County Line (AKA Tuscarora or State Line) Trail 2/16/02

Off-Camber???

Roscoe's Photos | Jon's Photos | Jim's Photos

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GPS Waypoints

Items Used

Prologue

It had been some time since I had visited County Line Trail (AKA State Line or Tuscarora).  This was not entirely by chance.   The last time I went on this trail, I did some damage to my Jeep, got reminded that I was mortal, and had a tough time getting myself under control and back out to pavement.  I knew that if I wanted to run this trail, I was going to have to address these things or just forget going there again.

There is a lot of emphasis placed on equipment in this sport.  Big tires.  Big lifts.  Lockers.  Gears.   Winches.  Horsepower.  But when all is said and done, if you don't have your most important equipment in order (your head), the rest of it doesn't do very much for you.  When I first ran this trail, I didn't take it seriously enough.  I figured I was making it up this hill fine, the top was flat.  I could just ease on up, turn to follow the trail, and I would be cool.

Stuck

That didn't work out so well and I ended up sitting off-camber in a rock pile, hating life.  After a tug got my Jeep facing the trail, I drove out of that situation, unscathed but with a clue that this trail wanted to "take" me.  Later, I smuggly climbed a really off-camber rocky section with a severe break-over angle, and got over without even a whisper of contact on my side steps.  I was once again feeling pretty good about myself.  I let my attention lapse just long enough to find myself missing the slight course correction at the bottom of the climb and once again sitting in a nasty off-camber hole, with nothing under my passenger side, and a huge rock under my chassis. 

Stuck

When the Jeep was finally back on four wheels, I no longer had a step on the passenger side; my rocker panel was reshaped, and I had a deep gouge on my rear quarter.  Worse than that, I was in shock from the severity of the situation.

This trail takes no prisoners.  It looks easy.  Then you find that there is a space to travel that is barely wide enough to hold your vehicle.  The ground is like peat moss.  It does not compact and compress.  The rocks are all loose and do not provide a firm footing.  And best of all, just inches from the edges of the trail, is, in many cases, nothing but air.    The trail runs on a ridge that has steep drops on both sides.  The top of the ridge is a rock outcrop that runs for miles.  Unfortunately, it is too craggy to provide a good place for any kind of trail on the portion that is flat.  So the trail meanders between the top of the ridge and down the side, where necessary.  This results is some off-camber sections that are quite uncomfortable.  With my Jeep parked, in several spots, the angle ranges from a mild 15 degrees, to a spine-tingling 35 degrees.  While 35 degrees may not sound steep, it should be noted that most vehicles are prone to toppling over in off-camber situations that are just a few degrees beyond this point.  And with the wrong combination of circumstances, a vehicle can topple at this kind of angle.  It makes for a very intimidating combination.

With this floating around in my mind for nearly six months, I finally got up the nerve to go back out here.  In the time that passed since my first encounter, I had done several things to prepare myself.  First, I had spent more time running other off-camber trails in situations that were more forgiving.  This helped me to get a little more comfortable with the feeling, and to practice the dynamics of vehicle control.  Everything is different when gravity wants your Jeep to go sideways while you are trying to make it go forward, over rough terrain.

Next, I had to make some changes to the Jeep to better equip it for this type of trail.  Basically, I had to install more body protection.  It goes without saying that the plastic factory side-steps came off the day I got home from my last trip here.  I already had good skid plate protection underneath.  I added rocker panel protection to the sides.  This gave me two things:  a place to put my Hi-Lift Jack if worse came to worse and I had to get my Jeep out of a pile of rocks; and it put some solid steel over the damage I did before while protecting my body from further or more serious damage. 

I carry a full complement of navigation, communication, extrication, and information resources aboard the vehicle.  I use a rugged overhead rack to store some of these things.  The weight of all this combined with my skid plates and the rack itself led me to conclude that a much stiffer spring was required to restore some of the ride and handling of the Jeep.  While many people modify their suspension for height, I modified mine to accommodate the additional weight of my Jeep.  This had the side-effect of giving me some additional ground clearance, which is both a blessing and a curse.  But at any rate, the springs did solve my problem of supporting weight, and gave me some ground clearance.  I also started disconnecting my sway bar and airing down routinely which made a big difference in traction and ride quality off-road.

