Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Hatfield McCoy Trail System

Tucked away in the southwestern corner of West Virginia is an extensive motor cross, 4 wheel, and side x side, trail system of over 500 miles.  It is divided in 7 parts that are fully labelled and mapped.  Each section has varied terrain, but I will tell you that the easiest labelled trails are still quite challenging and not for the faint-of-heart.


6 adults, 1 infant, 2 pick up trucks, one 6x12 trailer, 4 dirt bikes, 1 four wheeler and a stroller were tightly packed to make the 950km, each way, commute.  We left on a Friday and returned the following Thursday.  We were routed down I-75 to Dayton, OH, then took #35, #119, and finally #10 into our destination of Man, WV.  Traveling there was half the fun, not the battle, as there was constant laughter, music, trivia, teasing and joking to fill the time along the road.

We stayed at a converted train station called The Depot.  It specifically caters to travelers such as ourselves.  It is located about 1 mile from the main trail head of The Rockhouse trail system - one of the 7.  Alone, it has well over 90 miles of trails that are not only quite rocky, as the name suggests, but hilly, twisty, and muddy. 

On a big ride we'd get 40km in 3 hours.  First there would be periodic stops every 8km or so just to make sure we hadn't lost anyone, and to rest, but secondly the trails don't allow for top speeds.  There are few, if any, "straight-away" sections.  Steep inclines of 50 degrees or so had to be climbed, the steep declines ascended, and all the while doing your best to avoid rocks as big as one's head, mud, holes, and loose gravel.  I wiped out significantly enough twice - over the handle bars and a few rolls, on descents and going very slowly.  Both times my front tire just slid out from me and before I new it I was on my back.  No injury, bruising, soreness, or the like though....  So maybe not significantly in one sense, but significantly in the sense that I was tossed from the bike good enough.  And there were a few times I just simply lost balance and dropped the bike.  Again, no injury or damage to me or the machine.  Even the most seasoned rider in our posse had an off or two.

Most days we'd ride 80km or a bit more - breaking it up with food and drink and rest and such.  We rode extensively through trails into a community called Gilbert, WV.  40 plus km by trail, yet only 15km by highway....  There we got gas, food, and just walked around the town.  It is not uncommon to see unplated vehicles driving through town and doing just as we did.  It is just the way it is down there.

It is a long way to go for such fun, and challenge.  I can rip around on a dirt bike up in Lucknow all day, or around the trails along the Bayfield river.   However the trail system is somewhat iconic, thus a belt buckle notch and something I can say, "I've done that...."  The trails are busy, and all the people were very friendly and nice.  I really thought it would be easier riding however.  I was not prepared for how difficult it actually was.  I expected the easiest of the easy stuff to be finely grated stone, flat, and similar to the ripped up rail road tracks around these parts.  But it wasn't.  I thought I did well, and of course my skill set and competence only increased as the week went on.  Trails were also labeled "blue" for more difficult, then black, and of course black diamond.....  We went on a number of blue trails as well. 

This adventure really felt like tree skiing.  It really felt like the ups and downs and the weaving of the skis through the glades.  So I thought of my brother quite a lot on the trip and how much he would enjoy this kind of activity.  He is quite capable on two wheels already, and of course skis, so what would a few extra hundred pounds and an engine add?  I thought he would have really enjoyed the trip and the experience as well. 

And of course the name is very important too - Hatfield and McCoy.  We immersed ourselves in the history and folklore of the feud between these two families.  Some of the bigger blows and events of the fight happened just about 20 miles away.  It wasn't the bloodiest or deadliest feud that gripped the United States, but it went down in history as being memorable in the way it was covered in newspapers and such.  It was memorable in some of the myths surrounding it in the way it started, and how a few killings took place....  So that was an especially neat part about the whole trip too.

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