with Night Runs to Flagpole Knob and Old Long Run!
4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!
The club participates in the Adopt-a-Trail program and is responsible for the maintenance of two trails in the George Washington National Forest: Old Long Run, and Old Route 33. A couple times each year, a trip is organized to go out and clean the trails. While the forest users generally don't make much of a mess, other people take their trash to the forest to dump it. Unfortunately, this results in large quantities of rather strange things being left in the forest.
I organized a trip to clean up Old Long Run and Old Route 33 and took a couple trips a few weeks earlier to scout out the trails for trash so that we could accurately gauge what would be needed to remove it. We managed a couple pick-up trucks and about 20 people to do the work.
I decided to camp out at Brandywine since I have found it so pleasant and because it breaks up the drive. I loaded up on Thursday night and left for the campground on Friday afternoon, after first stopping in for Lunch with the club at the Macaroni Grill in Reston. The drive out was pleasant. Carl Smith and his daughters joined me and we made good time. We stopped for some groceries and ice in Harrisonburg and were soon parked in the campground.
The camp hostess had graciously opened the overflow area for us to use, since we expected a few groups to be camping, and because the grassy field is nicer than the dirt sites. Soon, Mark and Gretchen Long, and Max arrived, and later, Jim, Ket and Dylan pulled up. That would be everyone from OCC. A few other people from another club also showed up with trailered rigs, and they too parked in the site.
After Jim and everyone had set up camp, we made a night run to Flagpole Knob via Skidmore Dam and Dunkle Hollow Rd. Let me be the first to say that I loved the view at the top of the mountain. But the riving portion trip up was not very pleasant. It has been dry so the road was very dusty. Try that in a topless, doorless Jeep! And the road does not require 4WD so there wasn't any real entertainment.
When we got to the top, we were treated to a crystal-clear sky and meteor showers. There was lots of OOO's and Ahhh's. Eventually it got cool enough that we all got back in the trucks and drove back down the mountain.
Jackie agreed to organize a group coming from points West.
The group that camped got organized and drove over the mountain to McDorman's. We got there around 9:30. We realized the group coming from Wendy's would be coming later so we got provisions and spent some time talking. Around 11:00am, the other group arrived.
Old Long Run
Most of the group opted to go on Old Long Run. They started at the bottom and worked their way up the mountain. At the lower end, the group split into two with one group working the less traveled lower parallel portion of the trail.
Several large items were removed, including several mounted tires, a large length of heavy steel cable, and lots of other items.
An illegal entrance to the stream bed was walled in an effort to make it more clear that vehicles should stick to the trail.
Around 3pm when my group was nearing the top of Long Run Road (FR 72), clean-up operations were suspended so that the group could get to the top of the trail, consolidate trash into the pick-up trucks and the dump run completed before the dump closed.
From: John Borg
Date: Wed Aug 14, 2002 3:22 am
Subject: [OCC] Old Long Trail notes
I'll give you my version of the trail clean up. After meeting at McDorman's we raffled off a couple of t-shirts and the bumper stickers Roscoe donated to the club. Gary Heinz won the gift certificate to Outback, and Mike handed out water that was donated by Deer Park. Steve Van Bronkhorst lead the way to the trail head and then settled back to the middle of the pack with his truck for centralized collection. We picked up a TV and a pile of beer cans right off the bat. We also discovered that taking a plastic bag full of pets to the woods is easier than taking them to the shelter to be adopted. About this time we realized it was going to be a long day.
The next pile of beer cans and shell casings lead us to a make shift slaughter house. For about a quarter mile we found a number of carcasses, some old and some not. We loaded the gray tarps and game bags that were left behind. Some of which had been bagged again, but all contained misc. deer parts. Jackie had someone check the bags to make sure there were no people parts inside ...
