4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!
Maria was planning to be out of town over the weekend so I checked with the kids. We had not been camping all summer and they were ready and raring to go. So we got up on Saturday morning, threw the stuff on the Jeep and headed for the woods.
For this trip I wanted to cut down on the gear we took so I loaded just the tent, air mattresses and sleeping bags, and the camp lantern. We left the stove, extra propane, extra clothes, all the cooking gear, the cooler and everything behind. We planned to eat out for the whole weekend and generally rough it.
I wasn’t organized enough to leave on Friday night so we just got our stuff together and headed out when it was loaded. We’ve done it so many times that it’s pretty routine. All the stuff is packed and ready to go. You never now when you might need to hit the road!
Saturday Road Trip
I decided to let the GPS tell us how to get to Brandywine from our home. For the past several years we’d been going in from Suburban Maryland so the route was pretty basic – I-270 to I-495; I-495 to Route 66; Route 66 to Route 33, and out to the campground. All that was out the window.
The route that the MapSource software calculated on the PC at home had us going down Route 68 heading East and then turning south to Brandywine. I didn’t like that and was happy when the GPS came up with something else. Living west of Brandywine, our GPS-calculated route takes us through some beautiful country. We’d be traveling down to Grafton, then over to Elkins, and through the hills to Seneca Rocks and on to Brandywine.
I’m still a little behind on my local history, so when we got to Phillipi, I was surprised to find a cool covered bridge and a little museum nearby.
We all needed a stretch so we stopped and visited the museum.
It appears to be an old depot or train station. Inside are a number of interesting displays, models, artifacts and photographs that chronicle the local history and the period around the Civil War.
The kids really liked it, and we were entertained by the hostess who was there. She told some of the stories about the fires and floods, the war and the several restorations of the bridge.
I found an interesting Jeep model in one of the cases. The hostess very nicely opened the case so I could make a few photographs without the glass reflections.
After we finished our visit at the museum, we walked back to Sheetz, took care of our usual Sheetz business, and then got back on the road.
The drive was wonderful, even though the weather was looking a little threatening.
We crossed the Continental Divide. I stopped for a moment and made a couple photographs of flowers and cows, and the fields. It’s always nice to be outdoors in the country!
Pretty soon we emerged from the canopy of trees over the road. There in the distance was Seneca Rocks. Again, my ignorance shows, but I had never taken the time to find out what they were. I was awestruck by the size of this land formation and realized how foolish I had been to never check out this landmark after spotting it on the map. I guess I was thinking about something along the lines of the rocks near my parents house – the size of large vehicles.
These rocks are epic in proportion and words cannot describe the splendor. I made several photographs and silently regretted we were not prepared for a hike, even on the “old lady” trail that the tourists take.
We didn’t have the time, and it was getting close to dark. We will visit this place again with the expressed purpose of going up as far as we can.
A little while after passing the rocks, we came upon a car accident that was just about cleaned up. Apparently a vehicle had spun out on one of the mountain curves. We were soon underway.
We reached Brandywine with a little light to spare and got the tent put together quickly. The kids were great helpers and it went very smoothly. This was going to be a “hit-and-run” visit as we planned to sleep the night, pack in the morning, go wheeling for a couple hours, then hit the road directly from the woods.
We grabbed some dinner at Fox’s Pizza Den, picked up some firewood and gas at the little store in Brandywine, went back to the campsite and lit a fire. We sat around for a while and when the kids couldn’t wait any more, we got into our sleeping bags and went to sleep to the soft glow of cy-a-lume light sticks.
When setting up the tent, I decided to put up the tarp for summer – suspended above the tent by tie-lines and trees for support. In the middle of the night it started pouring. What a relief that I had taken the time. When we got up, there was a nice area around the tent that was still dry, and inside the tent, everything was in great shape. We dodged the bullet on that. As a matter of fact, it was nice sleeping in the tent with the sound of the rain harmlessly above.
In the morning, we made short work of taking down the tent and packing. It had to be one of the easiest camp-strikes we’ve ever had. Not having all the extra stuff really made things go faster. Of course there was no morning cup of coffee, no breakfast before striking camp, and so on, but we’d be having breakfast in a little while so it wasn’t a big deal.
With the kids ready to go, we posed for a few pictures and then hit the road to McDorman’s to pick up breakfast and lunch supplies.
With the food all stowed away, we drove around and got onto the trail at Union Springs Road. We drove in to the big hill that some people like to climb. The Forest Service has closed it, but people take the berms for obstacles and climb the hill anyway.
Nylint Rock Crawler RC
The one luxury we did allow ourselves on this trip was the 1:6 scale radio control Rock Crawler that we brought along to play with. We had been tuning our skills at home and wanted to see what it could do on a “real” trail.
