already visited this area once this
year. We went in from Gauley Ridge, after running Old Long Run. This time I
decided to come in through Broadway. Gauley Ridge Road is still closed due to
problems that the Forest Service had with vandalism earlier this year. I chose to go
in to the trail system from the exit point we used last time since it brought us to the
fun parts quicker than going all the way around and up FR 85.
We stopped, disconnected and
aired down. The kids played around while we took care of getting ready to hit the
first time I came here we had explored a
piece of trail that weaves around the side of a mountain. My hope was that this time
we'd do the same, and clear the fallen timber that stopped us last time.
So we drove in making a
beeline for the appropriate waypoint. Along the way, some of the guys took
side-spurs in the hope of finding new trails. In one case, it was just a parallel
section that rejoined the trail; in another case, the trail dead-ended on a hunting camp.
Eventually, we reached the
intersection for the side trail I was seeking. I climbed a small mound to try out my
new traction devices. Hugh attempted to follow and discovered he could not make it
over. Next Carl came and with great flourish (and "no lockers") also made
it over the mound. This lead me to believe that tires were the distinguishing factor
in overcoming this obstacle. Carl and I run TrXuS tires; Hugh has 30"
GS/A's. I cannot remember for sure, but am almost positive the Jim also climbed this
obstacle with his Pro-Comp Xterrains.
All along the way, Hugh
endured, with good humor, our running tease about his "Stocker" status. It
must be added that he did not have any trouble keeping up with us, and took most of the
optional challenges just as well as "the Big Jeeps".
We drove the side spur to
the point where the logs blocked our path. Saws were deployed. While Carl and
Jim started in on one of the large trees, Hugh scouted ahead on foot with his hand-held
CB, to check for more downed trees. I rigged my winch cable to another large tree
and moved it out of the way.
Hugh checked in to report
that the trail ahead was strewn with many fallen trees - we could have spent the whole
afternoon clearing the trail. So we finished up our activities and stowed our
gear. During my work with the tree I discovered that my winch cable had a flat spot
in it where it probably got kinked. I shall have to swap it out for the one that
Mike gave me. I did find the hand throttle was quite useful for keeping the engine
running fast enough to charge the battery while winching. and the extra straps and
D-Rings that I added to my gear came in handy. This time around, I was much more
aware of safety and did not get my fingers pinched...
Once packed, we took a lunch
break. The kids played while we discussed various things, including general plans to
slowly work the fallen trees on this trail. It will probably take several visits to
clear, especially since some of the trees are quite large.
Soon everyone was finished
eating and we all turned around to head back out the way we came. Hugh demonstrated
the ample capabilities of the stock Jeep by crawling up the hill during his turn
Carl demonstrated the
capabilities of his Jeep by doing the same. All during the day we encountered other
drivers, mostly hunters, on the trail. All were pleasant. I made a point to
talk to as many as possible.
When we finally got back to
the trail junction, we headed further up the main trail to a short turn-out where we had
lunch the first time I came here. This provided an opportunity for people to do some
playing on rocks.
I was busy chasing my kids
so did not have much of a chance to do anything except move my Jeep out of the way and
generally ingratiate myself with the little ones. Jim found a large boulder to
scratch his belly, some small ones to give an excuse to use his winch. And a
difficult crossing was irresistible.
I also forgot to mention
that from about the time we got into the woods, it started to rain and continued all day
and night. It was still pleasant to be out wheeling, but this did complicate things
some, especially for keeping the kids warm and dry. The constant
"in-and-out" really takes its toll on me. The kids need help getting up
and in; need to be reminded not to tread on the seats, need to put on or take off their
coats, and need to be freed or buckled in to their seats. A "quick" stop
for me, with them along can take 10 minutes. Sometimes I just want to stop real
quick. That can trigger a battle of wills when "the other kids" get out
and I want to keep mine inside to reduce the stop time. I spent a large part
of this trip managing this, and this greatly handicapped my ability to tackle obstacles
and to relax with my friends, and made me a little "bitchy". I love having
the kids along but have to remember the extra effort involved.
