Potts Jeep Road

Dropping into Bypass - Click for Movie

 8/23/03

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!

Way Points

 

Prologue

I started looking at Potts Jeep Road practically as soon as I got my TJ. Let's face it, if you do a search on "Jeep Road", it's gonna come up, and when you're looking for trails, that's a search that comes to mind.

Asking around, I got mixed responses, and no clear indication of what was there. So I forgot about it. Then I thought about it again when I saw that CORE had gone out there a couple times. The pictures of one section looked intriguing and I was once again checking into the trail.

I was able to find more information about the trail and after some pretty hard work was able to locate it on a map, based on information from several sources. In April of 2002 I made several notes, including the fact that it was at least four hours away...

Knowing that it would require an overnight stay if I was to take my kids and not completely abuse myself, I set a reminder on my computer. And then for a year and a half I clicked that reminder to go back to sleep for another week. 78 clicks later it finally happened - a weekend where I could dedicate an overnight stay, and what looked like good weather for camping! I posted plans for the trip on the club board, got no interest, a couple comments from someone who said they planned to be there with another group, and that was it.

Muster

And so it was that my kids and I embarked on Friday evening, headed for "The Pines" campground near the trail. My hard work last year with regard to directions to the area, GPS coordinates, and so on paid huge benefits as I only had to load the GPS and print out my notes. I was unable to get any really useful information about the campground so set my expectations very low - if there was a cleared out spot that allowed for setting up a tent, I would be happy. In hindsight, it is just as well that I didn't expect very much.

The weather had been hot all day but it was cooling off in the afternoon and it looked pretty nice out. We finally got on the road around 5:00pm. We drove out to White's Ferry and encountered a line that was three ferry loads long. We were at the head of load three. While we waited, I noticed the guy in front of me get out and remove some items from the bed of his pick-up truck and place them in the cab. So I turned on the weather radio and soon learned that the area was listed on a severe storm warning that was imminent.

So I removed my soft-sided duffle bag and sleeping bag from the roof rack and put them in the front seat. The guy behind me pointed out that my right rear tire was low. I reached for my air gauge to check it and found that it had gone missing. I made mental note to get another at my next stop. I got back in the Jeep just in time to take refuge from a driving rain and heavy thunder storm. The temperature dropped a good 20 degrees in less than 5 minutes!

When the ferry returned from the other side of the river and unloaded, a pick-up truck remained aboard. It was clear from the dimming lights and lack of movement that it was not starting and there might be an electrical problem. I walked down and offered to help. The ferry operator retrieved one of those power packs that you can carry, and jump-started the truck. Once that was cleared up we boarded and rode across the river. We stopped at the Sheetz in Leesburg to get gas and a air gauge. The tire checked fine. I guess the guy didn't know what my tires look like normally and thought they were low.  But I was happy to have been made aware that my air gauge was missing.

By that time the weather had passed over and the road south and west was dry. The traffic thinned as we drove west. We watched a pretty sunset and soon reached Route 81.

Route 7 outside Winchester

That's when the distance of the trip really hit me. It was going to be about 150 miles before I reached the exit for the general area where the trail and campground are. Travelling at a civilized pace would take about three hours. We'd already been on the road almost 2 hours already. And once we got off the highway, we had a windy country road to travel for probably another 45 minutes!

Thankfully, the drive down Route 81 went smoothly. We drove at a little more than a civilized speed and it still took us a good three hours to get to our exit. By then, I really needed gas so I poked around a little bit near the highway and discovered that the gas stations were all closed. It wasn't late by metropolitan standards, but we were in little small country towns where people like to go home from work in the evening. So with a few gallons left, I headed up the country road for the campground.

