.  It was uncomfortable to be soaked to the skin, but I wasn't cold or hungry, I so pressed on.  I was so lost in my own reverie that I was startled by a metallic rattling noise, a squeak, and someone saying "Sorry!".  A mountain biker had been descending the trail and materialized out of the foliage immediately in front of me, requiring him to stop short of hitting me head-on.  I was less surprised that I would have expected, but still a little rattled.  I told him all was well, good thing neither of us were bears, and we continued each his own way.  He advised me his companion was following behind him and shortly I came upon her walking her bike through some rough terrain.

I had contemplated bringing my bike on the trail, but not knowing what the trail looked like decided that it would be an impediment if I could not ride it most of the way in both directions.  Given my lack of improved physical conditioning, I would indeed have walked the bike most of the way and hated life for it.  The hill up to the trail head was taking its toll on me, and the rain showed no signs of abating.  But with the knowledge of how close the trail head was, I didn't lose perspective and around 2 PM was back at the Jeep, stowing stuff out of the rain, and trying to find a way to make my soggy self comfortable.

I snapped all my electronic devices back into place, downloaded the GPS tracks into the laptop, and set a course to drive the rough road described in the GeoCache description. 

Electronics
Electronics

Cab Legend

(Legend)

With everything all set, and my course identified, I drove back down the trail past my camp and turned in to FR 18.  The road was rough in spots and would be a hard route to follow in a car.  For me, it was the mildest of wheeling but the woods and later down the road, the views were worth the trip.

Blackwater Canyon and Canaan Loop Road Area - Click to Enlarge

GPS coverage was spotty but the road was easy to follow.  I passed the landmarks shown on the map and also the vehicle and bikes of the people I had encountered on the trail.  They must have ridden their bikes up FR 18 to the same trail head I used, then rode the trail all the way through, coming out on FR 18 again - the same entrance I could have taken if I had opted for the short route to the cache.

A little further down the road, I came to the Big Run Scenic Overlook.  The view was much as before, now a little more hazy owing to the rain.  But I stopped and took it in, finding a pleasant view and great solitude.

Big Run Scenic Overlook - Click to Enlarge
Big Run Scenic Overlook Trail HeadBig Run Scenic OverlookBig Run Scenic Overlook
Big Run Scenic Overlook

The rain stopped.  Further down the road I came to a spot that was washed out.  It was a typical crossing over a trickle of water that was slowly going to erode the terrain.  It certainly was not an obstacle, but it made for a good picture or three.

Crossing - Click to Enlarge
CrossingCrossing

Noting a road on the map that ascended up and away from FR 18 on the map, I watched and soon spotted it.  The entrance was severely rutted and looked a bit difficult owing to the depth of the ruts and the height of the center.  I was able to spot a line to one side and climb past the rough section.  Now we're wheeling!  The road climbs into the woods and runs right, leveling off and passing through a nice little pine grove, and disappearing into an old strip mine area.

TrailWoods

There were very few signs of activity and I suspect it has been some time since the mine was active.  I stopped to walk around, take pictures, and after driving to the other end of the general area, took down a chair and had an afternoon snack.  Following the lead of a book I have ("Manifold Destiny"), I had placed a couple vacuum packs containing Beef Stew MRE's in my engine compartment next to my radiator overflow bottle.  I have observed that it gets very hot there and should bring food to a good temperature for eating.  It is not hot enough for cooking, but pre-cooked foods like the MRE's should work great.  Sure enough, I opened the hood and found a nice hot meal waiting for me!   I ate them right out of the package and was very satisfied.  The book is funny but also gives some great tips about cooking with your engine, the best engines to use (got a spare Jaguar XK engine laying around?) and dispels some of the fears you may have about combining food and engines.  I recommend it!

Strip Mine - Click to Enlarge
Strip MineStrip MineStrip MineStrip Mine
Strip Mine

Then I drove around the area, playing on some of the rough spots and taking it easy on the terrain and my vehicle.  No sense breaking something way out here!

Strip MineStrip Mine

I backtracked down to FR 18 following the same route I came in on.  I came to another washout like one before and made a couple more images.  It wasn't really an obstacle though a car driver might think twice before attempting to cross.

CrossingCrossing

Another road going up into the woods presented itself.  This one was fairly well traveled so I poked in to see where it led. 

Trail - Click to Enlarge

After following it for a while I came to a gated area that was marked by a hunting club as their private domain.  I turned back and went down to FR 18 once again.  The road was interesting for the views and gave me some time to relax and just enjoy the woods.

When I reached pavement I stopped to make pictures of some of the road signs.  I discovered that my front number plate had come free and was dangling by the tether that I had installed for that purpose. 

Thanks to the tether I kept my license plate...

Thankfully I did not have to backtrack in the vain hope of finding my number plate!  I snapped it back in place and finished taking my pictures. 