With the superficial things out of the way, I spent some time going over the mistakes I had made on my last attempt on this trail.  I resolved to pay this trail the respect it deserved.  And I decided that I would not hesitate to go slower than I had before, especially in the spots where I had run into trouble.

All these mental and practical adjustments still did not erase all the discomfort I had about running this trail, but I decided that I was not going to be more prepared than I was at the time that an opportunity came to try again. 

A small group of people that I often travel with were trying to decide where to go on a Saturday.  I bit the bullet and suggested "State Line".  The hook was sunk.  Four other people signed up, and the date was set.  We would run State Line on Saturday morning.  I set some constraints:  No rain for the week prior to our run - I could not control whether or not it would rain, but I would not set foot on the trail if it did; No large group - there were too many obstacles and too many things to go wrong to manage a large group effectively; and strict enforcement of the club guidelines for levels of equipment - None of the people signed up had winches but we could ill afford to be lacking in any of the fundamental areas.

Once I had a small group committed, I posted a message to invite other club members who might want to join us.  This led to some discussion about levels of gear, levels of readiness, and general debate.  No one else signed up, so the group was given a brief of what to expect. 

Roscoe

Roscoe's TJ

Roscoe had been on the trail a few weeks earlier and was well aware of what we would encounter.  He drives a nicely modified TJ with lift and over-sized tires.  His requirements took into consideration weight, performance, and demonstrates a simple but effective solution to improving performance of the TJ.

Jon

Jon's TJ

Jon had not been on the trail before but had read the story about my first trip.  His TJ is an interesting modification that is both functional and good looking.  I particularly like the MT/R's (32") combined with some nice flares, a suspension and body lift, and some good trail accessories.  During the course of the day it surfaced that perhaps his basement is more well equipped than his Jeep but I am sure that several wrenching sessions will change that for the better!

Jim

Jim's TJ

Jim's Jeep (another TJ) has some of the same design changes that mine has - the heavy duty rack, suspension modifications, rocker protection, and oversized tires - and tunes.  Jim has routinely been the one in the group of people that I run with who will try just about anything that isn't obviously dangerous, impossible, or downright stupid.

Carl

Carl's TJ

Carl's nearly stock TJ, with the factory GS/A's (225's) is actually not to be under-estimated.  Under the hood, he has installed a performance intake and filter.  He runs an AR Rock Ready Steering Box skid plate, Olympic rear bumper and Kilby gas tank skid.  He recently removed his steps (he didn't wait til he ruined them like I did...), and has been out many times with us, soaking it all in.

Paul

Paul's TJ

And of course my TJ.  I have made incremental changes to it since I bought it in October 2000.  I think I have finally, with my last modifications, taken it out of the "stocker" class.  I am however running 30-inch tires, so my diff's aren't much further off the ground than Carl's...

Muster

We had some back and forth about a meeting time but finally agreed to meet at 7:30 at Wendy's in Manassas.  The early start time gave us a cushion against unforeseen circumstances and some chance of getting off the trail in daylight.  It also meant getting up really early.  I did myself a favor and got my gear all stowed aboard the night before.  In the morning, I just got myself ready, brewed the coffee for the thermos, dressed and loaded my son Tomi and hit the road.

Along the way I grabbed gas and air, cash and breakfast.  The ride out to Manassas was a breeze.  I got out there a few minutes early so I could return the spring compressors that I had borrowed from Gary.   I made it over to the Wendy's a few minutes before 7:30.  Carl and Jon materialized minutes later and could be seen gasing up at the Texaco.  We exchanged good mornings over the radio and Carl branched off to run over to Wal*Mart to get a camera for the day.  Jim came rolling in soon after. 

Wendy'sWendy'sWendy'sWendy'sWendy'sWendy's

Wendy's

We grabbed some food at Wendy's, shot the breeze for a couple minutes and hit the road.  We drove out to Route 81 and down to Route 55, where we met Roscoe who was sitting next to the side of the road.   We picked him up using the CB and kept moving to the trail head.  Along the way, Roscoe indicated the choice gas station to get free air after the run.

