I have been watching Mountain State Overland on YouTube for a few years. When I saw that they do guided trips through West Virginia and Virginia, I knew that I need to sign up. I emailed Jason about trips, and signup dates and he said that they sell out very fast. I set many reminders to make sure that I register as soon as the registration opens. The day came, I was lucky to get get spot. With just under one year til the trip; now time to get all the gear needed to camp. I have not camped since High School back in the boy scouts. I had my old sleeping bag, but no tent, sleeping pad, stove, kitchen gear, lights. Spreadsheets, forums, and many FaceBook posts and I had a start on a list. Over the next year I was busy getting all the gear, and building my new Jeep.
The MSO team has sent out possible routes that we will take. Road conditions, weather, and other external conditions, they might have to change the route.
Finally the day has come, I’m all packed up and ready to hit the road. We get GPS Coordinates to a private cabin where we are starting out. Its about a 5 hour drive from my house, so Im hitting the road first thing in the morning. I want to get to the cabin around 3-5PM.
I have two planned stops on the way, first is at Cabela’s in Charleston, WVA. I need to get a few last minute things and always fun to stop and look around.
Next is a place Ive been wanting to see for many years. The Greenbrier Hotel.
The Greenbrier has always been a luxury hotel but it became very famous in 1992 when the Washington Post broke the story that the hotel was a Top Secret Cold War Bunker for the US Congress. They do tours of the bunker, but I missed the tour for today. I was still able to walk around the lobby and shops, and I did find one of the steel armor plated/blast doors. After a few pictures outside with the Jeep, back on the road to the cabin.
After a top off of the gas tanks, and down some back country roads, I find the cabin. Almost everyone is there. After meeting everyone, I set up camp before dark.
Part of the tour that MSO offers I that they provide dinner each night. The first night was a Pot-Luck starters. It was great to meet everyone that was going to be on this trip and share our experiences and stories. MSO Team ember, Gaby Saliba, owns a restaurant in Roanoke, and as a chief, he prepared burgers for all of us. Jason showed us a sneak peak of the trailer for the new YouTube season that will be on YouTube later in the winter. We enjoyed the rest of the night enjoying conversation over the campfire.
Day 2 starts out with break down of camp and a discussion over breakfast on what to expect the next 2 days on the trails. The plan is about 100 miles today, paralleling the Blue Ridge Parkway for a bit in the morning. With overcast rain clouds and the tress just about at the fall Peak Color, its a beautiful drive. The roads we are running are scenic, not technical, but that is what overloading is. 4WD, and high clearance vehicles are needs for most of the roads we are doing. A stock Jeep will do just fine.
With a big rain storm about to mov our way, we make the decision to make it an early day. I chose to set up camp before the rain not sure if that was a good decision, but I didn’t get any water in my tent. Jason, Gaby and one other person from the group had awnings on their vehicles so we had a large cover to get us out of the rain and start making dinner. We make it an easy night as our last day on the trails is going to be alot of miles as we have to make up some from ending early today.
We sort out day 2 to sunshine and warmer weather. The past 2 days have been overcast, rain and cold. We hit a few more technical roads today, which are a-lot of fun. One of these roads the stream/creek has completely overtaken the road. We have our first causality of the trip. One of the guys after going through a water crossing, his radiator fan came loose and punctured his radiator. With coolant leaking, he can’t start his engine. Jason and Gaby hook up a tow stop and we tow him off the trail and into New Castle, VA. We are lucky as we are almost off the trail/road so its a daily easy tow.
When I said in the beginning out possibly rout that we will take, here is where the MSO Team needs to work on Plan B. While we have lunch in the parking lot, Jason and the driver figure out a plan. The new plan is for a tow truck to come get the drive and get him to a shop hear his house. Gaby stays with him and we are going meet up later in the afternoon. Jason, takes us up on a ridge line with great views of sth valley below. We meet up with Gaby later in the day. Jason and Gaby have the Midland GMRS MXT-400 Radios in each of the their vehicles. With being at 40 watts of power they are able to have radio contact where we have no cell coverage. They are talking over 10 miles away from each other. We meet up with Gaby and continue our way. Jason has a big night for us. We end up at the Kairos resort outside Rich Creek, VA. This is resort is for ATV’s and motor cycles, but Jason knows the owners and has they have cleared out top of a hill for us to setup camp. We have a fun downhill with a tight off camber turn into a creak, then we have a long steep hill towards camp. Not everyone in the group has a winch, so Jason has about every-other vehicle be one with a winch. No one needs a winch and makes it up the hill with no trouble. Up to a great clearing where we make camp. Jason and Gaby make great pizzas on the Skottle. Campfire, conversations and reflexions to a great trip.
We end the trip with a great group, we had great food every night, fantastic conversations over camp fires.
I hope to meet up the the Mountain State Overland in the future.