Camp

By the time we reached the campground, it was nearly 11:00pm. Naturally it was dark. The site that I chose was littered with large quantities of broken glass. If I had checked the site before taking down all the camping stuff, I would have sought another site. But since it was late and we had already unloaded, we just cleaned up the glass around the planned tent area and then got to work.   My kids were real troopers. They had napped for a couple hours on the way down and pitched in to help get the tent set up and the bed laid out. They contributed meaningful assistance and soon had a tent erected.  But set-up was complicated by the fact that the campground is very primitive, with nothing but picnic tables, fire rings, and a concrete outhouse.

Soon the tent was up and I had a fire going. But not before we had managed to fumble the camp lantern, breaking the glass globe and disintegrating the boot that traps the gas. I carry extra boots so that was not a major problem but the broken globe was troubling - insects fly into the lamp and incinerate, causing problems with the flame and damaging the boot. But it was all we had so I lit it and made mental note to get a new globe as soon as possible.

I made a bed for the kids, inflated the air mattress for myself, and we went to bed. It had been a long day and it felt good to be "home" knowing that in the morning, we could take our time, have breakfast, get organized, and drive a couple miles to the trail.

Summer Chill

I woke early in the morning to visit a tree.  When I came back in I decided to check the kids to see how they were doing.  The site was not completely level and they had slid to one corner of the tent during the night.  Tomi had shed the sleeping bag, cover blanket and migrated off the ground mat.  He was asleep on the floor of the tent in a T-shirt and shorts.  It was somewhere around 40- or 50 degrees.  Great...  Can you say hypothermia?  I Picked him up and took him into my sleeping bag, with his bag stuffed in the bottom of mine to warm it up.  I warmed him up for at least 30 minutes.  His color was OK from the beginning but I had no idea how long he had been out of his sleeping bag so I wanted to make sure he wasn't in bad shape.  When he was warm again, I put his bed back together and set him up so he wouldn't get out again.  We slept about another hour and half.  He was fine but it really got my attention.  Even in the summer time it can be tricky to go camping with kids!

The PinesThe Pines with the kidsThe Pines with the kids

When day broke, I was stunned to see what the campsite looked like. It appears that there was a pretty serious ground fire at some point. The base of the trees were blackened, and several trees were cut down. The floor of the forest was strangely littered with dead leaves, and lots of rotten tree branches. There were stumps everywhere. It was not pretty. It was stark.  Now the prospect of no shower for three days loomed large.

There were a few campers, and there again it was different from anything I have ever seen. People were barely equipped in some cases, and in other cases actually sleeping in the back of their cars. I began to have my doubts about leaving my stuff here during the day but decided I needed to contain my concerns and get on with the day.

Paul and TedPaul and TedPaul and Tomi

I got some coffee going and fed the kids the first of a long series of meals that were sub-optimal from a grown-up point of view, and pure heaven from a kid point of view. The Pop Tart feast was soon over and we moved into the "Not From Concentrate" orange juice chasers.

The weather was looking quite nice but I decided that it would probably be hot and humid again so left the doors, windows and top in place. That also eased my concern about leaving stuff behind during the day. I loaded the essentials in the Jeep, transferred my GPS Route from my computer, checked my e-mail, and headed out.

Side Trip

I recalled that on the trip in we had run close to empty on the gas tank. So I had asked the people camping next to us where the nearest gas station was located. The response was "left, right, right, at the Pines Restaurant". I looked that up on the map and it looked feasible so we headed for gas. The people who had give us directions left just ahead of us and seemed to be going the same way.

I was closer to empty than I knew. The engine sputtered in way that I have experienced in the past - the way it does when there is about 1/2 mile's worth of gas left in the tank and you go around a corner or up a hill. Crap! We still had 3-4 miles to go before we reached the gas station... And then it happened again like once before when my oldest son had made a suggestion that proved hugely beneficial: He said "Papi, why don't you coast down the hill and save gas?". So that's what we did. We coasted most of the way to the station, with only a couple of brief gentle spurts to blip us over a rise here and there. We literally sputtered to a stop, out of gas, next to the pumps!

