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!
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
Carlisle All Truck
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
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.
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...
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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...
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.
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...
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.
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
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
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...
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
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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