Paul Climbing - click to enlarge


4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!



On the spur of the moment, a few of us decided to go for a ride.  I posted a message on the OCC mailing list to see if we could muster up some interest.  A small group joined me for an easy Sunday drive. 


First I hooked up with Carl and Steven who coincided with me on Route 270 and Route 118 near Germantown. It could not have been planned better. Up 270 we went. We met the rest of the group at the Sheetz on Rosemont Avenue in Frederick at 10:00am. 

Before Trail

The usual activities ensued. Airing Down. Disconnecting. Kids hanging out. 

Tom, Dylan, and TedOut of OrderCarl's Sticker BoardMarks CJ

Taking on Food and Beverage. Gas. I got cancellations (all timely, thanks for that) for various reasons and soon we were down to seven (7) in the group.

  • Carl Smith
  • Eric N
  • Jim C
  • Mark S
  • Paul P
  • Steve VB
  • Wayne L

I am sorry to say I missed a couple calls on my cell from an unknown number, so if we left someone behind when we left at the appointed time, please accept my apologies.



After a short drive we reached the Frederick Municipal Forest - a small sliver of land nestled between Gambrill State Forest (no motorized vehicles off designated roads), the Frederick Watershed (no motorized vehicles, all roads gated or bermed), the Catoctin Trail (mountain bikes and hikers only) and private property. We are talking about a small piece of land and pretty limited wheeling opportunities.

Be that as it may, it was hard to resist the promise of such a beautiful day, the hope of maybe finding just a little bit of running water, left-over snow, newly mixed mud, rocks, trees, and sunshine. I held no hope for and did not promise any extreme wheeling. And true to my promise, none was to be had. But, that is not to say that at least some of us had some fun just the same.

I knew going in that there was at least one tree that had been slowly inching its way to the ground. I had barely been able to go under it the last time I traveled this way, and I expected it to be unpassable. Sure enough, it had come down a few more inches over the trail and would need to be removed. 

Clearing fallen wood - Click to enlarge

Clearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodKidsClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodClearing fallen woodTed

As it was uprooted, rotten, and devoid of any signs of life, we decided to cut it out of the way.

But as large as this tree was, it would not be a casual job for a little camp saw and a few zzzz zzzzz zzzzz's. As a group, great care in planning and due caution were exercised in selecting the cuts, working the buck saws. Wayne Lau showed preparedness that on this day exceeded my own. He produced a 16" chain saw in a case with a brand new chain! Way to go Wayne!

A few pulls on the cord and some advice from the gallery, and Wayne made what would be the critical cut on the tree that lead to the successful removal. But much work would need to be done before Wayne's cut paid off. During the process of starting the saw, Wayne checked the fuel level and indicated it would be enough.

Let's just say that Wayne was a great sport and taking the teasing the continued for the rest of the day when the saw ran out of gas. What a tough bunch! We got the tree down without anyone getting injured. We stayed on the trail, and continued on our way.

The trail makes a short but interesting loop along a stream, crossing at one point and continuing in sight of the trail to a point where the municipal forest boundary abuts with Gambrill. There, it turns 180-degrees and returns back along the opposite side of the stream to the beginning, doubling back on itself about 1300 yards from the road.


We reached the turn-around point at about 11:30. Up until that time we had enjoyed the clear running stream to our left, the fresh woods all around us, with the dry leaves from last fall covering the trail. When we got to the turn-around, we had moved to the other side of the stream where it appears the snow had not yet melted. It reminded me of those pictures you see in travel brochures of snow fields where people are skiing in shorts and tank tops, and sun everywhere. You wonder if those people are crazy to be out in the snow like they are on a beach. But that's the way it was. It must have been in the high 60's.

Lunch Spot

After Lunch

We found a few fallen logs large enough to sit on and eat lunch. It was beautiful, sitting there in the warm sun (the black OCC T-shirt definitely had Carl and me thinking it was hot out) eating lunch with our drinks staying cool in 4 inches of spotless white granular snow. It was then I noticed Jim C standing there in shorts. Those who know Jim know that he does have a habit of breaking out the shorts pretty early in the year!

Kids - click to enlarge

The kids really had fun too. During the times we were working the fallen trees, and other things that I have not yet related, they pursued fantasies that we adults can only guess about. There were a few moments when my youngest fell in the snow and was confused about whether or not to cry, and not sure if he would survive putting his bare hands in the snow to get up, but mostly they stayed close-by and had fun in their way while we had fun in ours.

With lunch played out, we started up the trail, now in a thin coat of snow. I found the great wonder of keeping a Jeep straight on a slightly off-camber trail when you are running Detroit lockers front and rear. I did pretty well and got through to where the trail was more level, without too much drama. I believe I heard reports of others who had fun with the same challenge, crossing a fallen tree and getting a little sideways. But again, no carnage.


Eventually we came to a fallen tree that was too large to drive over. A go-around was developing here and we made the decision to remove the fallen log to keep the go-around from becoming the trail. We took turns sawing on it. Wayne made sawing with a gas-less chainsaw look easy. When it was sawed almost through, I put a strap on the thing and we dragged it out of the way.