Trail

Trail HeadTrail-head anticsTrail HeadTrail Head

Trail Head

We got to the trail promptly.  The waypoint appeared on my screen and I hung a left into the staging area.  Everyone got to work airing down and disconnecting.  Things went smoothly, and soon everyone was ready to go.  While this was going on, I remembered that Carl had not yet gotten his quick disconnects, and suggested he disconnect his factory sway bar connectors.  For the tame trails we've run, I never suggested it because it wasn't as critical.  But having been on this trail on a nearly stock vehicle myself, I knew every advantage one could get was worth claiming. 

Carl Disconnects for first time

Disconnecting

I handed him my Torx T55 and Roscoe gave him a ratchet and Carl was disconnected for the first time within a few minutes.  I think he was a little skeptical at first, perhaps even a little bewildered that we'd think this necessary.  But it was easy enough to do and surely would not make things any worse for him.

Drivers Meeting

With that business out of the way and everyone ready to roll, we had a drivers meeting.  I opened it up and invited Roscoe to jump in with any updates he had.  I confessed and explained my mistakes that led to trouble on the last run, cautioned folks not to make the mistakes I made, and asked that we stick together and stop before attempting anything even remotely resembling an obstacle.  I reminded people that they could "opt out" at any time and we'd find a way to get turned around and get out.  Which led to commenting about how few easy turn around spots were available.  At least two people had loaded my GPS coordinates into their GPS so a good number of people had a fairly precise indicator of the places I considered to be challenging.

View from State Line

Early View

With Roscoe, the most recent visitor to this trail leading, Carl followed him, Jim and Jon next, I took up the rear.  We drove in to the first hill and took our turns climbing to the top.  Everyone had CB's set to channel 4.  Jim, Roscoe and I had GPS.

Carl

Carl

From my position I could see Carl working his way up the hill and see his front wheels stuffing and drooping like a champ.  I realized right then that Carl had done the right thing by disconnecting.  I wish someone had shoved a T55 and a socket in my face the first time we ran this trail.   It made a difference for Carl on this first hill and again several times later.

JimJimJim
JimJimJimJim
JimJimJim

Jim

JonJonJon
JonJonJon

Jon

PaulPaulPaul
Paul

Paul

Everyone else took the hill in stride.   It was not very difficult but it was a nice warm up for things to come.

JonJim

Jon and Jim

The next little way was pretty straight forward.  Here and there we got hints of the off-camber situations that we'd be up against, but the best was yet to come.  It's funny the things you remember and the things you forget about a trail.  For the life of me, I cannot remember the somewhat tricky transition that must be navigated just a little way before you reach the power lines.  The trail bears to the right, gets a little off-camber, and you climb some rock and ruts up a bit of a hill.  From below it looks pretty intense, and although it can be handled fairly easily, a mistake would give you a taste of the precious little run-off space available for being careless.  I do not remember this section of the trail at all.  I have this silly, idealized recollection of the trail meandering up to the power lines.  That's not the way it is...

Once past this little challenge, I started to get a flashback of what this trail was really about.  Then the trees cleared and we were at the portion of the ridge where the power lines cross.  How do I describe this?  Picture an old-fashioned pup-tent.  One of those that is shaped like an equilateral triangle when viewed from the side.  The top of the ridge is like the top of the tent.  The top of the ridge holds the trail, and that, more or less, is the top of the ridge.

To either side, there is a sheer drop into the valley.  It is several hundred feet down, and you have at best 30 feet to work with, and at worst, 18.  This is no place for mistakes.  My mind went back to the first time I crossed this.  It seemed much flatter.  It seemed less steep.   I don't remember any ruts.  It seemed wider.  And most of all, I do not remember it being so off-camber.  My memory is cluttered.  This was real and it was no joke.  Again the challenge was not the trail, but the challenge of concentrating on staying on the road, maintaining traction, and getting up past this narrow, open spot.

Everyone did fine, and we all got past nicely.  But not before stopping to take pictures. 

Power LinesPower LinesPower LinesPower Lines
Power LinesCarl at the Power LinesCarl
Carl and Jim on Power LinesJim on Power LinesCarl and Jim on Power Lines
Power Lines AnticsPower LinesPower Lines
Power LinesPower Lines
Paul and Tomi on Power LinesJim on Power Lines
Power LinesPower Lines

Power Line

This was also an opportunity to see what remained of a turkey buzzard who must have decided that the power line was a good place to take some weight off and take a break.  Its fried remains were at the base of the support tower...  Foreshadowing...?

