Trip Report: BROG’s August Overlanders’ Hangout & More Exploring in Jefferson National Forest

Although it was a bit last minute, I’ll never turn down a chance to head to Virginia and hang out with the folks at Blue Ridge Overland Gear.  They decided to host another Overlanders’ Hangout along with Mountain State Overland this month.  Matt also offered up a chance to camp on his farm.

I promise this is not a recycled photo.
I just always seemed to park here when I hit Sheetz on my way out of town.

With plans in motion I set my sites on Bedford, again, and headed south.  Friday night was the hangout at BROG followed by a visit to a local brewery which was then followed by a campfire at the farm which was then followed by much needed sleep.  The following day I set out with John of New Horizon’s Overland to do a little exploring in Jefferson National Forest.  Read on for photos and more details of the trip…

Southbound and Down

It was a foggy morning Friday.  Luckily as I drove south, and the morning sun moved higher in the sky the fog cooked off.

Southbound on I81 heading out of PA into Maryland

Snaking my way through some backroads then over the Blue Ridge Mountains toward Bedford

Before the Overlanders’ Hangout

Blue Ridge Overland Gear is located in Bedford, VA.  I’m starting to lose track of the number of visits I’ve made to their new store, but no trip is ever a disappointment.  According to some inside info I knew there were a number of people planning to attend.

The BROG store is starting to flesh out with a mix of new and used gear.If you look closely you can also see the new prototype mini-skottle Tembo Tusk is developing.

 One of the reasons I headed down early was a pre-hangout meeting with a representative from the Virginia Park Service.  BROG, MSO, and ECOA are working together to plan a “Roof Top Tent Rally” at a state park in central VA.  My role in this will be as the education coordinator helping to not only teach classes, but also bring in other qualified and experienced instructors.  Sadly that’s about as much information I can share other than the event will hopefully be sometime in late October.  Stay tuned for details and keep and eye on social media.

Whether business or pleasure, I always try to eat local.
In this case it was an old train station in Bedford.
Got to eat good food while enjoying good weather on a track-side deck.

August Overlanders’ Hangout

After lunch we headed back to the BROG parking lot and watched as people rolled in.

Adam of Overland History has a sweet XJ.
Almost makes me miss mine.

John’s sweet JKU with a rear facing RTT.

Matt’s Land Cruiser with RTT and new awning.

A trio of reg overland adventure rigs.

Mountain State Overland and their sweet Toyota Tacoma.
Stay tuned for Season 4 as they venture north again to Vermont to tackle the Vermont Overland Trophy route.
(I’ll admit it. If I ever switch from Jeep to Toyota, I’d want a Taco like this)

Hanging out sharing stories and talking gear.

After the hangout we headed over to Beale’s Brewery for some more social time…
… and of course some cold tasty local beer.

When things wrapped up at Beale’s we convoyed over to Matt’s farm for a few hours around the camp fire.  I’d love to share some funny stories and some photos from that part of the night… but it’s probably better that I not.  All I’ll say is it was one hell of a good time and the next Overlanders’ Hangout cannot come soon enough.

The Morning After

Last ones to bed…
…. last ones up in the morning.

An amazing steak omelet at a little hole in the wall cafe.

Felt like I was eating in someone’s kitchen.
You know, if they had 8 different tables and no matching chairs.

Into Jefferson National Forest

With a day to kill, John, of New Horizons Overland, and I headed into Jefferson National Forest.  Our plan was to renew our exploration from earlier this year and find some more routes parallel to the Blue Ridge Parkway.  This first section was provided by Adam of Overland History.  From there we just explored the forest.

Not used to not being in the lead.
With all the dust I’m thinking I’ll need to invest in a snorkel at some point.

Some fun switchbacks as we snaked our way up the mountainside.

This is where things got interesting.
A seasonal two-track that is only open from August through early January.

Getting ready to tackle the trail.
I left the tires fully inflated but I did pop the JKS swaybar disconnects.

The trail took us under the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The people passing above probably had no idea there was a trail under them.

The trail also overlapped the Appalachian Trail for about an ⅛ of a mile.
I can now say I have legally driven my Jeep on the Appalachian Trail.

Once he was done with his shift at BROG, Adam of Overland History joined up with John and I.

Now I’m third in line…
… so much dust…
… I’m thinking I’ll have a snorkel for the 2018 season.
Now the question is, which one?

Pulled over for a quick pop of the hood on Adam’s Jeep.
Also, check out that sweet vintage Coca-Cola sign on the house.

This was the prevalent theme of the day.
Some of them were well marked like this one.
Others not so much.

If you follow ECOA on social media you probably saw a short video clip of me talking about some plans for 2018 and a shift back toward route making.  I hope to resume work on the “one lap” series not only here in PA but also places like Jefferson National Forest. Again, stay tuned for more.

With our day of exploration done it was time to head to Roanoke for some social time with some fellow overlanders.  We were invited to come down for a cookout and then watch the fight.  All in all it was a good low key night.

Heading Home via Smith Mountain Dam

Sunday John and I pointed our rigs east for a slight detour on our way back to our respective homes.

Saw Smith Mountain Dam on the map and it sounded cool.

So glad we stopped.  While we were there they were doing a release.
There was also an epic visitor’s center with a lot of great information on the dam.

This trolly was used as part of the cableway that was used to carry concrete buckets to the dam during construction.

The backside of the dam.

With out time at the dam over, and the afternoon pushing into the evening, we loaded up and made our way home.

On of my last views of John’s AEV equipped JK before he continued east and I turned north.

All in all it was a great weekend and as I said I can’t wait till the next one.  If you have a chance to stop by BROG for one of the Overlanders’ Hangouts, or if you’re just passing through Bedford, please do. You won’t be disappointed.

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Route development will be a major project for the 2018 season of ECOA.  If you’d like to help be a part of helping support that process, please considering joining the ECOA Patron Support Team. Not only will you help take ECOA to the next level but you’ll get access to patron exclusive items like hardcover copies of the 2017 No Highways Tour books as well as a 10% discount at the ECOA/NHT online store on cool swag like patches and stickers.