Next we made a project out of crossing another fallen log. I pretty much went around it to the right. I looked back to see Eric had chosen to take the more difficult line and ended up with a large portion of the log threatening to spear the side of his Discovery. 



Each time he attempted to get over the log, the spear got closer until it was touching. He was ready to shrug it off but we persisted in cutting it out of the way so he could get over without damage. The rest of the group managed to cross it in various ways.


From there the going got easier for quite a ways, with several references to Peters Mill and comparisons to this trail. I think this trail is interesting but no more challenging.

Once back to the beginning of the trail, we took a spur that climbs the ridge then cuts north to follow the side of it for a ways, then goes up a very steep hill. On three attempts of this hill in the past, I only made it once by storming it. The failed attempts involved a misguided hope to crawl up. Once, in the rain, and once after a spell of wet weather. The second failed attempt involved winching myself to a place where I could back down the hill and avoid creasing my rear end on a tree that lie in the path dictated by gravity and lack of traction.

Today looked much more promising. Although the stream was fat with runoff, the ground was pretty dry, and the hill looked very do-able. I pondered walking up but Jim C (who also made one successful run in the past) decided he would just go for it.

So up he went, with just enough speed to maintain traction, but not so fast as to be thought a fool. He went up the hill and suddenly found a tree blocking the trail, and a go-around that petered out and disappeared into woods. This on a very steep hill that could not be safely aborted. He found his way to the main trail and made the top, out of sight of the rest of our group.


Mark Climbing - click to enlarge

Mark went next and had very much the same experience, but made the top in fine form. Next, I went. I chose 3rd gear (4-LO with 4.56's, still pretty low) for the hope that it would get me going just fast enough to make the hill, but leave me a little bit of room to punch it if need be. I think that was good choice. I made it past the spot I had gotten stuck last time, and soon found myself scanning desperately to find where the trail went.

Paul Climbing - click to enlarge


The walk up the long steep hill before driving would have been a good idea... I chose what looked like an established path but soon found myself dealing with some loose, fallen, rotten, and wet logs. When my front wheels went over them, the nose of the Jeep immediately sought the bottom of the hill. I was expecting this and terminated my attempt to get over the logs. Instead I backed up until my nose was straight up the hill again, then threaded through some trees and got myself to the top. Not too much drama but definitely some important choices were made there.

I found my youngest sleeping in the back, oblivious to all of this, so Teddy (the older one) and I walked back down a ways to watch the rest of the folks come up. 

Wayne made it up without any drama.

Climbing - click to enlarge


I was to discover that Eric had found the spot that I had gotten stuck in and had also found the path that gravity dictated would end with a large tree reshaping his roof.

ClimbingClimbingClimbingNot ClimbingNot ClimbingNot ClimbingWinchingClimbingEricClimbingEricEricEricEricEric

Needless to say he had only one option: Go up the hill. So out came his winch bag, 50 feet of cable, a couple D-rings, and various other odd bits. We soon had him rigged to a tree straight ahead, and after Wayne pulled about 70 feet of cable up to the other section we had anchored, Eric slowly winched himself over the tricky spot and was able to continue up the hill under Rover power. Near the top, we found that his larger size precluded the routes we had taken to get around the log and so he got to do some multi-point turns on the still-steep hill.

After that, Steve opted to take the bypass that works a less steep portion of the hill and joins up at the top. A couple guys that I had seen before showed up around that time. They showed Steve the go-around and we all met at the top of the hill. Carl came up and acquitted himself well. I'm not sure but I think I heard the "SSSSHTT!" of a compressor just before his started up. :)

At the top, There was steep spot that I could not resist climbing. My attempt to crawl up it failed so I gave it a little more umph and went up.

Jim climbingJim climbing

Jim did basically the same thing, then Mark. 

Mark climbing

Carl climbed it too. 

Carl climbingCarl climbing

The Usual Suspects

Next Eric gave it the college try, but by that time, it was a little bit polished up and fairly slick. We cheered him on but it just wasn't in the cards.

EricEric climbingEric climbingEric climbing

 Wayne, Steve, and the fellow who had come along later met with similar fates. 


Carl went around, down, and did it again, just to help them feel better...


We stopped for a while to talk, then turned around and went back down to the pavement using the "go-around". 

Trail BreakTrail Break

At the pavement, a couple people reconnected. We all met back at Sheetz for a second round of airing up and reconnecting.

Waynes JeepMark's JeepAir StationPost TrailPost TrailTiresTires

I saw lots of smiles and I think I can say that everyone is glad to see signs of spring. Nobody broke anything major, although I did see some altered sheet metal. I think we left the place better than we found it, and am glad I had a chance to meet Mark, and to wheel with the rest of the bunch again!

Congratulations to Eric on his one-week old baby girl!

I headed for the Jeep Wash, and Carl showed up soon after.  Jeeps were washed and kids were corralled.

Jeep WashJeep WashJeep Wash with the kidsJeep WashJeep WashJeep Wash with TedJeep WashJeep WashJeep Wash





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