Beaver Hole

Jeep at Beaver Hole

12/6/07

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Waypoints

 

"Faceless Man"

I spent a day by the river
It was quiet and the wind stood still
I spent some time with nature
To remind me of all that's real
It's funny how silence speaks sometimes when you're alone
And remember that you feel
I said it's funny how silence speaks sometimes when you're alone
And remember that you feel
Again I stand, Lord I stand,
against the Faceless Man
Again I stand, Lord I stand,
against the Faceless Man

From "Human Clay"
Written by Tremonti/Stapp Published by Tremonti/Stapp Music
(Adm. by Dwight Frye Music, Inc.)/Dwight Frye Music, Inc. (BMI)
Produced, Engineered & Mixed by John Kurzweg

Prologue

To say I had not been wheeling in a while would be an understatement.  My last trip was a solo to avenge my debacle in a mud hole that I never should have gone into.

The night before this trip I was driving and my friend Mike send me a message inquiring on my progress in the snowfall to my destination (home).  For the next few hours I sent him updates about my trip over Keyser Ridge, Coopers Rock, and finally my abortive attempt to make the last 120 feet up my driveway on tires made for high speed driving on dry pavement.  Snow was never an option and making it this close to home without incident was a blessing.

Later that evening I spoke with Mike and we agreed it was time to visit Beaver Hole and make some images of winter.  The nights snowfall was just enough to make everything pretty and the temperatures in the teens, combined with no wind, promised to leave us some great photo opportunities.

The next morning I got up, managed to get my car up the last 60 feet of driveway after some shoveling, sanding and swearing.  Next I jumped in the Jeep and turned the key to warm it up.  "CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK CLICK !"  DOH!  It had been at least a week since I had driven it and it had been quite cold the last few nights.  It was 12 degrees at the moment and that just didn't combine for good starting conditions.  So I got the charger out, put it on the battery, and gave Mike a call to tell him I was running a little late.

I made breakfast and spent about forty minutes getting squared away then went out to see what I had.  The battery had come up and I was able to get the Jeep started and loaded.  We were off!  The extra money spent on the Optima battery is well spent as it tolerates this sort of abuse without a burp.

I met Mike at Ashebrooke.  After a quick stop to get a sandwich and some other things for lunch, we loaded into the Jeep and I set a course for the "parking area" on the trail to Beaver Hole.  We followed the route that the GPSr calculated and took a little tour of the Cheat Lake and Glenmark area...  Once I remembered how to operate my GPSr..., we got on our way.  We drove up Route 68 to Cooper's Rock and then snaked our way to the trail that leads down to Beaver Hole.  Since acquiring my '76, I have a lot more storage for maps and data so I have taken to keeping my off-road waypoints in memory.  This was handy because it meant I had the extra marks I put in for the road down to Beaver Hole.  This meant simply telling the GPSr to take me to "Road", seen below on the map, and we were on our way down the trail.

Trail

Beaver Hole Track

The road descends moderately past a few homes, a few seasonal places.

Gray Barn
Gray Barn

Along the way we stopped to make some images of a snow field and the view in the distance.

View from Pisgah

Pisgah Field

Pisgah Field

Pisgah Field

Jeep at Pisgah

Across the Canyon

Across the Canyon

Fall's Last Fling

Finally we reached the point in the road where the snow plow stopped plowing.  To the right of that the road continued down into the woods.  Once on the trail we flushed out a Coyote who had been walking along the trail until we caught up to him.  It turned 90 degrees and headed into the woods and up the ridge.  By the time we stopped, he was too far away to be photographed and this was all we saw of it...

Trail down to Beaver Hole

The trail eventually had no tracks on it other than from wildlife and the ones that we would leave behind.  Now we were 4-Wheeling!  At the point where the road makes a 90-degree turn, it gets more narrow and starts the 2-mile gradual descent to the bottom of the canyon.  I like to say there are four or five "filters" along the way that challenge people to pass.

The first is a rough spot where it looks like most people park.  Just following the "parking lot", there is a sharp drop off from erosion.  It's not much of an obstacle for high-clearance vehicles but it does prevent others from going further than this.  There are lots of "wet" spots on the trail.  They consist mainly of places where the water collects and the trail gets rutted.  None of the ones on the trail on the way down approach anything like the fun I had on the other side of the river in June...

Trail down to Beaver Hole

The Ride on the Trail down to Beaver Hole

Looking Down the Canyon Wall

The second spot is where a small stream crosses the trail.  Today it barely would get attention from someone who didn't know it was there.  The photo below makes it look very tame.  And with some moderate attention, it is.  But it was a lot more difficult the last time I came down here with the kids.

Rough Spot in the Trail

This time it was just another spot where water crosses the trail and some rocks line the sides.  This demonstrates how conditions change over time, sometimes for the better (probably because somebody did some repair work...) and sometimes for the worse (erosion, water build-up, etc.).  Mike decided to take a picture of the Jeep "before"...

Paul and Jeep

I stopped in the middle of the stream while Mike made some images of the water and ice.

Water and IceWater and Ice

Water and IceWater and Ice

Then we moved on through the spot with no drama and no problems.  The trail was quiet and pretty with lots of wildlife tracks.

