Sunday, September 12, 2010

Laurel Fork Campout Spring 2010

I had just finished (or so I thought) buying all of the equipment and supplies that I thought I would need for my TAT ride and remembered having seen a post on advrider about a campout at Laurel Fork. I decided this would be a great way to give all of my equipment a "shakedown run". It would be close to 200 miles of riding to get down there (about what I was planning on doing each day on the TAT) and I'd get to use all of my camping gear. I headed out Saturday morning at about 8 am. I made my first stop for gas/food in Washington, Pa. While I was eating a bacon egg 'n cheese biscuit a guy came over and was asking me all kinds of questions about my bike and what I was up to. This turned out to be a very common occurrence as I rode west on the TAT. Most people I talked to were very surprised that I'd ride such a long distance on a dual-sport. On my way south I rode through Morgantown, WV. I'd never really been through the downtown area before. It seemed like a cool town to do the college thing at. I stopped for lunch in Elkins, WV and then started on the back roads that would take me the rest of the way to the campsite. Some of those roads were the best I rode on this trip, with ruts, mud, and some good switchbacks that were all a lot of fun. I finally rolled into the campsite around 7 pm. I didn't know a single person there. Apparently there were a few rufcutriders there the night before and I had just missed them. So I spent the rest of the evening traveling from campfire to campfire introducing myself and chatting with a bunch of new people. Everyone I met was really great and there were some real characters there.

The next morning everyone split up into a few different groups and we went out to ride. My group headed for Smith Mountain road. Smith Mountain was a fun ride. When we got to the end a few people split up. I ended up following the wrong riders and lost the rest of the group. I hadn't filmed any of Smith Mountain, so I turned back and rode it the other direction and filmed the whole stretch. After filming Smith Mountain, I decided just to go exploring and snake my way back towards camp. Along the way, I saw a sign for Spruce Knob, and decided to head that way. The ride up to Spruce Knob was good scenery and good dirt and gravel roads. It actually got a bit chilly when I got  up in elevation but the view was worth it. I think I saw a few snow flakes in the air as I was heading back down. When I got back to camp others were starting to return as well, some with some found ramps. I wasn't brave enough to try any...but I will the next time I'm down there. We had a great dinner at the camp and then spent the rest of the evening around campfires drinking beers and sharing stories. I met one guy (sorry, forget the name) who had just ridden the TAT. I picked his brain for quite a while and felt reassured that I had planned and prepared wisely.

Sunday morning I packed up the tent and hit the road back home. I was anxious to get home, and tried to ride on I79 for a bit. Big mistake. The big rigs were blowing me all over the road and I could barely keep up with traffic. So I got back off the interstate and took the back roads the rest of the way home. All-in-all, I covered close to 600 miles over the weekend.

I'm hoping to make the fall campout coming up next month.


The route I put together to get to Laurel Fork:

My actual route:

The ride report thread on

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