And for a moment, I still did not feel relieved. The pumps looked like they came right out of the 60's, complete with the mechanical digits and old way of turning on and off. Naturally, with this equipment there was no credit card slot. I began to fear that these pumps were just left behind from another time when they sold gas.

I checked inside and much to my relief, they not only sold gas, but took my flavor of credit card. I can't remember a time when I was happier to be filling my tank. And filling is a good way to put it because it took the limit - 19.1 gallons went into my 19 gallon tank. Yes, folks, Mr. Prepared isn't always as prepared as he should be...

Then we got some stuff for lunch and dinner. Filled up the cooler and thanked the people at the store. As I backtracked to the trail I thought about how much different our evening would have been if I had run out of gas the night before, on the way to the camp. Basically, we would have been screwed. Nothing was open, there was no cell phone coverage (AAA) and I didn't even have a gas can. I imagine we would have slept the night in the Jeep or maybe set up the tent on the side of the road, then gone off for gas in the morning. I'm glad it didn't come out that way.

Potts Jeep Road

Up the road and soon we were in the vicinity of the trail. I had marked two or three likely trail entrances on the GPS and found two of the three were not visible from pavement. The third was a direct hit and we were soon headed up a rocky little road known as Potts Jeep.

What's this?The kids at the beginning of Potts Jeep Trail

It reminded me a little bit of the way Peters Mill used to be before they ran a bulldozer through it. Steep, winding, and rocky. It was not hard to negotiate the trail, but it was fun to enjoy the feeling of being able to get over the rocks and roots and other impediments along the way. The kids seemed to be enjoying the new trail, and I was just taking my sweet time.

Soon we came to a section were there were some muddy ruts, and easy bypasses. I opted to avoid the mud since I really don't like what it does to Jeeps, and besides that, did not feel like winching out of a hole that smelled like cow manure. When we came to a fork in the road at one such mud hole, I took the route the bypassed the mud and proceeded left.

I began to doubt my choice when the trail seemed to get easier and even a little less steep for a time. I wondered if perhaps the other fork lead to the "hard stuff". But I recalled tales of a steep hill climb that was on a spur. So I figured I was either on that spur or the main trail to the rocks. Either way, it was going to be interesting so I just kept going.

Then we reached a rougher section which I found challenging but did not have any trouble getting over. I don't know if it was the place called "The Dip" or not, but we got through and continued up the hill.

Looking up the Bypass

The BypassThe BypassLooking up the BypassThe lower part of the BypassMore BypassMore BypassThe exit from the Bypass

Then we came to the main attraction. To the right lay a downhill section, over some rocks, then a rocky stretch that cuts back up the hill a few dozen yards ahead. There were rocks stacked against the ledge, and black tire marks on the more permanent rocks. This was looking pretty good. I took a walk and soon found the rock that everyone comes here to see and some, to climb. We had arrived.

Kids on the Obstacle

This seemed like a good time to stop and feed ourselves. We pulled down the chairs from the roof rack and had our lunch. I think we ate as much food as we applied bug spray. There were some serious insect attacks that were hard to fight off, but DEET has the almighty power...

Kids on the Bypass

The Bypass descentRock stacking on the Bypass

After lunch, the kids and I took a walk down the side trail and around to the main obstacle (a sheer rock-face accessible to the left of the exit from the dip). Both sections (the dip and the obstacle) look quite different in the photos I have seen. I should qualify that by saying that they are instantly recognizable for their shape and context. But you cannot get a feel for the lay of the land from the pictures. In both cases, the steepness of the terrain, and the height of the rocks is somehow diminished in the photographs. This may sound like four-wheeler bravado, a way to make the trip seem somehow more bold than it actually was. But in truth, the pictures do not do these places justice. I could see that I would not be attempting to climb the rocks that were here. It was too extreme for me to attempt on any number of levels:

  • I was alone with my kids - bad enough just by itself, never mind halfway up a rock ledge
  • I do not have large tires (well not large enough for this...)
  • I do not have unlimited courage (this rock had serious "roll" potential.)

