Old Long Run, Dry River, Flagpole Knob, Union Springs

Line-up at McDorman's StoreRandom Image from Trip

2/2/02

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Way Points

Prologue

This trip was thrown together in response to several people's wish to go riding.  Jim C. started it up by signing up me and Hector A.  Next, Mike M. weighed in and at about the same time, Roscoe P.  We agreed to meet at the Sheetz in Haymarket, off Route 66.

Muster

I left home at about 6:30am and reached the Sheetz exit just at the appointed hour of 7:30am.  Behind me, Mike M checked in over the CB and we rolled up to Sheetz at the same time.  Jim C. and his neighbor Jim rolled in right behind that, and Hector A. minutes later.  By 7:50am we had all taken on fuel, food and so on, and hit the road, west for Harrisonburg where we would meet Roscoe P.

Line-up at McDorman's Store

We reformed at McDorman's where we took on more supplies and met up with Roscoe.  Jim C. had his son Dylan, Jim had his son, Jim, and Hector had brought a couple friends.  Roscoe and I had our air tanks as co-pilots...  After a couple more famous Ham Sandwiches had found new homes, we hit the road for the first trail entrance.

Trail

Old Long Run

By now this trail has become very familiar for most of us.  For Hector and Roscoe and Jim, it was the first time out.  The rest of us had done this trail at least once.  We stopped at the beginning of the trail to air down and disconnect.  This went pretty smoothly.   Jim C. discovered he was missing a bolt on the bracket of one of his disconnects and saved the important parts that were still there in his pocket.  I guess this means he drove all the way back to Leesburg with no stabilizer connectors.  Mike M. decided not to disconnect.  I aired down to about 25 psi.  I had calculated that this would allow me to air up using my on-board air tank without much help from the compressor.  Some of us lowered our CB antennas and then we were ready to roll.

There was almost no water on the main parts of the trail.  The first obstacle, and optional side hill, gave us a chance to warm up for the day, and to some extent "qualify" us for what lie ahead.  It might be said that if you can navigate the hill both ways, there is nothing on the trail that will be any more difficult - at least nothing mandatory...

Optional HillOptional HillOptional HillOptional Hill

Jim on optional hill
Jim on optional hillJim on optional hillJim on optional hillJim on optional hillJim on optional hill
Roscoe on optional hillRoscoe on optional hillRoscoe on optional hillRoscoe on optional hillRoscoe on optional hillRoscoe on optional hill

Everyone made short work of the hill and we were soon back on our way.  We had some fun at the crossings.   After the first few, we came to a couple sections where the trail blends into the river for a few yards. 

Roscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long Run

There is an easy way and a hard way.  On the first of these spots, I took the easy way while a couple guys behind me took the hard way.

Hector on Old Long RunHector on Old Long RunHector on Old Long RunHector on Old Long Run
Mike on Old Long RunMike on Old Long RunMike on Old Long RunMike on Old Long Run
Jim on Old Long RunJim on Old Long RunJim on Old Long Run
Roscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long Run

At the next spot where this opportunity arose, the same spot where we had eaten lunch a ride or two back, I noticed that it might be possible to climb a particular rock and pass through a mild boulder field.  I had a moments pause, thinking about whether or not my newly-installed rock rails would come into play, but crawled right through it in 1st, 4-LO.  I cautioned that this was "optional", parked, then watched as everyone in the group took the same line up the rock and through the boulders.

Mike gets some air

While this was going on, we did some jockeying to make room for those as they came up the trail past the obstacle.   Mike M. very nicely backed up so that the next few would have room.  In the process his right-rear wheel climbed a rock on the edge of the trail and he "lunched" his bumper end and found himself teeter-tottering on two wheels.  Later, when looking at the pictures he would say "I guess I should have disconnected."  Maybe Mike, but then you might have made it up over that rock you were perched on, and who knows where that would have left you?

Roscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long RunRoscoe on Old Long Run

Roscoe on the other hand, did a beautiful job of parking.  Great Stuff.  Great tire wrinkle.

The rest of the trail was pretty routine.  The river had just a trickle of water in it - just enough to make it pretty, and to make the rocks slippery if you were on foot. 

Mike and JeepMike on Old Long RunMike on Old Long Run
Jim on Old Long Run

But the trail remains very passable to stock vehicles as long as the driver is paying attention.

Gauley Ridge LunchTop of Gauley RidgeTop of Gauley Ridge

We reached the top of Old Long Run, near Gauley Ridge, at lunch time.  Jim C. suggested a small field on top of a hill.  Sure enough, there was a road that went up into the field where we found a bright, sunny clearing that was surprisingly warm after the dark groves we left behind on Old Long Run.  So we all broke out the food and ate.  We talked about vehicle mods, other trips on these trails and stuff like that.  Soon it became time to get going.

