NOAS 2006 Spring Run @ Harlan was a success!

Thursday, May 11th:

The first members arrived at the Black Mountain Offroad park on Thursday afternoon. It was determined the original campsite location's main entrance would most likely pose too much of a challenge of negotiating for noobs, so the location was changed to a site much farther into the offroad park.

As it turned out, after a 2 mile fire road trail, the 2nd campsite was much better suited for the expected turnout. Situated at the top of a strip-mined clearing, mountain range views were available in all directions. And the camp site area estimated to be around 20 acres in size offered plenty of space for all to find their own space.

The first member to arrive was John (porsche996) from Louisville, Kentucky. John setup base camp just in time to see the first of many thunderstorms roll in. In the early afternoon, the emergency weather forecast station screamed out, "expect wind gusts of up to 40 mph with strong damaging hail possible". As fortune would have it, though, it was nothing worse than a torrential rainfall for approximately 30 minutes.

After the rain, John headed back down the entrance trail to head to town, where by shear dumb luck he ran into the next member, Ryan (grimgreg) wandering around, looking lost. Thanks to the terrain, cell phone service was spotty, and Ryan hadn't received word on the campsite change. The two head back up the fire-road to the campsite, and John watched as Ryan setup his base camp, with the only offer of help coming as an offer from John to hold his beer for him as he beat a few tent stakes to death with a hammer.

A quick bite to eat and they were headed off to Harlan for supplies, about 20 minutes away. A couple hundred dollars later at the local Wally World, and the two were ready to head back up the road to get back. Fortunately the offroad park was practically abandoned, and long stretches of time away from camp posed no threat of losing any gear. Other than the "Bear Habitat" warning sign near camp, no threats of, well, anything were encountered.

Over night, several thunderstorms rolled through the area, but again, nothing happened to base camp. Surprisingly enough, once morning came there was hardly any evidence of storms at all. The formerly strip-mined hill top allows for excellent drainage, and no mud and/or puddles were around. The perfect campsite (except for the fact it's all shale & coal rocks...)

Friday, May 12th:

The day started out nice enough. A cool night (low 40s) lead way to a crisp morning in the 50s. Not so much to be cold, but enough to need a jacket most of the time. Friday morning and early afternoon were spent getting things prepared for the impending onslaught of crazed 4x4 Nissans. Firewood was split, a grill was pieced together, and thanks to some handy bright red duct tape & some cardboard, directional signs for the club were strapped to various locations along the fire-trail.

The rest of the morning/early afternoon was spent doing basically nothing. John took the opportunity to change the oil in his truck with the added bonus of creating an excellent fire-starting fluid... Other than that, not much was done other than some lazy lounging and waiting.

Sometime in the afternoon, people slowly started trickling in. Kelly & Kelly arrived first, followed by the Virginia & North Carolina caravan, and later in the evening, the Knoxville crew and a few more individuals from various locations. Unfortunately, not all got to base camp under their own power. The Knoxville crew found the fire-trail a little bit too challenging for a 2WD van pulling a patrol, so they were unfortunately stopped on trail, praying for a miracle... That materialized when John was returning from town, only to find Levi walking up the trail, about a 1/4 mile from the trail head.... About another 1/4 mile in and what do you know... A big white van was blocking the trail.

After some work to unload the patrol, and its half-arse attempt to drive itself, resulted in the van driving on up the trail, and leaving the Patrol hauling to John. Towing the patrol up the road gave the perfect opportunity to show off the new headers & the new engine sound, which is said to carry quite well through the valleys. Stopping every 100 yards or so to pick up trailer debris from the van made the going slow, but eventually we got up the trail and back into camp.

Friday night went as most normal NOAS runs. Story telling by the fire, remembering old runs, and catching up with friends. It wasn't too late when everyone headed to bed to get sleep for was was sure to be a long day.

Saturday, May 13th:

Saturday, a few last minute repairs were made and the group headed up to the top of the mountain to get a group picture. On the way up, Kelly snapped a hiem joint and held things up while they drove back to base camp to weld it back together. Kelly was done for the day as they didn't trailer the truck this time and had to get it home on the welded heim. The picture was taken and we all headed back to base camp to figure out what trails we were going to take.

Being our first time at Harlan, we were shooting for medium trails with bypasses for the stock rigs. Well, we ended up kinda okay except for one trail which we think was an ATV just kept getting narrower and narrower. The rest of the trails were great. Richard and Steve decided to hit a REALLY difficult trail. Most of the trails the others were on offered little bits of challenges, but then we ran into a local that told us about the rock garden and an "easy trail" that starts near the top of the rock garden.

We headed to the rock garden to see Richard test his newly acquired Pathy and Steven strut his stuff as well. This turned out to to be the highlight of the weekend when Richard flopped his pathy over on it's side. With help from all hands and a shoulder, we got it back on it's wheels and out of the rock garden with only a broken windshield from a helping shoulder of Levi. Steven decided that he wasn't going to chance it anymore and pulled out of the rock garden about half way up.

It was off to the trails again as the day was getting late. This easy trial proved to be much more challenging... I guess when the guy telling you it's easy is a local with a rock crawling buggy thing, everything is easy for him. The first obstacle was a 3 foot drop, we got everyone through with no damage...the next was a tight turn in a ravine with a large fender eating rock sticking out on the right side. Again we got everyone through with only very minimal scratches on the right side of a few rigs.

On the way back on the FS road John tried to show off how his truck with said new headers and exhaust could blow Nate away....he wasn't pulling away from Nate until POP, Nate broke a t-bar. He limped it back to camp and cracked a beer to leave putting his spare on until the next day.

Again, the fire side chat was wonderful....the chicken dinner was awesome and the little bit of rain we got was just fine with everyone. Raffle prizes were drawn and everyone was happy. No one really knows what time the fire went out, but it's pretty safe to say it was pretty late.

Sunday, May 14th:

Sunday morning, people were leaving to head home early for Mother's Day. John, Brandi, Nate, Trisch, Hunter and Ricardo stuck around to make one final sweep for garbage. And they were off home as well.

We hope that the next run goes as smooth as this one...and that you can be there.


The pictures from the run can be viewed in the gallery.