I took it out, got it aired down and disconnected (play along with me, there’s kids here…) and lined up for the first obstacle. Since this hill is off-limits, and since we’re alone; and since I never really wanted to climb this hill in my Jeep anyway, this seemed like the perfect obstacle to play on with the RC Rock Crawler.
We played for about 45 minutes and I have to say, that little toy was great. I got it to go ¾’s of the way up the hill. The only reason I didn’t drive it all the way up was the kids were getting bored because it was so far away.
I drove it back down the hill and rolled it. Fortunately nothing broke. But we decided to call it a day and pack it away for another day.
Back on the trail we came upon a side trail that is seasonally open for the hunters. The first time I had gone on this trail was with Hugh a few years ago. I was happy to see it open. We took the branch and soon found that the spur that Hugh and I had explored was now barred by a tank trap.
Instead, we followed the trail to several dead ends, including one shown on the map returning to the main trail.
I understand the need to manage the use of this natural resource, but it seems the closure of trails places a burden on the remaining trails. It would seem wise to have many opportunities available thereby reducing the stress on them. But be that as it may, it was nice to have a rare opportunity to visit this place again.
We continued back to the main trail and then to the summit of Flagpole Knob. All along the way we saw bear hunters and their dogs. When we got to the summit we caught up with Kevin and Bill from Shenandoah 4-Wheelers. Like us, they had gone out for a nice ride in the woods and chosen Flagpole Knob.
My kids explored Kevin’s rig while the “grown-ups” talked. Kevin brought me up to date on the mini-van that was abandoned in the woods. His group finally got tires on it and towed it out of the forest for Mike Alexander.
Kevin also spoke of running into a group coming up that was being counseled by Mike about staying on the trail. It seems the number of people coming here looking for “extreme wheeling” has not abated, and the behavior they exhibit continues to be the justification for closing more trails. It is very wearisome to see this happening.
The kids played some more with the RC Rock Crawler, trying it out in the deep grass and on some of the little hills near the summit.
We talked some more and then parted company.
We drove down via Dunkle Hollow. Along the way we ran into a large group of Land Rover/Range Rover drivers, with a couple of stray vehicles thrown in for good measure. They waved as they passed. Later I found their trip write-up and discovered that they had been on the trail and received counseling from Mike as well.
We drove back over the mountain and into Brandywine. I aired up and reconnected at the little store there.
Then we drove around to the antique store where we found an old Willys pick-up truck. It looked to be in great shape and made me stop and think about owning another old vehicle.
The price quickly discouraged me.
As nice as it was, it had been “restored” in a way that was inconsistent with my approach. It has a Chevy small-block, and a pretty wild interior.
I could see putting it back to original condition but for the price, it was out of my reach.
Cool Springs Park
On the way home we took a slightly different route, passing the other side of Seneca Rocks. This ended up feeding us into Route 50. Pretty soon we came upon Cool Springs Park. I drove past it at first but when the array of stuff laying out sunk in I knew we had to stop.
We took a look around and soon came face-to-face with a donkey who was very gregarious.
Teddy learned that food was available to feed the donkey. This explained why he was so eager to sniff us all over. So we went and bought some dried corn to feed him. He seemed a little disappointed as a few other people had recently fed him the same thing.
I was very interested in the steam engines, trains, cars and other machinery that was on display. It looked a little run down.
I found a memorial photo inside the store that suggests the founder had passed away a few years ago. This probably accounts for the neglect in evidence.
We had some lunch in the store. It was very interesting. These little roadside places still give a taste of what USA is all about. It’s a shame that they get overrun by nationwide chains that have no soul, no local color to them. One McDonald’s or Wal*Mart is pretty much like any other. But places like the Cool Springs Park are one of a kind!
After that it was just another long ride home. I stashed the two trunks in the garage and hung the sleeping bags out to get fresh. We’d had a great trip, with no gotcha’s! We’re just three lucky guys I guess!
Flagpole Knob GPS Data
Update 1/5/2008: GPS Data now provided in GPX format for easy transfer to your GPS!
Purchase GPS Waypoint data and access to topographic maps of this trail using Pay Pal!
GPS Waypoint data is now available for a moderate fee ($10.00 U.S.).
This contribution allows us to maintain this web site, collect and maintain GPS waypoint data, and periodically verify its accuracy. All GPS Waypoints have been verified in the field.
If you would like to purchase the coordinates for this trail, simply complete the two questions below and click "Buy Now" to pay for your purchase using Pay Pal.
For a free sample of how our GPS data is presented to our customers, click here.
IMPORTANT - After you pay with PayPal be sure to click the orange button shown circled below from the PayPal Payment confirmation Screen to go to the GPS Data you purchased!
Photos, Layout and
Design © 2005-2008 Paul M. Provencher All Rights
Contents of this Web Site may not be used without written permission.
Visitors Since 10/06/2005
Last Updated 02/09/2008 12:46:20 AM -0500