Dry River

Jim C. suggested we go to Dry River so his friend Jim could get some mud time.  Since we knew that Second Mountain was closed by the gate down near Route 33 we discussed routes back to pavement.   I would have had us going back down Old Long Run.  Jim C. wisely reminded me of FR 72, and within 20 minutes we were back on pavement down at the base of the mountain.   We trundled along to Dry River and took the high entrance that leads to the portion of the trail shared by the river, the entrance to the reservoir, and the mud.  On the way in we noticed that the gate to the reservoir was closed.

Jim's new dent on Dry RiverJim's new tail gate

We stopped and played in the nearly dried up mud hole.  Everyone that wanted, got a chance to slop around.   Jim missed several "Hey! Hey! HEY!'s" and managed to tweak his tailgate.   Ouch.  Everyone else managed to get in and out of this place without any trouble.

On the way out I noticed a bump stop on the trail and stopped to pick it up.  It seemed unlikely that it had been there long since it wasn't compacted into the dirt.  I walked back down the line and soon found that it belonged to Jim.  Not one but two broken parts on this part of the trip.  Jim gets the Carnage of the Day award.  Near the reservoir we spotted two vehicles coming in and going up to the reservoir.  One was a camo-painted Dodge with a bed cover, and another vehicle behind it.  The gate was now open.  I guess whomever it was, belonged there.  We continued on our way.

Paul on Dry River
Hector on Dry RiverHector on Dry RiverHector on Dry River
Roscoe on Dry River
Jim on Dry River
Jim on Dry River

At the entrance/exit we splashed through the trail, shared by the river.  Everyone got a little of the mud washed off.

Flagpole Knob via Skidmore Dam and Dunkle Hollow

Back out on Route 33 we went further west and ducked in to Skidmore Dam.  We followed the road down to Dunkle Hollow.  There are a number of primitive campsites along the way.  Soon I noticed a site that had a huge pile of rubbish in the fire circle.  It was too big a mess to ignore.  I asked if anyone had plastic bags, Mike M. answered in the affirmative, so we stopped and spent several minutes cleaning up the mess.  I tossed the bag in my Jeep and donated it to the cause at my local transfer station the next day.   It was disappointing to see that the trash consisted of the packaging of all the equipment needed to go camping, all the food that one might bring if you were new to camping, ammo boxes (empty), and several empty propane tanks.  All and all, I would say that it suggested a group that has no idea about camping and certainly no respect for the wilderness.

Near that campsite was a nice little hill that begged climbing.  I eased up to it but realized that one part was nearly vertical and decided that I was not interested in finding out how easy it was to tip over backwards.  So I left it alone and we headed up the trail towards Flagpole.

Along the way we saw another campsite even worse than the first.  It would have taken the rest of the afternoon to clean up.  We left it there, sadly, and continued.  I guess I got a little ahead of the guys in back because at one point Jim C. noted being passed by a Porsche...

This portion of the trail had many little side paths leading off to who knows where.  Most were clearly marked off limits but a few might bear further exploration on another day. 

Flagpole Knob ViewFlagpole KnobFlagpole Knob ViewFlagpole Knob ViewFlagpole Knob

Eventually we reached the top of the trail and turned right for Flagpole Knob.  Once there we dismounted and enjoyed the view.  Not long after we got there, we noticed a column of smoke rising from the valley.  A red TJ drove up and the driver told us that the pavement route down from here had been closed by police because of the fire.

Union Springs via Stone Camp/FR 225

That left us two options to get out.  We could go back the way we had come up, or go down to Union Springs via FR 225.  It was getting late but we decided to go down FR 225 because it is a fairly interesting trail.  We expected to get back to pavement with some daylight left.

So we drove down FR 225.   There were a few spots that required us to pick our line but eventually we reached the bottom of the ridge and wound our way out to where the large hill is located.  Some of us aired up and reconnected.  I found that I was able to just make it around all four tires using the air tank that I had previously filled to 150 p.s.i, without waiting for the compressor.  Just as I finished, the two Jims pulled alongside to get their tires aired up.  This is where I found the limitation of my set-up.  It's only good for one fill-up from the tank.  I didn't have any reserve pressure left for them so they opted to wait until we got to a gas station.  Roscoe got his tires up in pressure enough to drive on pavement.  Hector too would wait until we got to the gas station.

Epilogue

After what seemed like a long ride, we reached the area near Route 81, and stopped at a gas station to get air.   With four people in line, I had enough time to pump my tank back up to pressure and get Hector's tires up to pressure while the other three guys aired up.  We got gas and met at the Golden Corral, a little ways up Route 33.  There we encountered a hoard of people lined up for the "99-cent Steak Deal" that comes with the all-you-can-eat buffet.  We were a little put off by the long lines but we quickly got our meals paid for and got seated.  Even the line for steak went fast enough to make it worth the trouble.  Spread across three adjacent tables, we ate, talked about the day, then broke off and headed home.

I don't think I've ever had this much fun on Old Long Run.  And I don't think I've ever covered this much territory in one day.  By the time I got home, I was burned out, but I had a great time!

Larger Pictures from Mike McCready | More pictures from Roscoe Primrose

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