My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

My Girl: Gettin' After It!!
My truck on her maiden voyage in Moab 2012

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Dictum Ridge (Solo night ride), Flag Pole, and FR 85 @ WV Border

I was back and forth about whether or not I would do this ride, do the VASA bike ride, or drive to Florida for Redneck Yacht club. Well, I waited too late to register for the VASA; and I didn't have the cash for gas to drive that far. So I decided to wheel locally and tag along on another group's outing. I decided the morning of to actually bring Maddy to work and head down to wheel that night as the group was not planning on running Dictum Ridge. I was not willing to make a third trip to the area and still forego the trail, even if it wasn't going to be particularly technical. It turned out to be a fun ride at night. I also got introduced to two additional trails which offered plenty in the way of mud and also a few rocky sections which posed a bit more of a challenge than what I've been encountering lately. So here goes the update:

 So I had some issues leading up to this trip. For one, it appears that my truck has pink eye. One of the filaments in the fog light broke off inside the bulb; so, only the bezel was illuminating.
 I also had an unfortunate close encounter with another vehicle which resulted in my two offroad lights being sent to aftermarket heaven and sustained damage to the winch fairlead.
 This was all happening Friday night. The difference is that I had planned to be at home doing these things and then leaving early Saturday morning. However, my jobsite is about 1/3 of the way down to GWNF basically. I decided to load up the parts, some tools, and the dog and head to work. Well, GW was playing in the first round of the NCAA. And I had to be a good alumnus and watch the game somewhere. I drove down, went to Capital Ale House (sensing a pattern?), watched the game, and then drove to Sheetz to load up on food for the trail, get gas, and do my parking lot mods before my solo night ride.
 Having shifted the new LED bar to the hood, I needed somewhere new to mount the Hi-Lift. I thought the toolbox mount would be good. No. It rattles the heck out of the lid on the trail. Basically I am no longer allowed to think because I consistently generate poor ideas. From here on out, I need to find someone I trust to simply tell me what to do.
 No one wanted to ride at night, or do this trail. And I'm stubborn. I'm also leery of being alone in the dark. Everything turned out fine. I did learn that I can have all of my auxiliary lights on plus the radios and not have any power supply issues. I also learned I have some power connection issues though. The pre-wired connectors for the bed-mounted lights have some play. The whole ride, the lights were alternating which side would stay illuminated depending on the severity of the bumps the truck encountered. I also need to check the tap where my HAM radio is fed from. It periodically would re-start itself after a hard jolt. These are good things to uncover in a non-emergency scenario in order to improve.

I paused here at Long Run Rd and aired down here where I had the last county-supplied illumination. I also decided to turn on my rear camp lights and leave them illuminated. That really helped when I took a wrong turn leaving the trail and had a bit more illumination than what is provided by the reverse lights. I will probably also re-use the extra power feed in the bed to mount some additional lights rear facing on the rear bumper for that purpose.

 I almost deleted this one because it didn't come out clearly, but it was kind of eery in the woods at night with the strange blue glow the LED bar puts off. I had just crossed some water and the vapor was rising up from the engine bay.

 Although the thermometer was reading close to 70 deg F as I started the trail, as I ascended further in elevation and the switchbacks put me on the cold side of the mountain, there was still a good bit of snow up there even though we were still in the high 50s to low 60s here.
 All of the gates were open. There would be NO PHOTOS TAKEN OUTSIDE OF THE TRUCK.

 Tried to get the Harrisonburg skyline in the shot, but you also got more of my cluster gage in the reflection.
 I've run 2nd Mountain twice; it was now time to start out on Dictum Ridge

 There are a couple places where you can divert into another direction. In the dark, it was not easily discernible where or if these divergences would reconnect. I'd be interested in going back at some point during the day to trace some of them out.
 Normally I like water. In the daytime, if i was unsure of the depth, I might break out the waders, which I did bring. But, I was not leaving the truck for anything. So I hit them and hoped for the best.

Doin' it on the rocks; doin' it in the dark.

