I had changed job assignments last
year. As a result, I was unable to guide at Camp Jeep. At the last minute,
after I had canceled all my plans, and prepared to work through the week of the event,
work plans changed and I could have gone to Camp Jeep! So I settled for a little ride to Old Long Run and Dictum
Ridge. It would be one of the last times I ran Old Long Run before it closed,
and the first time I ran Dictum - also the closest I have come to date to rolling, but I
digress... Suffice to say that I missed attending Camp Jeep but somewhat made up for
it in the end.
This year I signed up for a slot as a
guide at Jeep Jamboree and ran the first pre-run.
Then my brother finalized his vacation plans and they conflicted with my plans to run Jeep
Jamboree. And since my brother had not visited me in 11 years, I canceled my plans
to staff Jeep Jamboree. I guess fate has a funny way of working things out. I
did manage to capture some more trail data about new trails at Oak Ridge on the Jeep
Jamboree pre-run, and the day was very pleasant.
The list of trail guides went out for
Camp Jeep 2004 and I found my name in a slot to guide. I checked my schedule and
started arranging things so I would not end up missing the event like last year.
Everything looked good, and the option of attending one of two required pre-runs allowed
me to keep my plans to go wheeling in GWNF with Steve
and Jandy Leibl on May 15.
I decided to camp on Friday night and
planned to try going light - small two-man tent, smaller air mattress, sleeping bag,
pillow and personal hygiene items. I would get meals at the local fast food (which I
would have done anyway had I driven down), and my two small coolers for trail food and
beverages. This would reduce my packing and travel activities to several minutes
instead of several hours. This plan was modified somewhat by Carl's plan to bring
his camping trailer. Last year,
he graciously invited me to share the space and I was spared the trouble of carrying my
camping gear. So I jumped at the chance to do it again.
We made plans to leave the Washington, DC
metropolitan area early on Friday, hoping to beat the traffic and perhaps have time to
visit Shoe Creek like we planned but did not last year. We shall see!
I got ready by changing my spark plugs, wires, distributor cap and rotor, and changing the
oil. I ran into complications with the distributor cap but managed to apply a
work around that hopefully will get me by. I also had
installed and done some testing with a new GPS and spent
several hours compiling GPS tracks from previous trips to Oak Ridge. I was able to
organize track and waypoint data to load into each of my GPS units. This will allow
me to stay on the trail without relying too heavily on my memory. There are a few
places where the trail isn't easy to remember and the tracks are indispensable. Of
course, there are so many people there who know the trails well, this is not much more
than a crutch for me than a critical aspect of navigation. But one never knows...
As planned, Carl and I hit the road at
Noon on Friday. We stopped at Burger King in Gaithersburg and had lunch. We
ran into a little traffic along the way but nothing too bad. We stopped to get some
gas at the Sheetz in Haymarket, VA. We stopped at Wendy's in Charlottesville for
something to eat, drink and so on.
By 4:30 PM we had landed at the camping
field at Oak Ridge. A few people were already set up, and we heard some crews on the
CB out on the trail doing some clean-up activities. A weather alert with heavy wind
and rain warnings came in so Carl left the camping trailer folded up and we headed out to
Shoe Creek Side Trip
I pulled up the GPS route I had laid out
and activated it. We followed the route to the lower Shoe Creek entrance, and
stopped to air down. Carl didn't disconnect, but I did, remembering my last trip to Green Ridge and the discomfort
that we experienced being aired up and connected. I aired down to about 17 p.s.i.,
not as much as usual.
We drove along without any trouble and
soon reached the rocky hill climb that we like to run. I turned in and crawled up to
the point where I popped a bead last
time here. I could not get by the rocks and didn't want to try too hard since I
needed to be able to drive back to camp and run the Camp Jeep trails tomorrow. I
think with some spotting, I might have been able to get up.
Carl gave it a try and got hung up in the
same spot. So I spotted him up the hill past the rough stretch, and he drove to the
I took the bypass and we continued up
this trail to the top of the mountain, then back down, and out to Crabtree Meadow.
All along the way, the trail was beautiful, and in spite of the heavy rain, very pleasant
to be out in the woods.
After visiting the new "faux
wood" outhouse at Crabtree Meadow, we drove out to Route 56 and followed a second GPS
Route that I had prepared to find our way back to our campsite on Oak Ridge. We made
a short detour to have dinner at Luigi's on Route 29, across from the Village Inn. I
had a great Eggplant Parmegian and Carl had a sandwich that he was very pleased with.
After dinner we went back to the
campsite. By then, more people had arrived and the rain had stopped. We set up
the camping tent and moved our stuff inside. I stayed up for a while downloading my
Shoe Creek GPS track and making some notes about the day.
Carl went to sleep and after finishing my
notes, so did I.
The time to get up came fast! I got
up a couple times to water the trees and the next thing I knew there was a crowd outside
our camper chatting up a storm. I got up and loaded my gear into the Jeep.
When I was ready, we drove to McDonalds and grabbed breakfast. Mike Ball caught me
on the CB and requested a #3 breakfast meal be delivered to him at the muster field.