Forest Boundary FR 18Forest Boundary FR 18Forest Boundary FR 18Forest Boundary FR 18Forest Boundary FR 18

I came to a little "town" called Douglas though I must say, it looked more like a small neighborhood than anything else.  It was wrapped in lush vegetation and gave off a serenity that is pretty rare back where I live.

Big Town

Pretty soon I came to a nice little house that is for sale.  I stopped to record the info and make a couple images of the area. 

Nice House For SaleNice House For SaleNice House For SaleRoad to ForestRoad to Forest

After that I reached the little town of Thomas, where I got fuel and bought some firewood so that I could have a fire at camp later in the evening.

Old Town Building

Then I drove up the road to the town of Davis, making note of the location of the car wash as I passed.  I couldn't find the entrance to the Canaan Loop Road on my maps so I went to the Blackwater Falls State Park for directions. 

Blackwater Falls State Park

I got a map and directions and soon found the trail head.

Canaan Loop Road

Movie: mov06010.mpg Canaan Loop Road
Movie

By all accounts, the Canaan Loop Road is rough in a couple spots, and most of the references I found suggest a high-clearance vehicle, with 4WD.  Additionally, one of the write-ups said that part of the road belongs to a lumber company and requires permission if you want to drive on it.  I contacted the lumber company and they said they do share ownership of a road in the area, but the Canaan Loop Road is public and does not require permission to be used.  And again, the woman I spoke to warned of the need for a high-clearance 4WD vehicle.  So needless to say I was looking forward to what this road had to offer.

The beginning of the road is like any other forest road.  It is well marked and fairly smooth - nothing to write home about in terms of four-wheeling territory.  But soon enough the surface deteriorates and the promised rough spots become obvious.  I can't say that they are so bad that a motivated car driver could not get through.  But it was interesting to drive it in the Jeep.  I came upon a family of four playing in a stream that crosses the road.  They looked at me like I just landed from Mars when I appeared.  I very slowly crawled across the stream and up the rough climb out the other side.  I didn't get a look at their reaction to my decision to continue past this point but I suspect they were happy they didn't take their PathFinder or whatever it was past the stream.

The rest of the trail was very scenic with some interesting but easy rough spots thrown down for good measure. 

Canaan Loop Road - Click to Enlarge
Canaan Loop Road

At one point I came to a side trail that went across Red Run stream.  A guy and his companion had parked partially blocking the trail and set up camp next to the trail on the other side of the crossing.  At first I wasn't going to go across, but it looked so interesting that I could not resist.  The rocks were calling my name and the trail promised a nice climb to the top of Mozark Mountain.

I had to crawl down through a craggy section of rock to get past the car on the trail.  As I did, the fellow at the campsite across the stream noticed me.  I crossed the stream as quietly as possible and climbed up the rocky bank on the other side without any drama, though the vehicle did reveal its underside to the guy watching.  He seemed interested and not at all disturbed.  When I got to where he was standing I stopped and passed the time of day, and indicated my plan to drive up the mountain.  He asked me to tell him about it when I returned.  But a few yards down the trail I encountered a gate and had to turn back.  I told him what I found and crossed back to the main road.  The climb up the rocks to get past his car was looking iffy but I got by without any problems.

From here on out it was an easy drive.  Any vehicle could pass this part of the road without any trouble.  I stopped to take a break and discovered some huge reddish-purple blueberries that were just ripening.  I felt like a bear standing there gulping them down.  There was lots of vehicle and pedestrian activity as I got closer to the other end of the loop where it connects with the road.  Lots of people were set up in campsites and most of them had mountain bikes strapped on the vehicle or parked nearby.

Trail Head on Canaan Loop RoadTrail Head on Canaan Loop RoadTrail Head on Canaan Loop RoadTrail Head on Canaan Loop Road

Returning to Davis around 6:45 PM, I stopped at the Dollar General in search of Jeep toys.  I was rewarded with some cool CJ5's with trailers and either motocross bikes or jet skis. 

Summer Fun Vehicle Assortment

I bought one of each color for myself and one for each of the boys.  Next door, I picked up some easy starting fire logs and charcoal lighter fluid.  I figured it would be a lot easier to get the fire going using these things than the wet brush that was waiting for me back in camp.

I inquired about good and inexpensive restaurants in town and was told that there were a few good ones but that none were cheap.  I went down the main drag in Thomas (not the historical section) looking for a place and decided to stop at one that looked promising.  I went in and got seated at the bar - it sucks to be eating in the dining room alone - and ordered a nice meal that came fast and was excellent.  Well, when they say "Not Cheap", they aren't kidding.  Don't think that just because you're in West Virginia that you're going to get a meal at bargain prices.  Let's just put it this way - for what I paid for that meal, I fed my family well a few days later at a major chain restaurant!

After paying the check, I headed back to the campsite.  On my way, I passed a windmill farm, with several, very large units that were turning and ostensibly generating power.  I had read in accounts of the area the controversy that these had stirred.  One account lamented a rare species of bats that were killed by the windmills.  On seeing them in actual practice, I have a hard time conceiving that the bats would have had any trouble avoiding them...   Some of the pictures here do not do them justice - they are incredibly large.

