MAFWDA Potomac State Forest Camping Weekend
Let’s just say this was different than any other Potomac trip for as long as I have been going there.
Pam and I headed up on Wednesday, the 10th. Pam tells me on the CB that the Jeep is pinging more than usual. Keep in mind, she is pulling a heavy 15’ fiberglass Chrysler run about. As we are heading up South Mountain on I70, she tells me on the radio that something happened to the engine. So, I am towing a 29’ travel trailer behind my `98 Cummins. So, I had to go quite a ways up the road so I could turn around. Then the same deal to get up behind her.
Pam started it up. That is when it was discovered that the #1 spark plug had shot out. So, we get up into the rest stop. Needless to say, thing weren’t looking too good. Then Pam is talking to Emily, my youngest daughter. She just happened to be in Frederick. She was kind enough to go to Advance and get me what I needed to make the repairs. My boat trailer has bearing buddies on it, so there was my grease source to catch the shavings. Repairs made. All was good. Just some rattled nerves.
After a nice lunch at the Cassellman, we did the final leg of our trip. The road into the forest had been smoothed out real nice. That made trailer towing in, much easier than normal. The lane into the campsite was quite wet and remained that way until the very last day up there.
Yet, we got set up easily. Still, our 4 hr. trip was more like 8hrs. But, we got there. Thursday morning the rain was really intense. Right after that, Mike DeChristopher and family arrived in their 38’ bus and Jeep. Then my middle daughter Sarah and Kevin.
Earlier that day, Pam and I did our touring. We stopped at Brennaman’s Store. Turns out, that gentleman there is related to Pam. Part of her family is from the New Germany/Grantsville area, from way back.
Friday, Kevin and I, as well as the DeChristopher family went out on Jennings Randolph Lake. What a great place. That evening, most of the group showed up at camp.
Saturday, more folks showed up. We had the largest crowd there in many, many years. So, off we went, in two groups to paint DNR gates. (Ironic, eh?) Andrew’s group did like 4 or five gates. That was awesome. My group went to the worse gate on the Forest. Someone had painted it blue. Rust and growth really did a number on this gate. We should have brought up some Bondo. We brought power tools to make life easier so we could knock out more gates. So, I thought. First problem. The generator would not start. (found out at home, the full shut off valve was clogged. Used compressed air and it was fixed) So, it did take quite some time to do this gate and do it right, less the rust holes.
So, I knew this road would lead us down to another road that would take us down to Laurel Run Road. Well, with so much rain, the vegetation made it so difficult to spot the trail head, that twice I lead the group right past it. So, we relied on GPS. Bad move. Wrong road, again. One that I knew, but it was washed out. Almost got in a real bad situation there.
So, finally, I found it. I got down to the gate and started to work, not knowing that Sarah and Kevin high centered their 2019 Rubicon JLU. I really did not worry, as the folks there could easily pull them loose. Again, so I thought. Well, they did get down to where I was. By then I had the gate painted, myself. Unfortunately, this ate up valuable time. So, from there we headed back to camp. That was disappointing that we only knocked out 2 gates.
After a restful lunch, we all head down to Ramsey Road-Rattlesnake Ridge Road. Have you ever had that feeling that something is not right. Well, no one was camping at the trail head. So, that was good. The first stretch of the trail was real fun, short of the hand full of trees that we needed to chainsaw out of the way.
Then my XJ randomly just slides off of the road. Keep in mind, this is a shelf road with a wicked grade on either side. I figured, well this is it. Apparently the Lord had other plans. I had enough wit about me to give it just enough throttle to spin the Jeep perpendicular to the trail and slide down to a berm. A safe stop, which could have been real bad. Mike DeChristopher jumped into action and the long and short of it, I was up on the trail, safe, in less than 15 minutes. It was at that time, I felt it was best that we turn around. I do not want anyone hurt due to my bad judgement. With that being said, some folks had slide off of the road a ways back into a hole a fallen tree had created, including, Emily, my youngest daughter, as well as Tom Taylor in his very well equipped 1974 Bronco.
On the way back out, two vehicles got flat tires. Ten to fifteen minutes each and then we were on the way out.
The soil resembled a quality synthetic grease. This due to 3 years of exceptional rain fall and tons of vegetation dying and growing, coupled with Thursday’s rain. Any other year, it could rain on Friday and the road would be dry on Saturday. Not this year!
So next, we went to the “Loop Road” (Snowmobile trail) This features some steep grades, switch backs and a substantial wash. Typically, this trail is real fun, four low a must, as well as airing down and sways bars disconnected. Again, the trail was slippery. Still, I was not having any issues. Still, we had one that did not not air down and another that simply did not air down enough. The first one not aired down enough, had to be pulled up. That took some doing. The next was a Rubicon, not aired down. He could not even start to go up that grade. He winched himself up, but trashed his winch in the process. Busted the housing. So, most of the rest of the vehicles had to be pulled up. The next hill, I had to back down and hit it harder, but, all was good. After properly airing down, everyone made it up the next hill. Other than some more downed trees to cut away, the rest of the trip was uneventful and a blast. Still, same slickness on at least half of the trail.
That night was a real great time at the campfire. Some folks did not turn in until after 1:00am.
Sunday, most folks left early. Still, we had enough to do a trailride and scenic ride to the river. A great time.
Back at camp, more folks left, including Mike.
Once again, that night, a real nice campfire.
Sunday evening, I signed up Kevin and Sarah, Tom Taylor, as well as Pam and I to go to the first day opening of Wolf’s Den Run State Park. $10.00 per person. I have a Golden Age Pass, so I went in at no cost. Registering is easy. Have your credit card handy, as operators are waiting. Okay, just have your credit card out when you call.
The DNR really wants this to work out and has put a lot of work into this park and more to come. This is the first of 3 sections to be opened. The next one is slated for next spring.
In short, we had a great time. Nearly getting stuck twice and extremely muddy in one area. The staff there are very excited about this part and that we were there. They are really into this OHV primary use park. We even found a picnic area, in the shade. What a great day!
I have been invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on August 28th. The Maryland DNR is really behind this, from the top down.
To make reservations, call the Herrington Manor State Park at 301-334-9180 or visit that office at 222 Herrington Lane, Oakland, Md. 21550. Real nice folks there.
For some pictures and videos from Potomac, Andrew Taylor from Core supplied this link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/KdR1xyTbcHJQW1QA9
As far as next year. That is very uncertain right now. Due to some family events, it is very questionable. Plus, I am not sure if Manager, Ranger Scott Campbell will be willing to continue our tradition. Regardless, I recommend folks camp on the Potomac State Forest and wheel at WDRSP. Eventually, there will be camping on the new park property.