So I easily decided that I would not be attempting this rock today or any other time with the current passengers and vehicle. I was very content to drive the "bypass" and continue down the trail. That alone would be challenging enough.

357 Magnum

Teddy eagerly took the camera from me with plans to make a video of my descent down the bypass and back up the other side. He took very good direction and made a movie of various stages of this activity.

Video Captures showing trip through the dip

I found that it was very easy to drive this section, with only the steepness of the initial descent being the issue to be dealt with.  I drove down the hill with some serious tire flatness against the left rock face.  It gripped the side of the rock very well and became nearly flat from the weight of the vehicle pressing downhill.  I eased down extremely slowly, as can be seen in the video.

Dropping into Bypass - Click for Movie

Movie - Dropping down into Bypass 5630KB

Then I ambled along the more or less flat section at the bottom.  When I walked it off to see what I was up against, the only thing that was even mildly problematic at the bottom of the dip was the slight off-camber nature of it.  But having begun to develop a tolerance to being off-camber, it was far less an issue that many other situations I have encountered.  Driving it confirmed my impressions, it was no problem.

At the other end of the dip, the trail turns left and begins a rocky climb.  Here, the main issue is choosing a line that places the tires in such a way that you do not get hung up and continue to move along without stopping, and get into position for the exit at the top where the trail turns right (or left if you plan to attempt the obstacle).  Teddy made two short clips of video that show me passing him at the bottom and then finishing my climb and turn right at the top.

Bottom of the bypass - Click for Movie

Movie - Bottom of Bypass 475KB

It's hard to see in the video below but there are some very large rocks right where the trail breaks over and turns right.  You have to climb the rocks, clear the break-over, and turn right all at once.  The video shows me making it look easy.   When I came back later to wait for the people we ran into on the trail, I turned around there and was a little less graceful...

Going up out of bypass - Click for Movie

Movie - Going up Out of Bypass 1081KB

I crawled easily up the other side, over some pretty good sized boulders, flexing like a mad dog. It was loads of fun to use the Jeep to its full potential in a low risk situation. The worst that could have happened was to pop a bead or maybe get a little hung up on one of the rocks. Luck was with me and I got back up to the trail without any hesitation.  I would watch some other folks run this section later and see lots of wheel spin and some hanging up.  It really made me feel like putting the lift, tires, gears and lockers was worth the trouble.

End of Bypass - Click for Movie

Movie - End of Bypass 2486KB

 

After the bypass

Teddy and Tomi came running up behind me filming and all excited to be making movies, and breathing hard from climbing the hill.

I loaded them up and we continued up the trail. Soon we came to the top of the ridge and noticed some outlooks on either side of the trail. I stopped and we took a little hike to the edge where we could see far and wide. The day had turned out to be splendid so we took some time to just enjoy the beauty that surrounded us. The kids took turns making pictures.

Scrub in the Barbour Wilderness on Potts Moutain

Scrub in the Barbour Wilderness on Potts MoutainScrub in the Barbour Wilderness on Potts Moutain

Ted and PaulTom and Paul

Ted and TomTed and TomTed and Tom

Jeep on Potts Jeep TrailTom and Ted

Then we walked back to the Jeep and continued to a meadow that had recently been mowed.

Jeep in the meadow on Potts Jeep Trail

Through there and back into the woods, we found the going a little bit rougher. We climbed some more and found some huge boulders that captured our interest. We also saw some butterflies. We stopped to watch them and make some photographs.

Butterfly and Thistle

Butterfly and ThistleButterfly and ThistleButterfly and Thistle

Tom, Ted and RockJeep between the rocks

Back home in Massachusetts, we have lots of milkweed but I have not seen it down south. But here there was a field full of it. Some had the seed pods, nice and green, not yet dried out. I showed the kids how to remove the seeds from the pods to eat the septum that separates the two halves of the seed pod. This is the only edible part of the milk weed (the rest is moderately toxic), but it is tasty. The kids surprised me by liking it and asking for more.

