Flagpole Knob via Dunkle Hollow



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Way Points


Last week I planned to approach Flagpole Knob from Dunkle Hollow by Skidmore Dam.  It turned out that we went up the Forest Road 225 and across via the trail that runs along the ridge past Meadow Knob.  We spent some time checking out side trails and ran out of time before we could check out Dunkle Hollow.  So this portion of the trail was left unexplored.


When I got up on Sunday, we found most of our weekend chores done and Maria liked the sound of a ride on a sunny day up the mountain.  So we packed the coolers and hit the road for Harrisonburg with the kids.  After a lunch stop at McDonalds and neighboring SubWay, we hit the road and drove to the trail entrance near Skidmore Dam.


2:00 p.m.

The trail is a recently graded forest road that runs down from Route 33 and along the side of the reservoir.  Not far from where we entered the trail, we encountered a couple at a dry stream crossing, driving a Honda Civic.  It was clear they were not going to negotiate the streambed so I made for the right side of the trail to go around them.  The woman was out of the car and had a "please stop" look on her face so we did.  She explained that they were there looking for two friends that had gone missing the night before and were "wandering around" out here somewhere...  Well this does not sound good...  They themselves were not well prepared.  They had a cell phone ("No Service") but I saw no signs of a map and certainly no signs of a worthy vehicle.  In truth they could probably make the trail with the Honda but it would have been a nasty, grating ride at best.  They told us there was a search party.   But they said they had no radios, and no way to contact anyone.

I don't know what to say here.  We left them where we found them.  They weren't stuck, the road was a few hundred yards away, with no branches between where we found them and the way out.  I supposed we could have spent all afternoon poking in to every dead-end trail that was out there trying to find their friends, and in hindsight, that is exactly what we probably should have done.  Hindsight being what it is...  But with their assurance of the search party, I guess at the time it did not seem at all callous to keep our plans and move on.  Now I wonder...  I found this advice from the Forest Service about how to be safe in the forest.  Take a minute to read it...

We continued along the trail and wound along up to the top.  It was at times mildly off camber.  So mildly so that it would not matter a bit unless the surface was slippery.  I think this trail is probably passable most of the time, but it is very narrow and has some tight switch-backs.   There are a number of turns that I failed to mark with waypoints. 


We followed the most well defined trail (the one with bulldozer tread marks on the edges...) all the way to the top.  Near the top we saw a large bird flush out and move down a few trees.  It turned out to be a very large owl.  So we "crawled" up to where it was and proceeded to watch it for a while with binoculars.  It was as interested in us as we were in it.  The kids were mesmerized, and Maria later called it the high point of her day.

3:00 p.m.

Flagpole Knob (Slate Springs Mountain summit) was just as pretty as it was on the last trip.  We parked and turned the kids loose to run around and play on a little path there. 

TedTed and Tom
Ted and Tom

We snacked, took pictures, made some video, and took in the view.  A pair of women came along driving a two-wheel drive mini-SUV.  One was sort of spotting for the other, and walking a dog.   They came right up and we talked for a few minutes.  They took out their other dog and walked them both.  I gave them some trail info, along with the advice not to attempt the trail beyond Meadow Knob, since it seems a bit tricky for someone with only 2-Wheel drive.  They were a little bit better prepared than the last people we encountered, with a DeLorme's map.

Paul and TJ

We finished up our visit by walking along down one of the trails that reaches the summit from the south side.  It too has been closed with a berm, and much evidence of trash that I found too disgusting to retrieve and take with us...  With the Jeep loaded up, we headed out to Briery Gap Road and down the mountain.



4:15 p.m.

Once again we visited the Jeep wash, got the grunge off the Jeep and hit the road for home.  Another great day in the GWNF!

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Last Updated 02/09/2008 11:22:38 AM -0500