Once everyone had played on
the rocks, we went back to the main trail and continued up the hill to the "red
hill" that we had so much fun on last time. (I had gone onto the hill but
got high-centered on my transfer case skid plate. Two runs at it had not produced
success so I went up the side trail, which was nearly as intimidating.) This trip I
was expecting to do better, thanks to the bigger tires with more aggressive tread, and
because of the lockers front and rear. At first glance, the hill seemed unchanged so
I line up the way I did last time and tried to crawl up. It seemed to be going quite
well - I had much better traction and did not feel any chassis scrape. Just when I
thought I would crest the top of the first break-over point, my front wheels climbed for
the sky! It is one of those sick weightless feelings that get the heart
racing. There are no pictures...
I dumped the clutch and let
the Jeep roll back a few feet, coming back down to the ground in the front. When I
put the brakes on, thinking I was back on safe ground, the front end started to go up
again from the stopping action. I eased off the brakes and rolled back off the
approach. Phew! The others were all excited thinking I was going to flop
over... I am glad that I didn't.
That slowed us down for a
minute. While Carl, Jim and I pondered the "hard" line, Hugh climbed up
the side of the hill, turned around at the top, and then came down. We concluded
that although the hill appears to be composed of decayed sandstone, it had changed since
last time we were there, with the approach becoming somewhat eroded and steeper.
That would account for my near disaster.
Next, Carl decided to make a
swipe at it. He lined up slightly differently and went up as far as he felt
comfortable. He got light in front and backed off before getting air. Just for the
sake of comparison, here is what it looked like when I tried it in May:
That left Jim. He
really studied the problem and finally concluded that there were two possible ways to take
the hill. His first line up put him on the same approach that Carl and I had tried,
with a slightly different approach angle. This didn't work for him so he backed down
and took his second choice. We threw a strap on his front bumper to use as a tether
in case he got his front wheels up. After a couple swipes, he was able to get up
over the initial hump and climbed the hill.
Hugh, meanwhile had parked
over on the side, with a nice creative flair!
After all the excitement was
over, we were left standing there at about 1:30 in the afternoon, in the rain, trying to
decide if we had time to something else. We knew that Gauley Ridge Road was closed
so did not expect to be able go back to Old Long Run that way. On the way out, we
ran into some guys driving a Cherokee, so I asked them if they knew of any more
trails. They said to take a right at the road and that there were more that
I ran this by the group and
they agreed to give it a try. We made one brief peek at a little meadow that had a
dead-end spur and then headed west on FR 85 up to where it joined Long Run Road (FR
72). Ah yes... Now I remember - Long Run Road (AKA FR 72) goes through to Gauley
Ridge Road near Clines Hacking. We could drive down Gauley Ridge Road to the top of
Old Long Run! Excellent. Everyone agree that this would be fun so we drove
along down to the top of Old Long Run.
River | Old Long Run
Old Long Run
Our trip down Old Long Run
was typical of most visits. The trail was in good condition, with the brief
off-camber section at the top somewhat more eroded than before but still passable.
Further down, we did not find any fallen trees, so were able to keep moving. We
found all the stream crossings in good condition and had no trouble making way.
Eventually we reached a spot
where hunters had set up a large camp. Parked right in the middle of the trail, was
a pickup truck with a trailer. The hunters were unloading steel cots. I got
out and scouted a path around them, then drove it. By the time I got to the other
side, the pickup truck and trailer had been moved, and everyone else came through on the
Next, I took a left just
before a crossing, and followed it to where it terminated. I mistakenly thought it
was the lower side of the trail leading to the bottom of the hill climb. I was
wrong. We back-tracked out and continued down the trail just a little bit further
and took the correct branch. Somewhere in here, Carl and Hugh had traded
Jeeps. We were entertained by their discussion of how the Jeeps felt. Hugh was
impressed with how clean the inside of Carl's Jeep appeared. I maintain that I heard
a vacuum cleaner noise coming from Hugh's Jeep while Carl was driving it but this has not
been confirmed... When we got to the hill climb, we all crawled up without incident
and continued to where we aired up and reconnected.
I struggled and failed to
keep the kids out of the road, and out of the mud puddles. I got my jacket filthy
while airing up and connecting. Tomi ended up whining all the way to our next stop
about his wet and dirty shoes. (Fortunately I had brought spares). The rain
and the kids were taking a toll on my otherwise good mood...