I was resolved that we would continue out and then make a trip to Wal*Mart to get a new globe for the camp lantern. But I figured it would be fun to put the CB on channel 4 and say something dumb like "Does anybody have 4-LO". To my surprise, I got a crystal-clear reply from "Bogie" saying that he was out there waiting for his group. It was the folks that were planning to be there that I had heard from on the message board. I decided it would be fun to watch them play on the rock so we drove back to the obstacle. When I got there, I turned around on the trail by driving back down into the bypass. It was pretty gnarly getting back out but it was fun. We hung around for about 45 minutes or so until they arrived.  During that time the kids got involved in a belching contest.

Belchertown - Click for movie

Movie - Who can burp the loudest (lame) 3548KB

After that cinematic brilliance, we spent some time climbing the obstacle on foot.

Ted and Tom on the ObstacleTed and Tom on the ObstacleTom climbing down the obstacleTed and Tom on the Obstacle

When I started to get tired of waiting, I walked back to the Jeep to call one more time to see if I could get a progress report. Once again I was surprised by a crystal clear response. In the time it took to walk to my Jeep, the group had arrived. I looked across the trail and over the obstacle and there they were.  Soon five vehicles and an assortment of men, women and children had arrived and disembarked. We said our hello's all around and they got ready to attempt the obstacle.

The SWVA4W GangMore of the SWVA4W GangThe SWVA4W Gang

The leader of the group was driving a Grand with the driver's side door removed. I found this interesting and figured it was just his way of getting some fresh air like Wrangler and CJ drivers like to do. The hinge unbolts and the power connection unplugs so it looked like it had been easy to do, although he did comment that the door was heavy. I soon learned the real reason he removed the door - to prevent carnage during his attempt on the obstacle...

The BypassThe Bypass with GrandThe Bypass with GrandThe Bypass with GrandThe Bypass with Grand

SWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4W

He drove down the bypass and came up to the obstacle.

Coming Down - Click for Movie

Movie - Coming Down 605KB

Bottom of the bypass - Click for Movie

Movie - Bottom of the Bypass 285KB

On the Obstacle - Click for Movie

Movie - On the Obstacle 7870KB

On the Obstacle - Click for Movie

Movie - On the Obstacle 927KB

On the Obstacle - Click for Movie

Movie - On the Obstacle 319KB

He put his front wheels up on it and then made his bid. A low spot on the uphill side prevented him from getting the traction he needed and he gave up trying after a couple attempts and pulled some cable.

Winched Up - Click for Movie

Movie - Winched Up 1566KB

The next guy in line pulled through the bypass and parked behind me.

The BypassThe ObstacleOn the BypassParked past the bypass

Then a white Cherokee came up and made a swipe at it.

On the BypassApproaching the Obstacle from the BypassApproaching the Obstacle from the BypassApproaching the Obstacle from the Bypass

SWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4W

He managed to get positioned but got some serious air with his passenger side rear wheel and he decided that it might not be his day to climb the obstacle.

Tippy - Click for Movie

Movie - "Don't Do it, Dude!" 3708KB

Got Air?  - Click for Movie

Movie - Got Air? 603KB

Lining Up - Click for Movie

Movie - Lining Up 4797KB

Somewhere along the way, another pair of vehicles came down the trail from the other direction and the occupants joined the gallery for the show.  Meanwhile the kids occupied themselves with a centipede.

Kids and centipedeKids and Centipede

A nice CJ took the bypass and skipped the obstacle.

Climbing out of the bypassClimbing out of the bypassClimbing out of the bypassClimbing out of the bypass

Next came a CJ8. Very nicely prepared and built for trail work. He drove right up to the obstacle, got positioned and then hit it.

Up the bypass - Click for Movie

Approaching the ObstacleApproaching the Obstacle

He made a couple adjustments before the main assault but then just made one aggressive run at the face of the rock.

