Rona Escape on the M.A.B.D.R. June/July 2020

So we have been itching to get out of the house and Emily and I were wanting to stay away from as many people as possible. We had tossed around the idea of running the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway and camping along the way, or heading to vermont and chillin in the mountains, or possibly just heading west as far as we could get for a bit. Well, I had looked at the Backcountry Discovery Routes a few years ago, but they were all out west. Low and behold last year they released a Mid Atlantic version. (they are currently developing a Southeast version). I downloaded the map and started taking a look at what it would include and if it was possible in a 10 day vacation.

The map:


The route is free to download, and there are a number of trip reports detailing camping and sites to see along the way. It was all double track at least, this BDR had no single track/ATV trails on it so I figured we should be good. I spent a few nights going over the details and we worked up a plan and food list. We were going to attempt to not by anything but gas and ice for 10 days in the backcountry of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

We left on Friday June 26 after work and headed to camp on Old NC 105 on the side of Linville Gorge in North Carolina.

It started out a little wet right out of the gate.
We made it to Old NC 105 around 7:30 and the weather had cleared up. Most of the good overview campsites were full, so we snagged a back in site on the other side of the road. We were pretty drained from work that day and driving up so we basically pulled in and walked the dogs and had a quick bite to eat and headed to bed around 9.

We woke up around 7:30 and the dogs were both squirmy and ready for breakfast so we got up and grabbed some cliff bars and walked them for a bit in the cool morning and then loaded up to head to the start of the trail.


Made a brief stop at the typical Old NC 105 vista.

On the way we passed the original Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, NC. I had been in the store back a few years ago, but Emily hadn't, well it was shut down due to Covid, so no luck today even peaking in.


We made it to Damascus around lunch time and drove through the town briefly. We want to take a trip up here again and ride the Virginia Creeper Trail, so we wanted to just see what the bike shops and trail looked like.

We stopped at a little park near town with a creek and had a picnic lunch right by the Creeper trail, the trail passes by the park and a little restaurant here.


The M.A.B.D.R. starts in Damascus for all intents and purposes, but officially it starts at this waterfall, so we had to stop.


We came up on a cool area soon after. They had cut a pass right through the rock for a hundred yards or so, but it was only one lane.


we stumbled upon Larry's Mountain house. We'll have to ask him about this for future trips.

Cows hanging by the river.

and this was the first of about 100k white churches that we saw on our trip. I think they all used the same plans.


We were making our way down a gravel farm road when we came upon this old swinging Bridge. There were no signs saying not to trespass and there are numerous hiking trails that cross this area so we ventured over for a closer look.

I dont think you can read the sign, but it basically says no more than 3 people and no sudden movements on the bridge....made me feel really good.

Notice the death grip I have on the cable because as soon as you step foot on this thing it starts swaying.


We walked down to the creek and Em got her flip flop stuck on the way out.
Saw the first of many wildlife sightings when a Doe and her fawn were one the gravel road as we drove up. The mom ran up the bank, and the fawn hid in the ditch. She plastered herself down for safety.

There were sites to see all afternoon. The dirt roads were awesome and smooth curving through the mountains.

We started to get a little fog that afternoon and it was overcast but it made for some cool photos.
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We made it to a roadside campsite we liked around 5pm and started making some dinner. We realized we had forgotten the grill grate, so we used the marshmallow roaster to cook sausages and ate them with some sweet carrots. The weather was cool and clear and it was nice to just hang out for a few hours and chat around the fire. Long time no Camp.
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Day 2 started with some Bacon egg and cheese sandwhiches on the griddle and coffee. We packed up and headed north.

Cool dirt roads along the way

Just wandering over the mountain ridges

Came into this little "town" but this was the only building surrounded by maybe 4-5 houses.

Saw this overlook on the side of the road, but it had posted private property signs. This lady came sliding down the road and pulled off and ran under the gate and started snapping pics. We didnt venture over to the overlook structure.

The road through this area was beautiful!

Tons of cows through this area, the grass looked painted on
The bridge engineer in Emily and me was going nuts on this bridge. In SC we can't build bridges like this with a "sag" in the middle. if the drainage ever plugs up it can fill up like a bathtub and cause failure. Evidentally its cool in Virgina.


Drove past the Mountain Lake Lodge where they filmed part of "Dirty Dancing"



Then we found a hike to White Rocks Overlook on the AT. Hiked up to the top but it was just white fog.


More White Churches


We stopped at a really cool family graveyard right before Tub Run Road and had lunch.

The dogs loved the run to the graveyard

Then it was time to hit one of the "trails" that they call out on the MABDR that is more difficult. I'm sure it might be on a dual sport bike, but in a jeep it was just bumper with some washouts.


No legs on the side of the road

Huge Culvert that was washing out from the recent rains

Then we came up on something that I wanted to check out for future trips. I'll be planning a trip up here at some point in the future with my TJ. Looks like an awesome trail to run. We could camp here at the campground near the trailheads.
Potts Mountain Jeep Trail



More awesome farm views in the mountains
Woke up to a wonderful cool morning, grabbed some breakfast bars and coffee and hit the road.

We needed to make up some time as this was a 9 day trail and we only had 7-8 to do it. First obstacle of the day... a culvert had washed out and there was a sink hole turned mud hole. There was a truck stuck in this yesterday. It was no problem for us, but it could be a bigger problem soon.


The morning was awesome!

Had a while on some smooth fast gravel

then opened up into farms again


After an hour or so on another gravel road we stopped for lunch and found this sign. No sure the history on this one, no black bears today.



The area is filled with old houses and barns like this:

We saw so many deer, a fox, beavers, chipmunks, turkeys, and 7 black bears over the course of the trip.
We crossed over an old bridge and saw a parking area where the road went down to the shore so we decided to take a swim brake with the dogs.




more fun gravel along the way

Found another cool creek crossing and let the dogs swim. It was a hot one that day. the water felt great.


Two big US Govt Military Trucks came through while we were parked here, We were near the NSA listening station at this point so there was a good bit of tucked away military presence.


Another cool old barn perched on a hill

Pulled in to Big Bend to stop the night at Big Bend Campground in WV.



There was a really cool cliff off the back of this campsite, it dropped about 200 yards at a very steep angle. Made for a nice breeze at the top.

We enjoyed hanging out for dinner and around the fire.
We were excited about the showers in the morning since this was our first campground since we had left.