We drove along the progressively more rocky and off-camber trail until we finally reached the area that Jackie Cooper once described as the "bad hole".  This pretty much marked the beginning of non-stop off-camber trail and non-stop obstacles.

CarlCarl
CarlCarl

Carl

RoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoe

Roscoe

 

JimJimJimJim

Jim

HillJonJon
JonJonJon Fotos
Jon

Jon

PaulPaul
PaulPaulPaulPaul
PaulOff-Camber?

Paul

We all tip-toed our way past the "bad hole", up the hill to the first spot I got stuck last time, and beyond that to the top of that section.  Everyone is executing each obstacle with finesse, confidence, and without any slips.  This is going great.  No one is boasting though, because everyone has reached the same conclusion - this place is serious business.

From here it all starts to blend together.  Off-camber.  Tight spots between trees.  Off-camber going throught tight spots between trees.  Off-camber with rocks on the up-hill side, tipping us away from the hill...

Lev-O-Gage

Lev-O-Gage at 30 Degrees...

The funny thing about an Lev-O-Gage is that as much as it is useful in telling you what your tilt angle is, looking at it while you're moving is not a good idea - the trail is too tricky to lose concentration even for a fraction of a second.  The few times I actually could look at it, I am stopped.  It is nice to know that my Jeep, sitting still, will not tip over when tipped to 35 degrees.  I must tell you it is not a pleasant feeling.   It is very hard to feel good about driving along at about a 25 degree tilt when you then have to drive up on a rock that is on the up-hill side, knowing it is the only way to pass, and knowing it is going to tip you even more...  Fun...

We finally get to the second spot that ate my Jeep the last time I came here.  I knew it was just ahead by the rubble to the right, next to a portion of the trail with a severe break-over angle.   This was not good.  Since the last time, this little mogul had been torn up by spinning tires, erosion, and who knows what else.  It was now considerably more evil looking and uncomfortably off camber to boot.  Once you reach the top, you must go down the other side, in a similar state of disarray, and at the bottom, turn onto the side hill and drive over a diagonal slab of rock.  Roscoe took it all in stride.

Traffic at ObstacleRoscoe
Traffic at ObstacleRoscoe on Obstacle

Roscoe

It's no wonder I got stuck here the first time.  The one thing that I had going for me then was that this was still pretty smooth and the rock that was exposed was fairly stationary.  All this had changed and I started wondering if I was going to have new "stuck" pictures to compare to the ones from before.  This was pretty obvious to the people traveling with me because there were a couple of "smile, man" and "wow, your shoulders are all hunched up" comments.  Hell, they're hunched up now just writing about it.

So each in turn went up and over the damn rock and down the other side.  We spotted everyone through the whole section using a combination of hand signals and hand-held walkie talkies.  This proved successful as everyone including Carl's stock TJ made it through without a hitch.

CarlCarlCarl on ObstacleCarl
Carl
Carl
Carl
CarlCarlCarl

Carl

Jim and JonJimJim
JimJimJim
JimJim Off-Camber
JimJimJim

Jim

JonJonJon
JonJon

Jon

Then it was my turn.   Great...  The approach was bad enough with the holes, rocks and worst of all, the tilt.  I made the climb up the side without any problem and took pause at the top to compose myself, loosen my shoulders (shut up) and then eased down the other side.  

Paul

PaulPaulPaul
PaulPaulPaul

Paul

The shot below illustrates the value of skid plates.  In the shot can clearly be seen how little space there is left between them and the ground at this break-over angle.

The value of Skid Plates

Skid Plates at Work

At the bottom where I last got stuck, I was able to avoid repeating history and pull past the spot.  Great.  I have so far managed to stay out of trouble and if I keep it up, there should not be anything ahead that will reach out and "touch" me.  But lest I get too confident, I just kept up my guard.  Does this sound like fun?  It was.  Really it was.