Whump! Click for Movie

Movie - Whump! 3516KB

His front wheels went up and when he started to get some traction in the rear, the weight came off his front and the whole vehicle drifted to the left and his nose started to slide to the left off the face of the rock. His front wheels caught in a deep crack just before he would have slid right off the side of the whole hill. That would have been a disaster.

Bogie On the ObstacleBogie On the Obstacle

The video shows his attempt and abrupt end. It really was like that - he hit and stopped dead. I was so stunned when I made the video that I accidentally stopped shooting - but it would have been more frames of his Jeep stuck in the crack. The pictures fill in the rest.

Recovery - Click for Movie

Movie - Recovery 732KB

Bogie On the ObstacleBogie On the ObstacleBogie On the ObstacleRecovery WorkRecovery WorkRecovery WorkRecovery WorkRecovery WorkRecovery WorkRecovery WorkRecovery Work

SWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4WSWVA4W

Idle Chat - Click for Movie

Movie - Idle Chat - 1501KB

"Back Up" - Click for Movie

Movie - "Back Up" 1628KB

Using some angled pulls, straps for security, and backing him up, the group were able to get the CJ8 and its pilot 'Bogie' up over the rock. In the process, the roller fairlead on the Grand got broken.

We watched a few more people negotiate the bypass and ran out of battery power on the camera. I reached for the second battery only to find it too was spent. I guess it never got charged up after the last trip. First we lose the air gauge, run out of gas and now this...

It was at about here that I decided that it was getting late enough that the kids and I should be moving on. So I said some good-byes and loaded up the kids. We drove south along the rest of the trail out to FR 176. When I got there, I followed it out to Rt 18, then struck out to the North headed for Covington and the nearest Wal*Mart.

Wal*Mart

Along the way we stopped to air up and reconnect. I got directions to Wal*Mart, the next exit down on Route 64, and we went. At Wal*Mart I got my lantern glass, some more bug spray (did I mention that the bugs were lapping it off of us all day and we used nearly half a can?), a few Hot Wheels cars for my column, and a couple bags of ice and a $1.37 styrofoam cooler to hold the food and ice we bought. I pondered the purchase of another spare camera battery but was stopped dead by the price. I figured I could live without pictures for the rest of the trip... By the time we were done it was past sundown.

Camp

We drove back to the campsite using Route 18, Route 615 and Route 617. We arrived at the Pines and found it dark like we had the first night we stayed. Just like home... I got a fire going, lit the lantern with the benefit of the new glass, and then cooked some Hot Dogs and corn on the cob for supper. The kids pounded it down and drank lots of fluids. We sat by the fire for a couple minutes and then Ted and Tom voluntarily went to bed. It had been a very long and full day and they were tired. I stayed up for a while just sitting in the dark next to the fire thinking about the meaning of life...

When the fire was nothing but coals, I turned in but not before I decided to top off my air mattress. It wasn't leaking but it was not as hard as I like. The air pump that I got from Wal*Mart must have ingested a bug or something because it gave out a horrible death cry and died, leaving me with my mattress even worse than when I started. So I resorted to blowing it up the old fashioned way, with good results. Soon I too was bagging Z's.

In the morning the kids slept a little late and I was able to get some extra sleep. It was beautiful out and we took our time getting breakfast (egg sandwiches on Hot Dog rolls, Pop-Tarts, coffee and orange juice), and eating around the revived fire. One good thing about primitive campgrounds like this - there is plenty of dead wood lying around for scavengers like me to make fires with.

After breakfast was done, I started the tedious job of dismantling the camp site. I took my time, slowly organizing everything into respective containers or groupings of like-stuff. I washed all the dishes and packed the utensils, stove and lantern. Next I consolidated the contents of the tent, organized the coolers so we had dry stuff that didn't require refrigeration in the cheapo styrofoam cooler, lunch stuff in the little coolers that fit in the foot-wells in back, and the other stuff for late snacks, emergencies or for when we get home, in the big cooler that goes on the roof rack.