Mike, myself and Jim C headed down the rocky spur and picked up some misc camping trash and more beer cans. Mike tossed a leg back into the woods near the remains of something, so the vultures wouldn't have to cross the road to retrieve it. The spur runs parallel below the main road, so most of the trash thrown from above rolls down to it. This is where we found several tires, some still on rims. The truck was up above so we stacked them on the back of Mike's YJ. We picked up numerous mason jars, old bottles, beer and soda cans, oil bottles, shotgun shells, rusted barrel parts, and even a green-glass Mtn Dew bottle. Need less to say some of this stuff had been there for a long time. The spur merges back into the trail, and we teamed back up with the rest of the group to continue the effort. The upper trail had the bail of fencing that still needs to go away. The unusual part of the clean up is that since most trash is thrown from a vehicle it lands about 10 feet from the trail. The bulk of what we found was in the 10 yards or further range, which indicated group activity, and effort to hide the trash from trail view. The beer cans became more plentiful as we worked our way up the trail. We also noticed that the cans were not faded as the others, as a matter of fact the Bud Light born on date was July or August, so they were obviously new discards. We did find a couple of car seats, a steering column and windshield. Oddly enough they were next to about 6 cases of empty Bush beer cans.
Halfway up the trail we spotted the area where people have been leaving the trail to drive up the stream bed. So to deter more people from thinking the stream bed was the trail we collected a large number of rocks and logs to build a wall. There were visible signs that a boundary existed at one time, so we made it bigger, bolder and with a more obvious hint to keep out of the stream bed. The wall will help keep the stream in it's bed as well as keep the idiots out. Obviously, if a dozen of us could put it up in 5 minutes it can be torn down or stacked to be passable. Hopefully the uneducated wheelers will figure out that it's been illegal and move on. In one of the pictures you can see Steve's son carrying a rock for the wall ... did you notice he has a cast on each arm? He worked his butt off that day!
By this time it was getting late, and the trucks had to get to the dump so we kicked the trash patrol into high. Steve went on ahead to meet Paul and Mark to caravan to the dump. We continued to fill trash bags. I got a kick out of hiking the trail behind Ron's TJ, because his girls could spot trash from their car seats for me to pick up. Those two little girls picked up a lot of trash too, and really earned the cookies Peg made. By the way, Peg made 8 dozen of her famous chocolate-chip cookies for the cleanup ... I think we ate them all.
We made it to the top of the trail to meet the other group. The trucks had already left for the dump and most of the other trail had already gone back home. Habo had thrown the remaining trash bags onto his roof rack for disposal later. For some of us this was our lunch break, and for others it was a good chance to relax and enjoy a cookie. To get off the mountain, the group split up, some went down a gravel access road, some went down Old Long Run, and a few of us headed down Dictum Ridge to 33. Mike lead Ron and the girls, Eric in the Disco and Habo down Dictum. It's still the miserably bumpy ride to the ledges. We confirmed that the mud pits had been blocked off. The ledges have deteriorated some, but the paving crew had already been there, and everyone came down easily. It had been a long day so we left the rocks as we found them. The bottom of the trail is private property, so we stopped and spoke to the land owner. He asked if we paid the toll, and gave us his permission to cross his property.
We hit RT 33, aired up in Harrisonburg with Mike's OBA, and headed home. On the way home we spotted a red TJ off the side of I-81 so we stopped to help. Apparently he was a Jeep dealer in Harrisonburg who had to get to DC, so of the 8 Jeeps they had on the lot, he took the one with the fewest miles on it and got a flat. He had jacked the TJ up from the frame and the axle drooped so low he couldn't get the spare on. Mike worked a bottle jack in under the axle and he was good to go. The rest of the trip home was uneventful.
I may have missed a few details that someone else can fill in. Everyone on our trail from the 3 year old to Jackie worked their butts off, especially the couple from NY in the Toyota. Thank you all for helping.
Old Route 33
Two teams were formed and I soon set off for Old Route 33, leading a band of people who would clean up whatever they found. Most of the trash was cans, bottles, and paper. But there were some interesting finds. Carl found some bottles that were pretty old; Mark and I retrieved a couch that begged a black Elvis painting.
And we found a 55-gallon drum that contained the burned remains of someone's trash. The big stuff went into Mark's pick-up truck, and the rest into trash bags that everyone carried.
We consolidated the trash bags into Mark's pick-up and then Mark, Carl and I ran the trail in reverse to pick up the other trash that had been picked up and placed on the trail for pick-up.
Somewhere along the way, Habo had found a complete deer skull and mounted on his hood using a bone-white wire tie. Talk about trail mods!