The Trail

Further down there are a couple narrow spots.  Then two more "filters": a rocky wet crossing over Christopher Run, and a narrow spot where a large boulder must be avoided on one side and a little erosion on the other.  Since I had already noticed changes in landmarks from my last visit, I decided to walk ahead and check these because they represented more difficult challenges that would only be worse for change.  First I crossed the stream.

Paul takes a walk to check the crossing and path ahead

Nothing major was different that would present any problems.  The snow conceals the boulder field that forms the bottom of the stream-bed when the water is running strong.  This meant I would take my time getting through so I would not break anything.  Next was the passage at the boulder.  Again, things looked fairly stable and unchanged since my last visit.

Paul takes a walk to check the crossing and path ahead

Since Mike would be taking pictures, I used this opportunity to place my footprints where I wanted to have my left tires.  This would put me on the correct line for crossing the stream and getting past the boulder.  The trick with the stream was to avoid the high rocks to the right and to avoid falling off the ledge on the left.  The trick with the boulder is to avoid side-swiping the Jeep on the boulder and to avoid falling off the edge on the left.  Both spots are wide enough to achieve these goals, but the sweet spot is narrow. 

Editorial

This is where the fiction of Jeep commercials gets people into trouble.  You know - the video that's playing to some fast-tempo rock music (so far so good) with some sort of Jeep making rooster tails in whatever form of terra happens to be available (so much for "Tread Lightly") and then whipping around curve after curve in the wilderness (remember:  "Professional Driver on Closed Course"; I'm thinking "Idiot with a heavy foot") and finally the coupe-de-grace, the airborne leap over some obstacle, followed by the ballet-graceful landing (no flying parts, no leaking fluids, and all passengers bruise free...). 

Bunk.  None of that ever happens except in commercials and in groups of newbie Jeep owners with bottomless credit limits.  These are the folks who trash the reputation of responsible off-highway enthusiasts.

These obstacles are negotiated in 4-LO, first gear, with cumulative gear reductions taking us down to about 60:1.  The vehicle is moving at some fraction of a mile-per-hour, and every creak and groan of the suspension is an individual sound.  These things could be done as shown in the commercials, but it would be very hard on all concerned (vehicle, environment, people) and generally produces broken parts (human and equipment) and unplanned excursions (vehicles off-trail and hopelessly broken and stuck).  Needless to say, this is not the approach I recommend or take.

Mike crossed the stream and took a few photos of my slow-motion crossing and pass by the boulder. 

Boulder Squeezes the Trail

Ready...

Aim...

Fire!

Very boring stuff.  But this is the last major "filter" on the trail, and appears to be another spot where some decide it's time to walk.  After that, there really isn't much of anything other than the odd narrow spot here and there.  Oh yeah, and one wide, very long, very wet stretch that looks like another mud-hole disaster.  I should have taken a picture of it and my tracks going past it to the right, which could have been entitled "Practicing Lessons Learned"....

Soon we reached the bottom and Beaver Hole.  We came to make images, so here are several.  There's not much to say.  Put your mouse over the image to get the caption which tells something about what's in the picture.

Cooper Rock from Beaver Hole

Cheat Canyon from Beaver Hole

We soon found the evidence of the namesake of this place.  I noticed a strange dragging track in the snow.  It was the unmistakable path of a beaver dragging its tail in the snow. 

Beaver Tail Trail at Beaver Hole

Where's the Beaver?

Careful observation revealed the odd footprints to either side.  With no beaver in sight, we spent some time making images, eating lunch, talking and then loaded up to make the drive back up the hill.

The view of the Cooper's Rock area was spectacular.  With temperatures around 20-degrees, the air was clear.  There was no wind so the fresh snow on the trees was not disturbed.  The sun was out with a few clouds.  We were there around mid-day which is perhaps not the most dramatic time of the day for making images, but I was still happy with the results.

Cooper Rock from Beaver Hole

Cooper Rock from Beaver Hole

Cooper Rock from Beaver Hole

Cheat Canyon Wall near Cales and Bee Run

Cheat Canyon near Scott Run

Cheat Canyon near Scott Run

Bridge footing at Scott Run

Woods near Beaver Hole

Jeep at Beaver Hole

Woods near Beaver Hole

Woods near Beaver Hole

Woods near Beaver Hole

Woods near Beaver Hole

Woods near Beaver Hole

Mike behind a tree
Mike at Beaver Hole

Sky in Cheat Canyon

Sky in Cheat Canyon

Sky in Cheat Canyon

Hill near Scott Run, Beaver Hole

Scott Run Crossing at Beaver Hole

View of Coopers Rock from Beaver Hole

Bridge footing at Scott's Run

Seating Area at Beaver Hole

Scott's Run

Clearing at Beaver Hole

Scott's Run

Table at Beaver Hole

We stopped briefly to see if we could find one of the Geocaches that are in the vicinity, but the snow was too deep and it didn't seem worthwhile to dig around looking for it.

On the trip back out we had no problems, staying in the tracks I made coming down.  Soon we reached pavement and the main road.  On the way back to Mike's truck, I took Sandy Springs Road and showed him that area.

There's not much that can be said about Beaver Hole that would improve on the pictures we took.  It was crisp and clean, beautiful and very very quiet.  Just the kind of place for a day like this!

Epilogue

When I got home I put the Jeep back on the battery charger for a couple more hours because even though the Jeep started on it's own, the voltage meter indicated that the battery was down a couple volts.  And this time, I got off the trail without incident!

Beaver Hole GPS Data

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