JPG Takes Richmond Part 2 The Return Home
By Fred Moskey
18 Nov 2012
Tuesday 30 October was as suspected, "Sandy" had brought in colder air, with wind and rain. I loaded my bags into the Durango and checked out of my room. We gathered in the hotel lobby to say our goodbyes and departed Richmond.
I first encountered snow as I ascended the grade on Afton Mountain. The hilltops were sprinkled with a light frosting of snow. The highway remained clear.
I retraced the route I took to Richmond, heading back down VA Rt. 42 near Staunton. It was there snow started to pelt my windshield and the mountaintops were a dull shade of white.
When I got to Goshen, VA I got the bright idea of switching to VA Rt. 39, heading west over the mountains to Marlinton, WV. I thought the snow on Kennison Mountain, between Marlinton and Richwood, would make for some interesting picture taking. The picture taking was correct but I encountered more snow than I had bargained for. I knew there was a lot of snow forecast for the mountains of West Virginia, but I also knew the WV Department of Highways did a fine job of keeping the major roadways open.
I stopped for gas at Huntersville just outside of Marlinton and inquired about the road to Richwood. I was told as far as they knew it was open. They were only partially right it was open only as far as the Greenbrier County line. I wish I had known this in advance but I had to find it out the hard way.
I worked my way up Kennison Mountain with a light coating of fresh snow falling on the roadway. The higher I traveled the more snow started to pile up and the intensity of the falling snow increased. The light came on telling me to engage the non-slip differential. The snowfall was now turning into a blizzard as the wind swept snow across the roadway. I wasn't too worried because the road appeared to have been recently plowed and I was in my trusty 4wd Durango. I topped Kennison Mountain and the going still wasn't too bad. The new fallen snow was beautiful and I continued to snap pictures through the windshield as I drove. I even took a short video as I approached the turn-off to the Falls of Hills Creek.
When I got to the Greenbrier County line I received a surprise. The road had not been plowed and there was just a single track through about 20 inches of new snow. I should have known better but I kept going. Big mistake! About 3 miles further down the mountain I encountered the blocked road. A fallen tree had stopped a West Virginia State Police vehicle, and a Department of Corrections vehicle. A Corrections Officer came up to my vehicle and informed me the road was closed. He said there were fallen trees everywhere and the road was not going to be plowed that day. He helped me get turned around and I began to plow my way back up the mountain.
I made my way back to where the snow had been plowed and stopped. I guess the police officer in me kicked in because I stayed there with my flashers on in order to keep any other vehicles from making the same mistake I had made. Another vehicle from the Department of Corrections approached and I told him what was ahead on the road. He opted to put tire chains on and said he would assist the other officers if they could not make it back out. By the time he got the chains on the other vehicles had made it to where we were stopped. With me leading the way we started back to the intersection with U.S. 219. As we approached the entrance to The Highland Scenic Highway a tractor and trailer was headed for the same area we had just left. The Trooper stopped him as I continued back down the mountain. At that point I felt I had done my civic duty and left the rest up to the professionals.
I entered I-64 at Lewisburg and except for a little slipping and sliding on the WV Turnpike I made it safely back home.
I did get a few "snow" pictures for my trouble but I wouldn't recommend travel on an unplowed road in deep snow.
The JPG Meet-Up was a great trip and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I couldn't have met a nicer bunch of people. My thanks go out to Linda and Betty for all the work they did making this meeting a huge success.