Carlisle All Truck Nationals & South Mountain/Green Ridge
near Marsh Creek Hollow 

Samson - Click to EnlargeJoe - Click to Enlarge


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

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!



After almost two years of running trails in Virginia, I was ready to try something different.  I figured there had to be some legal wheeling in Pennsylvania so I started looking around on the web.  I ran across a site that mentioned some trails in Michaux State Forest.  I checked the official web site and found that there are trails listed for ATV, Snowmobile and 4x4's.  A couple days later, the owner of the first web site I found posted a message on one of the boards asking for a guide to GWNF.  I wrote offering to help, and after some discussion, was invited to the Carlisle All Truck Nationals.  The possibility of some trail riding was discussed so I made plans to take Teddy and Tomi up to Carlisle.


I first thought I might camp on Friday night at Carlisle but the risk of not finding a site, or of being kept awake all night by the other people led me to choose instead to drive up early on Saturday morning.  I got the kids up and we left home at about 6:00 am.  We drove up to Frederick on Route 270 and then followed Routes 15, 94 and 34 into Carlisle.  Along the way, we got gas and breakfast.  Just outside of Carlisle, we ducked in to a car wash and rinsed off a light coat of road dust and accumulation from the last week of commuting.  I can't go to Carlisle with a dirty Jeep!

Window Sticker

Many years of going to Carlisle Import Car events rewarded me with knowledge of the area and the best way in to the gates and out onto the field.  As we approached the gate, I fell in line behind Steve.  What a funny coincidence.  But since we needed to get our pass, we lost him when we stopped at the office.  We registered for the "Fun Field" where the Tacoma Territory Offroad Association (TTORA) had a tent, and where I would meet Steve and Jandy.  Once we got our "goodie bag", we drove out to the Fun Field area and soon found the group up on the side of the hill away from the Grandstand.  It took me a while to explain that the "goodies" were not edible...  I parked my little Jeep between the "big" Jeeps.  Jandy was there as we arrived and we introduced ourselves. 

Carlisle All Truck Nationals

Truck Wheel and BoysWrong TurnTacoma Territory Offroad Association TentTacoma Territory Offroad Association Tent

We checked out the group tent, met a few people and then headed down to the field to check out the trucks.  The kids went nuts.  It was all I could do to keep them out of the lanes where there was lots of traffic.  At times, the drivers were so wrapped up in themselves that they didn't appear to even notice that people were walking about and little kids were in the way...  Teddy became very frustrated because I insisted on holding his hand.  On at least two occasions, I was rewarded by preventing him from being run down.  Of course he did not appreciate this so we had some tension.  By the time we got to the grandstand he was in full rebellion and made it impossible for me to check out the vendors inside.  It was torture - Teddy trying to break loose and table after table of die cast and models that I could not check out because Teddy was ready to run away and get run over or lost in the crowd.  Tomi, to his great credit was loyal and patient throughout this, staying right by my side and totally obeying my request that he stay with me.  I love my boys but I was tempted to let Teddy get a taste of being "lost"...

I gave up trying to shop, we visited the rest room, then I took the kids around to the food concession for an early lunch.  I was able to get them to sit still for a few minutes while they ate, which gave me a break from my iron grip.  I don't like to be so protective but the large and crushing crowd and the constant risk of vehicles made it impossible for me to relax and let them run loose. 

1938 Willys Pick-up

I don't regret my decision but it made me wish I had brought some sort of "ride" to contain them inside.  When we finished eating, we went around the show field.  The slammed tuner pick-ups were abundant and ran the full range of "trash" to "crass with class".  The kids got a big kick out of some of the wild paint jobs and crazy customizations.  I liked the '38 Willys Pickup...

Virginia GiantVirginia Giant

Then they saw the Monster Trucks.  The Virginia Giant was making loops around the field with a load of passengers in the back.  I knew what would come next...  We walked around to where the loading platform was located and paid our $5 each.  The kids collected the souvenir photos and trading card, and we climbed up for the next ride.  Teddy could barely be held back. 

Virginia GiantVirginia Giant and TedVirginia Giant and TomiVirginia Giant

Tomi was a little reluctant but was happy to come up the steps and sit with me, right behind the cab.  The driver soon climbed up and started up the truck. 

Virginia GiantVirginia GiantVirginia Giant

He took us on a ride around the field and over the crushed cars a few times.  We never "got air" but the kids, and especially Teddy, loved it.  When the ride was over, he was ready to go again.

We walked back to the TTORA tent and got something to drink and eat.  The trail ride was in the planning stages.  We soon learned that we'd go out around 2:30pm.  So I took the kids and went back down to the grandstand. 


We got there just in time to see the first Monster Truck show of the day.  Teddy and Tomi sat in total awe as the trucks went through their thundering, roaring paces. 


They had their ears covered and their mouths hanging open.  The show was broken up by "Little Bull", a clown driving a small "Big Foot", delivering snappy rejoinders aimed mainly at the adults in the audience.


After the Monster Truck show, we left the stands and visited with Pooh and Tigger.  The kids had fun with them and I managed to snap a couple pictures.  We made another bathroom stop and then took a quick look at the Monster Trucks.  We took a walk behind the grandstand and found a t-shirt shop that had little cotton shirt/pant outfits.  The kids picked out designs and had them made up.  Of course they immediately wanted to change into them.  So we got something to eat and changed into the new clothes.  This kept us busy right up until about 2:30.