Everyone stopped here and we took a minute to collect ourselves (I think they were waiting for me to chill out).  Then we moved on.  From here on out it was more off-camber stuff, with some great "get past the tree without hitting your windshield" kind of games.  This is one lesson I learned with my old Jeep.  Sometimes the secret is to get closer to the tree.  This has the effect of getting your Jeep less tilted and therefore further away from the tree near the roof etc.  It makes sense once you look at it.  We got past all this although at one point I did ask Carl to provide some ballast so my rack would not drag too heavily against a tree that insisted on getting up close and personal.

Along the way, we stopped to remove some fallen timber from the trail.  Roscoe attached a tow strap and bullied the dead wood to the side of the road.  Safety practices prevented injury and vehicle damage when the tree abruptly broke in two and went flying.

Roscoe and the LogRoscoe and the LogJimRoscoe and the Log

Tree Removal

The area was cleared before he started his pull.  The log sheared in two and shot across the trail.  Had anyone been in "the zone", there would have been trouble.

There was one spot where a piece of slate or shale had somehow managed to become like a large razor blade stuck into the ground perfectly upright and perfectly positioned so you had to either whack it (well you "Big Jeeps" could just go over it, no problem), or go more off-camber to pass it to the left.  I chose to go off-camber and sneak by it.  Without getting too far ahead of the story, let me just say that on the way back out I did not want to go off camber to avoid this thing, sogot out of my Jeep and quietly removed it from the ground.   It was a slab about 15 inches square.  If you liked this obstacle, please accept my apologies.  You can probably stick it back in the ground before you pass if you wish - the hole it left behind is still there.

Roscoe's ViewRoscoe's View

Some overhead spotting

Finally we reached the far end of the trail.  I cautioned Carl not to follow Roscoe into the rock field below the step that is used to winnow the big Jeeps from the rest.  I found my little parking place and took the coolers up to the cliff to eat lunch.

Trails-endTrails-endJon
ViewSmithsCarl, Casie, FriendSmiths and FriendView
TomiPaul amd Tomi

Lunchtime

Everyone else pretty much did the same.  I can't adequately describe the beauty of the day.  The sun was shining with hardly a cloud in the sky.  The air was clear and crisp but the temperature was hovering in the mid-sixties.  With the breeze coming off the valley it was a little cooler but nonetheless, this was one of the nicest days yet this year.

Paul

Nice Day

Once everyone had pretty much finished eating, Roscoe fired up his Jeep and made his run up the step.  He made a couple of attempts but was thwarted by the right side of the rock preventing him from getting his front end up.  He got himself more over to the left and was able to climb it without much drama.

RoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoe
RoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoe

Roscoe on the "Man Test"

The only other person interested in this challenge was Jon.  He worked his way down to the approach and drove up to the step.  He made a few attempts to get up the step.

JonJonJonJonJonJon

Jon's Attempt

Each time, he had to back off and each time he did, he worked himself a little bit closer to a tree.  Finally, he got so far over that he stuffed his fender flare into the tree.  It popped a couple of bolt covers off, and threatened to reshape his sheet metal. 

JonJon
JonFender Flare BeforeFender Flare After

Aftermath

So out came the tow straps.  After some wrangling of Hi-Lifts and straps, it was decided to strap the rear of Jon's Jeep, attach the other end to another Jeep (Carl).  While Jon drove uphill, Carl would back off or hold, pulling Jon away from the tree and getting him into a better line for whatever he decided to do next.  Sometimes it can be real handy to have a stock Jeep standing by for the big jobs!

Roscoe SpottingRoscoe SpottingJim SpottingCarl

Dragging Jon Away from the Tree

This worked perfectly upon the first attempt.   Jon found that his flares are more flexible than expected, and that his rear quarter managed to get by without damage.  Trail scores one carnage point.

JonJonJonJon

Jon's Exit

While this was being acted out, a lone hiker came up the trail from past where we travel.  He stopped and visited with us and was very pleasant.  He continued along the trail headed in the direction we'd take when we left.  But we did not see him again that day, and probably because he was traveling faster than us.