While I finished up Old Route 33, the rest of our group went over to Long Run Road (FR 72) and drove up the mountain, cleaning the sides of the road on the way. When we caught up to them, they had pretty much scoured the whole road. We met the other group that had clean-up most of Old Long Run, consolidated trash into Mark and Steve's pick-ups and then made a dash for the dump.
The dump run was interesting. Steve had been there before but it was two years ago. He could not remember the route. I managed to call 411-information between areas of no cell phone service and get the telephone number of the landfill.
I had stopped at McDorman's to get directions but the details left a lot to be desired so I wanted to make sure we didn't get lost. I also had been told that the landfill closed at 4:00 PM. By the time we reached pavement, it was 3:30 already. We still had a 12 mile drive just to get to town and no idea how far from there to the landfill.
All along the way, I tried calling the landfill but the phone just rang and rang. I was hoping I could get them on the phone and ask them to let us in if we happened to get there a couple minutes late. But I didn't have any luck. We had reached the town square in Harrisonburg and once we reached Route 81, we needed to have directions. So I tried something in a final desperate attempt to get help: I switched the CB to Channel 19 and asked for any local to give me directions.
It worked! Someone came on and gave me clear, concise directions to the landfill. It clarified and supplemented the sketchy directions that I had. Without missing a beat, I got the two pickup's and Wayne, onto the highway and down to the series of turns leading to the landfill. On the last turn, we saw the landfill in the distance. And it was already 4:02 PM... I thought for sure we were going to have to do some begging to get the trash dumped. Steve and Mark were concerned because if they could not dump the trash, they would be taking some very nasty stuff home with them!
We turned into the entrance to the landfill and found that it closed at 4:30PM Excellent! We sorted the junk into metal, tires, and everything else and dumped it all with just a few minutes to spare. Steve headed for home. Mark headed for the campsite. Wayne and I went to Tractor Supply to poke around. Then we went to Wal*Mart so I could buy a new air mattress to replace the one I had that leaked out twice the night before. Then Wayne hit the road for home and I pointed the Jeep over the mountain for the campsite.
Just as I got over the peak of the mountain, I heard a fragment of someone speaking - it was Jim's voice so I lowered the squelch and got updated on dinner plans: They had all showered and were assembling to leave for dinner. So I tagged along frazzled and stinky and we had supper at a local place. The food was cheap, fast and good.
Old Long Run
Not content with the day's activities (no 4WD), Jim, Carl and I decided to make another trip over the mountain for some fun. We decided to go on Old Long Run since it might be the best for a night run. We reached the trail in the dark, but already aired-down and disconnected. We went down to the bottom of the hill obstacle then followed the lower portion of trail to where it meets with the main trail. Then we went along our way, meeting a pair of campers next to the trail.
Further up we played on some rocks and admired the work the club had done earlier that day building a barrier to discourage entering the stream off the trail. We relished each stream crossing and soon reached the top of the trail. We drove up to the meadow and parked to watch the meteor showers. Carl and I were lucky enough to see a nice bright one almost right away. I saw a few smaller ones but that was the highlight of my star-gazing for the weekend. We sat there for awhile, played with spotlights and flash lights, then drove back down the mountain on FR72.
At the bottom I decided to reconnect and discovered that one of my pins was missing. Fortunately I had purchased spares and dug one out of my tool box to install. In the meantime, Jim and Carl caught up to me and left! By the time I got my pin in place and greasy gloves put away, they were out of radio range. I drove back and finally was able to reestablish communication when I reached the bottom of the mountain. I caught up to them at the top of the mountain.
We returned to camp. Carl went directly to bed. Jim and sat around the fire and talked for a couple hours, then called it a night.
In the morning, I awoke to find Carl and crew had gone out for breakfast, would quickly pack and hit the road upon their return. Jim and I packed up, taking our time to eat breakfast, play around a little bit, and square away our loads before finally hitting the road around 11:00 AM. We drove into Harrisonburg where I aired up. We had lunch at a Chinese Buffet place. Then we went up the hill and stopped at Tractor Supply where I bought a handful of pins to keep as spares - at 35 cents each it doesn't make sense not to have a few on hand at all times...
Then we hit the road and worked our way along the heavy traffic, up Route 81, across Route 7 and finally for me, up Route 15, over White's Ferry, and on home. A long rewarding weekend! The first run with my Jolly Roger!
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