With everything more or less tied up, I swept out the tent, took it down and folded up the ground cloths and air mattress. I manage to get all the tent stuff into my other trunk and then everything possible goes on the roof rack. Finally, I had everything put away and only the bikes remained. I can't say how great it is to bring the bikes along. It gives the kids something to do in camp when I'm busy, and I think it gives them a feeling of freedom and self-determination that makes these trips just a little bit better for them. I used to see people all loaded down with camping stuff and bikes hanging off the back and wonder what the...? Now I know why.

The Road Home

I looked at the map and found that we could drive one of the forest roads (FR 180) and cut across the ridge, catch some nice views, maybe find some rough road, and get over to Route 64 or 81 without going too far out of the way. So we set out and enjoyed this road less traveled.

Coming around a bend, we saw a group of riders on horseback. I could see that the animals were a little bit skittish so I shut down and let them get themselves settled and safely past us. One horse walked by nervously with wide eyes and flaring nostrils. I guess he might have felt a little better if we had been driving a Bronco...

After they were all gone by, we continued along. I stopped on a side trail to see if it was blocked or posted (it was not) and found only a nice campsite. I should say that all through the trail and in the surrounding area are some beautiful primitive campsites that were much nicer than where we stayed. I believe that next time we come here we will seek out something along those lines.

Eventually we reached the top of the ridge and after a brief run along the top, began our switchback descent. At one of the intersections we met up with a Montero full of people who were clearly out for some wheeling. So we stopped and talked about trails, Montero aftermarket parts, and that sort of thing. Then we continued on and soon reached pavement.

Eventually, we got to Route 220.  I stopped at a little variety store, the kind still very common in southern Virginia and West Virginia, and all but gone in Northern Virginia and Metro DC. We bought Grilled Cheese for the boys and a fish dinner for me. We scuffled briefly over Teddy's choice of drink (he wanted the $3 Sponge Bob Squarepants, 6 oz Fruit Punch - I wanted him to have something with more drink and less container for 1/3 the price...) and then paid for our meals and sat on the bench outside the front door and ate. What meal wouldn't be complete without Tomi spilling something all over himself or someone else?

Once we got done eating, I made tracks east for Route 64. When we got there, I headed for Route 81, planning to turn north and head for home. Even the best laid plans... I got word on CB CH19 that Route 81 North was a parking lot for miles. So I took Route 81 South and got off the next exit for Route 60 East. Just after crossing under the Blue Ridge Parkway, I stopped for a map check and helped some college kids get themselves on the road for some falls. I checked my map and got myself on the road for Shoe Creek!

Shoe Creek

I figured I could either sit on Route 81 for two hours and go nowhere, or cut across country for 20 miles using Forest Roads and connect with the southern end of Shoe Creek and go wheeling past the traffic jam, and rejoin Route 81 via Route 56. And that's exactly what we did.

Along the way I got stuck behind a Sunday driver with a carload of nice older folks. But the quality of the road did not merit the 5 mph pace that they seemed to deem appropriate so I took an opportunity to pass them via the off-camber shoulder to their left. I don't think it was very sociable, but I found it hard to understand why they felt it necessary to hog the whole road without cease. Anyway, there were no one-finger salutes, no yelling out of windows, and no aggressive behavior. I simply went around them going about 10 mph. So much for the fact that there happened not to be much of anything resembling a road where I drove... I hope I didn't scare them when we drove past looking down from fairly high above into their windows while leaning over them...

Soon we connected to Allahambra Road and eventually to the southern end of the Shoe Creek Trail. I aired down (a little less than usual owing to the load I had strapped on) and disconnected. As I was doing so, two stockers drove out of the trail and waved as they passed. We must have been a sight, all loaded down with trunks and coolers and high-clearange bike racks. Now call me crazy - it was already 5:30pm - but this trail is well worth the trip. I could not resist being within a couple miles and not running it. By myself, with no side obstacles, and no stops for chatting, it only took us an hour and a half.