 This is at the bottom of Dictum Ridge. Dictum and 2nd Mountain are connected by the ATV trail referenced by the signs, but there is no way permitted to run the entire loop. For this reason, it seems a lot of people forego running Dictum. The last 1/4 mile to 1/2 mile is moderately technical rocky sections with a few steps and ledges. It's not big stuff, but it was fun to run forwards and then reverse. I was glad to have had the chance to do it. And clearly, since I emerged unscathed, the darkness and the snow/mud add nice elements of challenge to an otherwise tame trail.
 So there were two groups I had hoped to meet up with. One was staying at Hone Quarry Campgrounds. The other was staying at some GPS coordinates for an elevated meadow. I figured I'd have better luck finding the folks at the established campground. So after I finished on the trail at about 230am, I headed over to Hone Quarry. I got there maybe around 3:30, pulled into an empty spot and reclined the seat for a few hours until folks started waking up.
 We were heading over to Flagpole first, but there was an epic adventure first to find gasoline. And it took us like 10 miles out of the way.

 This Citgo has banker's hours. Had to drive to the Shell on 33 outside of Harrisonburg.
 I was already aired down from the night before. Stopped here off of Union Springs Rd.
 I loved seeing this on his rear axle. Sometimes, when it has been a while since I've been off road, I get this urge to "drive over stuff'. My psyche will remind me, "Will, it has been a while since we've driven over something.". Or if I'm running late and we miss the turn arrow, my psyche will ask, "Is it justified to drive over this median to complete the turn? We totally have the clearance."
 Lots of agua.

This video was a section on FlagPole where you descended down and could loop back up to make this climb. Some of the trucks were getting rejected here. Veronica is a feisty girl. We slid a bit and rocked off camber, but she is no longer being denied. She just refuses.

 And even more mud. This is all from the Flag Pole action.

I would normally just sit one of these out, but Veronica has gotten a bit more bold as of late. When I got up on top and got out of the truck and looked at the stair, I was a bit upset with myself for putting her up there. But we got a good spot from Brandon and made it work.

 The other group had camped here for the night. But at about 2am, the winds picked up to over 50 mph and was threatening to capsize their tents. So they moved further down into the valley. I would have never found them had I tried to come here in the twilight hours instead of Hone Quarry. Cell reception was also terrible in this area. My focus of late has been on HAM radio and other strategies. I was just surprised by how pervasive the lack of coverage was. I've been other places in the forest and received unexpected phone calls and such and had to explain, "Umm, I'm three-wheeling...Yes there are four wheels...tough to explain...don't want to tip over. Bye". But none basically. We were also both monitoring a specific CB channel, but there just wasn't the range. I really need to try to get a couple more guys into HAM. One of the guys I met out of this group immediately noticed the antenna and was familiar with the model, specs, everything. He didn't have his mobile rig set up, but he immediately recognized my setup. The group leader also had this cell reception booster antenna. So his wife was able to post an update to Facebook the day prior which alerted me to which specific site they had taken up. I had expected to have wireless broadband connectivity as well that night, but it wasn't until the morning that I understood why the disparity existed. I will need to look into this. As if I need ANOTHER antenna. I already have like 5. Truck looks like a damn porcupine. If I'm not careful, it is going to end up on HamSexy.

 I need to research this area. This is where we went to after Flagpole. It is right at the WV border. There were a couple of fun places to play on this otherwise short trail. It continued on for a good way. I think I heard the guys saying it ultimately connects back into Flagpole or another series of trails. Need to bookmark this.
 I set up the timer shot on the back of Jacob's tailgate.
 I'm just going to leave some photos here so that guys can come here and download some of them.

 These views are from the trail over by Forest Road 85

 This was unfortunate. My fellow Frontier got high centered. He took an offshoot shortly after I was designated to lead the group back down off the mountain. I couldn't get into position before one of those opportunistic Jeeps swooped in to make the recovery. I protested, "You unhook him. We recover our own!"

But it turned out they were actually anxious to save face on the day. There were several minor mechanical issues and overheating scares by a few of the Jeeps. The FJ, the Ford (full size F150) and the two Nissans were otherwise unfazed until this happened...which wasn't even bad.

 He actually reattempted the mogul once he was pulled off and cleared it. The Jeeps and FJ followed. I've scraped enough tops off of moguls at this point in my career. So the F150 and I continued down the main trail until that one linked back up with us. Here I am just flexing and waiting. No big deal.

I will depart with a little bit of "No-Pro action"

My one-handed driving has really improved though.

And then there's some more gratuitous mud. It's almost like I had a force field and was throwing the mud away from my hand and the camera.