I added it to my list of stuff to get and parked. There were quite a few people
arriving for the day, stopping to get gas and so on.
Once I got breakfast sorted, we went to
the muster field. There, we met some of the other people with OCC, and of course,
lots of other people that we know from these events.
The first step was lining up for trail
assignments. I got old Trails 5 and 7.
That was good. I consider both
interesting but extremely easy trails under dry conditions. If it rains, both can
get a bit tough, which would make things interesting. I have good GPS data for Trail
7, and a really good portion of Trail 5. But one of the loops on Trail 5 escaped my
tracking and will be filled in on this trip.
After getting trail
assignments and maps, we sorted ourselves into lines for the trail we were going to run on
this pre-run. I decided that it would be best to run Trail 5 (now "Trail
E") and capture that missing piece of GPS track for the event. Also, I like
that trail just a little bit better.
I found the line to be
formed with Jason at the lead. I parked behind him and then wandered off to the
general area where the driver's meeting is held.
Panorama (Not for slow
After a while, the whole crowd was
assembled and the driver's meeting got started. Carla and Chris ran down the long
list of items that are discussed and explained, making sure that everybody knew what is
expected of them. This took a couple hours.
After the meeting was complete, everybody
made their way to their Jeeps. Doug D. (OCC) was having problems with his cooling
system, so we spent a couple minutes looking at that.
Then I went back to the Jeep and waited
for our group to be waved on. Pretty soon, Kenny Smith came around and read us a few
more items and then sent us out to the trail.
There were five vehicles in our group.
Jason led and we drove to the trail
head. After unlocking the gate, we went in and locked up behind ourselves.
Then we drove the easy part of the trail. Pretty soon it got rougher and tighter so
we slowed down.
Along the way, we stopped to
clean up fallen trees, branches protruding into the trail that participants might not want
rubbing on their vehicles, and generally cleaning up one more time.
The driving was fairly
uneventful. We took the second loop on the trail and soon encountered a small pair of
obstacles. Jason went through, using his vehicle to teach me how to spot a
Cherokee. Owing to the longer wheelbase and slightly different rear configuration, I
was able to get him to drag the very tip of his exhaust pipe across the rock. There
was some damage, as the tip got slightly scraped and a little bent, mostly cosmetic, but
it sounded hateful.
I was going to drive down
but back in the line, a tree branch that was hanging low had sliced into a soft top.
So it was decided to call the work crew to come out and cut down the trees that were
broken over the trail and posing a risk. In the meantime, the driver of the Jeep
with the newly ripped top did some winching in an attempt to bring the trees down.
He got one down but the other was stubborn and would not come down.
We ate lunch while we waited
for the work crew.
Pretty soon the guys with
chain saws came and cleared out the trees. Someone else chiseled out a sharp rock
that had caused a few flats on the last run. With the trail maintenance done, we got
back to the business of driving the trail. I decided I wanted to take a different
line coming down off the first obstacle. I reasoned that I could go to the left and
then after backing up a bit, drive between a tree and a rock, avoiding the drop-off and
other sharp rocks. So I lined up and started down. I got to the point where I
had planned to stop and back up. Then my left-front tire dropped into a deep hole
and got wedged between the ground and a large rock up against my wheel. There was no
going forward, and no turning my wheel. So after getting out to look at it, I backed
up out of the hole and as I did, my rear slipped enough that I was able to drive between
the tree and the rock.
I stopped while the work
crew got turned around. Some more dead-wood was taken out of the way, and soon they
were on their way.
The next obstacle was more
interesting, and potentially risky. The trail follows a narrow path over a rock and
by a tree on the left. To the right, a rock shelf drops off into a little pool of
water and silt. I lined up to keep as much to the left as possible, and drove over
it without any problems.
The rest of the group ran
At one point, Mike was
filming the CJ as it went over the second obstacle. I had warned him to watch the
Jeep since he was somewhat in the way. Not surprisingly, he had to jump out of the
way. He landed right in the middle of the silt pool and went in up to his
He got some water on his
camera but not so much that it was damaged. I took his camera so he could get
himself out of the mud. We all had a good laugh and then got going again. Mike
drove over the obstacles
On the way back we crossed
the stream again. This stream crossing is one of my favorites, not for the stream
but for the climb out on the other side. At the last Jeep Jamboree, the climb out of
the stream wasn't too tough but the hill was causing some trouble. This year the
climb out and the hill were both fairly rough. Jason and I didn't have any troubles.
The rest of the group used a
little more loud pedal, all reached the top without any major drama.
We drove the rest of the
trail and returned to the muster field to check in. Then we turned right back around
and ran the trail again. This time it went a lot faster because we had cleared all
the trees and branches from the trail. Going back down to the crossing, Mike and
Jason got a little sideways but got down OK.
We all got across the
stream, over the obstacles, and back up the hill after re-crossing the stream.
The second time around, we
ran the trail much more quickly, finishing up a little after 4:00 PM. Everybody
parted ways and I ended up being the last person left on the muster field. My
cheap-o compressor died on it's first trip out so it will be returning to the store as
soon as possible. I have found that these compressors are good but you sometimes
don't get a good one first try...