It took a few minutes to get the group together, but by 3:00pm a small group had assembled to go out for a ride.  Jandy, Joe and I were driving Jeeps.  There were three Tacomas, making a nice small group of six.  We drove out to Route 81 and then south to Route 30.  From there we headed east towards Gettysburg.  We turned onto the trail a few miles outside of town, and soon stopped to air down and disconnect.

The trail wound its way through the woods.  There were several algae-covered mud pools that had bypasses.  Even the bypasses were muddy but clearly more passable.  Eventually, the trail crosses a pipeline clear-cut.  Along the way, one of the Tacoma drivers removed his passenger-side mirror on a dead tree sticking out onto the trail.  


I heard a big "BONK!" and then he stopped to retrieve the pieces.  It was a total loss and he got some denting on his door as well.

South Mt. PipelineSouth Mt. Pipeline
South Mt. Pipeline

First HillFirst Hill
First HillFirst HillFirst Hill from below

First Hill - Click to Enlarge

We turned west onto the pipeline, and immediately confronted a hill covered with small, loose boulders.  Each driver took their turn climbing the hill.  I made it about halfway up and got a little bogged down.  So I backed off a couple feet and was able to finish the climb without incident.

South Mt. PipelineSouth Mt. Pipeline

Second HillSecond Hill

Second Hill - Click to Enlarge

The trail continues straight for a ways and then a long, steep hill looms ahead.  It is about the same as the unexplored hill we found in Keyser although not quite as long.  It does not have any boulders and the surface is solid dirt with just a few pebbles here and there.  But is is steep and long...  I watched the people ahead of me climb it slowly with no wheel slip and continuous forward motion.  One driver had left his Tacoma at the top of the first hill and ridden in with Joe.  I don't know why he did that but this hill was just a bit intimidating.  Teddy asked me if we were going up.  "Yes" I told him and we took our turn.  It was so steep that the front suspension was pretty light.  I was able to climb without losing grip but this hill would be impossible if it was wet.  Near the top, my front end was so light that it was sort of rattling.  The pictures do not do this hill justice.  Note the car in the distance at the bottom of the hill in the photo above, for perspective...

South Mt. PipelineSouth Mt. Pipeline

Right down the other side is a gradual descent that goes along for some distance through a continuous rock field.  It is about 15 degrees off camber and a little narrow but not too scary.  

Down Tree

Not far ahead, Joe stops and removes a large dead tree with his winch, then we continue down.  It is rough going - we are solidly into terrain that cannot be accessed with 2WD vehicles.  DUH... 

South Mt. PipelineSouth Mt. Pipeline

Got Rocks?

Just as Jandy is telling us that some may want to take the right side of the trail since the line they are taking is a little harder, they hang up on a rock.  It turned out that they were pretty close to munching their u-joint at the rear pinion on one of the larger rocks.  They stopped and got themselves free using a Hi-Lift.

Since this was close to the end of the trail, everyone turned around to head back.  Since I was last in line, I ended up leading the way out for a bit.  This was the best part of the trail for me because it was very rocky and climbing was interesting.  At one point I got myself into some loose rocks and sort of churned my way up the hill, making slow deliberate progress but sort of stirring the rocks as I went.  The two hills we had come up were different going back. 

South Mt. Pipeline

The long one was very deserving of respect.  I just crawled down, ready to give it some gas if the rear started to get ahead, but traction was good and we just went straight down.  The other rocky hill was pretty easy but required careful tire placement to avoid some of the low spots.


I pulled aside and Joe led the rest of the way on the other side of the road we came in on, driving the rest of the pipeline out to a beautiful spot in some apple orchards where we aired up and reconnected. 

View from Trails endView from Trails endView from Trails endView from Trails end

Trails EndTrails EndTrails End

All day it was very hot and humid.  I kept the kids drinking all day.  Tomi rewarded me with 5 saturated pull-ups, and Ted kept himself busy finding places to pee.  I had my fair share of voiding as well.  Even with the several gallons we drank, Teddy got bad cramps in his legs, partly from the sitting, partly from the heat-to-cool of the Jeep with A/C, and maybe even because of growth.  He seems to be growing pretty fast right now and I am sure that contributed.  It was nice to have the A/C.  I would like to put the top down but on days like this one, it is just too uncomfortable to be sitting in the sun in that heat.  The kids would not have done quite so well exposed to the sun all day.


We aired up and connected, talked a little about various things, and then headed out to Route 30.  Joe stopped to pick a rock out of his brakes, and we continued on our way in an attempt to get home as early as possible.  I took Route 30 back to Route 81, then down to Route 70 and East again to Frederick and Route 270.  I really should have turned East when we got off the trail and gone to Gettysburg about 5 miles over - it would have cut nearly 45 minutes of the trip, but I wasn't paying attention to how far East we had gone.  Next time...

Jeep - AfterJeep - AfterJeep - After

We finally got home, with everyone quite tired.  I detected a vibration that had me concerned until I really thought about it.  I had not hit anything hard, and there were no leaking fluids or rattling parts.  It had to be something simple like a chunk of mud or a missing tire weight.  It turned out to be a missing weight.  When I checked over the Jeep I spotted the outline where it had been.  I was able to match it to another weight of the same size and install a new one that the tire shop down the road gave me for free. 

Wheel Weight

In the process of diagnosing the problem I inspected the chassis and found only a few superficial scratches and a little munching where a rock nicked my front differential cover.  The engine skid plate and control arm skid plates really did their job on this trip.

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South Mountain/Green Ridge, PA
 near Marsh Creek Hollow GPS Data

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