German River/Old Long Run

The Trail Group


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Everybody in our little band was eager to get back in the woods.  I wasn't sure where we could go that would be "new" or challenging but after kicking around a few options we settled on State Line.  As a rain location we chose German River.  The weather made our final selection for us.  We did not want to be on State Line in the rain so when the forecast predicted a wet Saturday, we abandoned our plans for State Line and set our course for German River.


We made plans to meet at the Junction of Routes 15 and 66, at the Sheetz service station.  Carl and I met earlier in our neck of the woods and drove to meet Hugh and Jim.  After getting reacquainted with our long-lost friend Hugh and his son, Shea, we hit the road for Broadway, VA.  When we got off Route 81, a fuel stop was called for so we hit the 7-11 just off the exit.

Hugh and the boys


German River | Old Long Run

German River

We had 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 trail.

Hugh airing downCarl airing down

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.

Unmarked Trail (109) blocked by trees (110) and way out (111)

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 around.  

Hugh turning around

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.

Jim picking rocks out of his tire
Jim stringing cableJim reeling in
Jim picking rocks out of his rear

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.

Carl and Jim crossing

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.

Carl nose-lightCarl testing balance

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:


Last 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.  

Jim descending

Hugh, meanwhile had parked over on the side, with a nice creative flair!

Hugh and his park job

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 way.  

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.

German 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.

Carl climbing out
Hugh crossing
Jim climbing outThe Trail GroupJim and his rockJim climbing out

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 main trail.

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.

Lower end of Old Long Run

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...

German River | Old Long Run


Luigi's for dinner - the kids ate like horses, and we all had a good meal with time to recharge and get ready for the long ride home.  The food was great and the service was pretty good too.  After a quick stop for gas, we hit the road home.

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Last Updated 02/09/2008 09:51:52 AM -0500