Wind PowerWind PowerWind Power

Entrance to FR 18 and 717Entrance to FR 18 and 717

It was almost dark by the time I got back to the tent, so I got the fire going and kicked back to relax for a while.  It was very peaceful there. 

CampsiteCampsiteCampsiteFireStove

Movie: mov06023.mpg Campsite
Movie

Only one or two cars passed the site the entire weekend.  My thoughts turned to the bears.  I decided if they were going to eat me, they would just go ahead and do it.  But I doubted they'd bother me.  I recall a time hiking in Vermont when we had been in the woods for days.  As we walked along we began to smell hints of engine exhaust.  We hiked another mile or two before coming upon a logging operation and the skidders that they use.  If we could smell the trappings of man from a couple miles away, I suspect bears can smell it even sooner.  Since they are hunted here, I figure they know that getting in the same neighborhood with men is not a good move.  But just the same I did not cook bacon and eggs for breakfast.  Nor did I leave any food or garbage lying about.

Most of the rain had not reached my tent.  The tarp I put up kept it nice and dry and even provided a wide perimeter around it that was also dry.  A little bit had blown onto one corner and it wasn't until the next morning that I discovered that a small spot of the tent had gotten went, but the moisture was beneath the air mattress so it was a moot point.

Epilogue

In the morning, I struck camp after brewing and drinking most of a pot of coffee.  The smaller tent and absence of children made for a much quicker take-down that I am accustomed to.  With everything stowed, I drove back up to Olson Lookout Tower, around noon time.  I had not had a chance to check it out the morning I arrived, and was busy all the next day with hiking and driving.

Olson Lookout Tower - Click to Enlarge

Back home we used to visit a fire tower much like this one.  It had wooden steps and landings where this one has steel gratings.  This one has smaller landings, triangle-shaped platforms alternating corners of the structure.  I climbed to the first landing and there remembered my dubious trust of structures that go high in the air with see-through steps and floors.  I get uncomfortable walking over steel gratings in the city, and could not step on the glass floor in the CNN tower in Toronto to save my life.  So upon making the turn to go up the next flight of stairs, I paused to contemplate my fear of heights.

I reasoned that this tower was safer than the one back home because it was all steel and nothing appeared rotten.  A careful study of the railings and hand-rails convinced me that even if I fell down while climbing the steps, it would be very unlikely that I would actually be able to fit through any of the spaces and fall to the ground.  And the structure itself was rock-solid with no rattling, swaying or any other warning signs.  So I put my fears away and climbed the remaining distance to the landing below the observation deck, which is closed to the public.

The view from the top is incredible.  You can see to the horizon in all directions. 

Hello down there!View from Olson Lookout TowerView from Olson Lookout Tower

I made some images and stayed for a little while to read the graffiti and look around. 

GrafittiWhereami?Don't Look Down!Don't Look Down!
View from Olson Lookout TowerView from Olson Lookout TowerI looked down...Heep
Dedication PlaqueMarker

This place will be well worth another visit in the fall to see the foliage and catch a view when the air is clearer and cooler.

The drive home was the usual thing.  Going back through Thomas, near the historical area, I spied a few old Willys Jeeps parked near a run-down looking building. 

Old WillysOld WillysOld Willys
Old Willys - Click to Enlarge

One had some sort of drilling device on the back and they were all well past resurrection.  The little historical section on the one-way street down near the railroad grade was interesting but I decided I wanted to get home, and didn't want to spend any more money.

I drove to Davis and hit the car wash to get rid of the mud from the trail, and to set my mind for driving the long ride home.  I took Route 93 instead of 90, and found it a seemed a little bit faster than they way I came in.  I drove past Mt Storm and the area where we had visited with Rob and Lucky when they were looking at a piece of property.  I kept moving all the way into Keyser, where I stopped at the Wal*Mart around 2:00 PM.  I checked for Jeeps in the toy section then got some gas nearby.  I grabbed something to eat at Burger King and kept on moving.

My ride back was brightened up by a number of Hot Rods that I saw along the way. 

Old Cars on RoadOn the RoadOn the RoadOn the RoadSideline HillHot Rods
Sideline HillSideline HillSideline HillHot RodHot RodHot Rod

I reached Sideling Hill around 3:30 PM, but didn't stop.  About an hour later I reached the Sheetz on Route 85 near Frederick where I stopped for gas.  I took the back way home and arrived about 5:00 PM.

I got everything I wanted out of this trip:  I found the GeoCache that had made me aware of this place; I successfully navigated to the location without getting seriously lost; the snakes and bears didn't eat me; and above all, I got some peace and quiet for a couple days and got to see some of the prettiest terrain on the planet.  It wasn't a killer extreme wheeling experience, but that's not all it's cracked up to be, is it?

 


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