The trail seemed to be about the same as usual though clearly some of the "side trails" were very rough looking. The crazy hill climb looks as bad as usual. The ruins has collapsed. All in all we had a nice trouble-free trip through. I was please with the way the Jeep handled, fully loaded. This was a good shake down for the wheeling I plan to do next month when I travel to Maine for some deep woods camping and possibly some light wheeling. I think the Jeep is ready (air compressor notwithstanding).

It was still daylight when we came out at the parking area for Crabtree Falls. We drove out to pavement.  I noticed that the sign recommending 4WD vehicles was gone and had been replaced with one admonishing people about forest fires or litter or some such thing.  I stopped to air up and reconnect. And that was when I got hit with another equipment failure - the air compressor had died for the air mattress and now the one I use to air up had also decided it was time to retire. The motor ran but no compressed air came out. I think I got pretty good service out of it considering how hard it has worked, but the timing was lousy since I had quite a good drive down Route 56 to reach a gas station. I reconnected the sway bar and we hit the road.

Epilogue

We stopped up the road a mile or two to see if the camp store/ gas station had air (they didn't) and continued on, past the Parkway, and out to Route 81 and a pair of truck stops.  I got gas and air, then we jumped onto Route 81 headed north. The traffic was heavy with trailer trucks and cars, but was moving briskly. So aside from having to be really alert, the drive went smoothly and soon we reached the Route 7 Exit a few miles north of the Route 66 interchange.

I have stopped going home via Route 66. I found that on Sunday nights it is gets more and more busy as you get closer to the beltway. By the time you go past the Vienna Metro station, it's pretty much a parking lot on many occasions. I prefer the relative solitude of Route 7 and the twilight passage over the Potomac aboard the Jubal Early at White's Ferry. The kids are asleep and it is a good time to take it easy after a long weekend.

I called Maria to see how her trip was going and learned that she too was getting close to home. I got there first, by just a few minutes. One by one I carried the boys in and put them to bed. I left the Jeep to unpack in the morning. Maria came in just as I hit the shower.

This trip was one of the best yet. Even though the drive was very long, and the camping was quite primitive, the trail was outstanding and the area was very picturesque. I was lucky many times during the course of the weekend, and we made it home without major problems. I guess you could say it was all good!

 

Roadless /Wilderness Draft Report (cached copy of report here)

Back to Off Road Index

Shop for Jeep Toys and Books | See the Toy Jeeps

 


Potts Jeep Road Waypoint Data

Update 1/5/2008:  GPS Data now provided in GPX format for easy transfer to your GPS!

Purchase GPS Waypoint data and access to topographic maps of this trail using Pay Pal!

Pay me securely with any major credit card through PayPal!

GPS Waypoint data is now available for a moderate fee ($10.00 U.S.).

This contribution allows us to maintain this web site, collect and maintain GPS waypoint data, and periodically verify its accuracy.  All GPS Waypoints have been verified in the field.

If you would like to purchase the coordinates for this trail, simply complete the two questions below and click "Buy Now" to pay for your purchase using Pay Pal.

For a free sample of how our GPS data is presented to our customers, click here.

How did you hear about us?
Are you planning a trip on this trail

(Potts Jeep Road)

How did you hear about us?
Are you planning a trip on this trail

(Shoe Creek)

IMPORTANT - After you pay with PayPal be sure to click the orange button shown circled below from the PayPal Payment confirmation Screen to go to the GPS Data you purchased!

 

 


Click or the [ BACK ] button on your browser to return to the previous page.

Home

Photos, Layout and Design 2003-2008 Paul M. Provencher All Rights Reserved.
Contents of this Web Site may not be used without written permission.

Hit Counter Since 8/25/2003

Last Updated 02/09/2008 02:10:30 AM -0500