Saturday morning we met at Sheetz. Most arrived between 8:30 and 9:00 am. Adam had duty the day before and didn’t leave Quantico until 0730, so he arrived late (there is always one). We headed out toward the George Washington National Forest before 10:00 am. Not everyone had CB radios, so we split those that did between the rigs without. Kevin called me on the phone as we drove away from Harrisonburg and told me he forgot to fill up with fuel (there are sometimes two). So we stopped at one of the last two gas stations before the trail. After five minutes of fueling he had only gotten a few gallons from the slow pumps. But that was enough and we pushed on.
After getting onto Union Springs Trail and traveling on the gravel road we stared to pass several hunters’ vehicles parked and or driving the opposite way on the trail. Stopping at a wide switch back in the trail several rigs aired their tires down and pictures were taken. A couple Toyotas passed us by. After a bit of chatter we moved on. When we got to the water crossing we passed the Toyotas. The trail got steeper and many people put their rigs into four wheel drive low range. At the top of that steep part just after a switchback we stopped for a quick potty break and those Toyotas caught back up to us. We finally got to the mud flats! Everyone splashed and played a bit. We chatted a while and I let everyone know about the next obstacle: the stair steps. A couple rigs bypassed this rocky section and everyone else to different lines depending on the challenge they wanted. The rocks have become rougher there every year. The next obstacle was the rocks at the top of a short climb. As the prior section this also has become rougher to get over. I has to spot and guide Abram in his low to the ground Blazer. Tom’s LR3 and all the computer controlled terrain choices hampered his getting over the rocks. I think he finally set it in “Mud” mode with the traction control off before he got passed. Joaquin had his anti-sway bar still connected and had not aired down. This cause his leaf sprung rig to lift tires off the ground and spin helplessly. Abram pulled Joaquin's link pins while I aired his tires down. With a little more effort Joaquin had passed the obstacle. Kevin’s rig was sputtering badly from the mud flats and too much splashing, but after a few tries he conquered the rocks. All the others behind all cleared with little problem. A guy with a Toyota had come across us blocking the path as we worked on this obstacle. He had never seen a VehiCROSS before, and was surprised how easily Melissa got over the rocks. Matthew gave it “the more throttle the better” over the rocks and knocked a couple inches off the top of one rock. (great video!) It was fairly uneventful from there to Meadow Knob other than the firewood neatly piled and a note hung within the old rock house on the side of the trail. The two Toyota’s had a fire going on the little plateau adjacent to Meadow Knob. We lined up for the obligatory poser line-up shot, and all got out to eat and chat. After a while we headed on down Flag Pole Trail. This trail has several rocky climbs, but with the experience of the last big obstacle everyone got past them all. We stopped at Flag Pole Knob for some scenic photo shots. Matthew, Adam, and Abram chased each other around and wrestled. That’s what young Marines do! Melissa and Rachel wanted to go antiquing instead of hitting Reddish Knob, so I suggested she use access the mapping application on her phone while we had coverage atop Flag Pole Knob. The trip from there to the paved road has a few splashing puddles but was otherwise just a smooth run. We got to the road and Joaquin could not get his rig out of four wheel drive due to the shifter handle coming loose from the shifter under the body. He and I worked together and got it back on and into two wheel drive. Melissa and Rachel headed down the paved road toward Virginia and the antiques while the rest of us headed up a different paved road to Reddish Knob. It was a beautiful view up there despite the clouds coming in. A few rigs got their tires aired up, we all chatted some more, and pictures were taken. The road drive back to Sheetz was uneventful. Everyone aired up, got fuel, and or food. We all said our good byes and headed off towards our homes. It was a beautiful day full of fun and great people! No one got stuck or broke down (that couldn’t be fixed) and I think everyone had a good day.
Bryan Folts, member, 04 Wrangler (Trail Leader)
Stephen Gibbs, member, 03 Rubicon (walked through every obstacle)
Melissa Burn, member, 00 VehiCROSS (walked through every obstacle)
Tom Walsh, member, Land Rover LR3
Adam Folts, family member, 94 Cherokee (walked through every obstacle)
Matthew Folts, family member, 91 Cherokee (Tail Gunner)
Joaquin R, prospective member, 94 Wrangler
Michael H, prospective member, 10 Tacoma (walked through every obstacle)
Kevin M, guest, 94 Wrangler
Abram B, guest, S10 Blazer
Off-Camber Crawlers Member