Camp Jeep Pre-Run 6/12/04

Rocky Hill climb - Click to Enlarge

Waypoints | GPS Track Log Legend

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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.

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.

Carl Airs DownOn Shoe Creek
On the Trail - Click to Enlarge
On the Trail

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.

Rocky Hill climbRocky Hill climb
Rocky Hill climb - Click to Enlarge

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 top.

Rocky Hill climb - Click to Enlarge
Rocky Hill climb

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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.

Obstacle - Click to Enlarge
Near Crabtree Falls MeadowNear Crabtree Falls Meadow


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. 

Shoe Creek GPS Track Legend
Shoe Creek GPS Track Legend Detail - Click to Enlarge

Shoe Creek Vertical Track Profile

Carl went to sleep and after finishing my notes, so did I.

Near Lovingston - Click to Enlarge


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.

Morning ArrivalsMorning ArrivalsMorning Arrivals
Morning Arrivals - Click to Enlarge
Morning ArrivalsMorning ArrivalsMorning Arrivals

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.

OCC Mafia - Click to Enlarge

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.

 Trail Assignments
Trail Assignments - Click to Enlarge

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.

Trail Assignment directions


Muster - Click to Enlarge
MusterMusterHow'd He Do Dat?


Muster Field Panorama
Panorama (Not for slow connections...)

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.

Driver's MeetingDriver's MeetingDriver's MeetingDriver's MeetingDriver's MeetingDriver's Meeting

Mr. BoucherMr. BoucherMr. Boucher


Doug kicks backDriver's Meeting

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. 

Doug's Hot Ride - Click to Enlarge

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's CherokeePaul's TJMike's YJCJYJ

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.

Jason on the trail - Click to Enlarge

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. 

Tree AttackTrail workTrail work

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.

Jason on small obstacleJason on small obstacleJason on small obstacle
Jason on small obstacle - Click to Enlarge
Jason on small obstacleJason on small obstacle

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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.

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We ate lunch while we waited for the work crew.

Tree AttackTree attackReady to Winch fallen treeStrap Ready
Trail E - Click to Enlarge

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.

Paul on small obstaclePaul on small obstaclePaul on small obstaclePaul on small obstaclePaul on small obstacle
Paul on small obstacle - Click to Enlarge

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.

Fireman turning aroundFireman turning aroundFireman turning aroundFireman turning around

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.

Paul on small obstaclePaul on small obstaclePaul on small obstaclePaul on small obstaclePaul on small obstacle
Paul on small obstacle - Click to Enlarge

The rest of the group ran the obstacles. 

Mike on small obstacleMike on small obstacleMike on small obstacle

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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 knee. 

Movie: mov05684.mpg Not EnteredJump Mike!

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.

Jason crossingJason crossingJason crossing
Paul Crossing - Click to Enlarge

The rest of the group used a little more loud pedal, all reached the top without any major drama.

Mike after crossing - Click to Enlarge

Ready to Cross - Click to Enlarge
Climbing Out - Click to Enlarge
CrossingClimbing Out

Ready to Cross - CLick to Enlarge

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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. 

Done Crossing

We all got across the stream, over the obstacles, and back up the hill after re-crossing the stream.

Ready to CrossCrossingClimbing OutHold On

Jason preparing to cross


Jason on small obstacleJason on small obstacleDone with obstacle


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...


Carl and I met up, did the Jeep Wash, gas, and then headed toward Charlottesville, where we stopped for the buffet at KFC.  From there we made good time driving home, getting in about three hours after leaving Oak Ridge.  A long day, but a lot of fun!

GPS Track Legend 1 - Click to Enlarge

GPS Track Legend

Camp Jeep Vertical Track Profile


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