Time to roll!  We packed our stuff and reversed direction.  When we got back to the place where the going got tough, we all stopped.  We spotted people through the section, one by one.  Jim went over without any spotting because he had gotten there first and went on before he knew how lucky he'd been.  I was right behind him.  I found the diagonal rock to be quite challenging.  It was very hard to keep the front wheels from getting dragged to the left right to the big hole that I got stuck in last time.  I finally managed to make the front end do what I wanted and, fortunately,  the rear end was more cooperative.   I climbed up the hill to the crest, where I again took a break.  Going down the other side was OK at first but then got really off-camber.  I had watched Jim go down.  The angle he was at was chilling.  But he didn't flop on his side so chances were good that I'd be OK.  And logically since I had come in this way, it didn't make much sense that I'd have trouble going back out.  So I went down the other side, crossed throught the off-camber stuff, and got to where it was almost level.   Ah, blessed relief!

Next, Carl came through.  He had plenty of trouble with the diagonal rock.  His GS/A's didn't grab worth beans.  After each unsuccessful attempt, I was able to keep him from going down into my nemesis of a hole.   After several attempts to get up on it, he was able to do it.   Once he got over the rock, he went up and over the rest of the obstacle without further drama.  I snapped a picture of his tail just as it went over the top.

Roscoe

Roscoe does it blindfolded

Jon and Roscoe had no trouble with the rock or the climb, demonstrating how the off-road tires can be an advantage in some situations.  Roscoe just laughed at us as he ate the whole obstacle in one smooth, non-stop swipe.

Running the trail back the way we came, we had predictable moments at each obstacle that we encountered on the way in.  The descent past the "bad hole" was manageable and posed no special problem for anyone although I could see this spot (like many on this trail) being a problem in wet conditions.  The section that passes under the power lines was nothing to sneeze at.   It's one of those places where you want to keep moving lest the back of your Jeep decides it might like to take over leading you down the trail, or down the side of the ridge...  The shelf that guards the entrance to the power line section coming in, is far less intimidating on the way out.  Notwithstanding, it was still a good spot to be paying attention.

Paul

Paul coming down off the Power Line

Once we got down past the power lines, the rest of the trail seemed tame.  Along the way we had noticed a cross bar that was hung in the trees.  Affixed to one side was a small rack of antlers.  When we were headed out, we passed a lone hunter with an "over and under" double barrel who was standing by the side of the trail here.  A little further up the road we found a pick-up truck with a bumper sticker that said something like "People that are Vegetarians are really that way because they're piss-poor hunters".  OK...   A little further along we passed three young hikers and not long after that some older hikers who were probably with the young ones ahead of them.

Near the end of the trail was a clearing with a stump that had been outfitted with a conglomeration of debris that made it convenient to drive up on.  Wary that this could very well be the self-same stump that lead to someone toppling their Jeep, I first watched Jim ramp up it and pose for pictures.

JimJimJimJimJimJim

Jim

PaulPaulPaulPaulStumpStumpPaulPaulStump

Paul

JonJonJonStumpStump

Jon

RoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoeRoscoeStumpStumpStumpStump

Roscoe

Seeing that he managed without any damage, I imitated his pose, chomping on my steering box skid plate in the process.  More pictures.  Jon came next and did a great job climbing up onto it after he moved his Hi-Lift from the front bumper.

Next came Carl.  He started up the ramp and found his bumper too low to really get very far.  As he was backing down, Roscoe commented that it sounded like leaking air.  Sure enough, the left-front tire had taken a hit on the sidewall and was going flat.  Carl gave up on the stump and pulled over to change the tire.

Carl's FlatCarl's FlatCarl's FlatCarl's FlatCarl's Flat

Carl's Full-sized Spare

Chalk one up for the requirement for a full-sized, compatible spare.  The tire cover came off the spare to reveal a brand new - nubs and all - Wrangler GS/A.  Been there done that...  Trail gets two (2) carnage points.

Once Carl's tire was changed we finished up the trail, stopping well above the trail end to air up and reconnect at a nice level clearing. 

Airing UpAiring Up

The kids ran around going crazy, stealing hats and taunting adults.   I aired up my tires and then Carl's.  He reassembled his sway bar connectors.   When we finally hit the trail again, we discovered that we were a little further in that we thought.  Oh well.  Carl got a chance to try his Jeep on the same trail, now connected.  I think we'll see Carl with disconnects before long... :-)

We finally bumped and rocked our way to pavement, waited for the group to reform (well some of us will always be beyond reform but anyway...) and headed out for the "free air" gas station (the Amoco on Rt 55).  

Gas BreakGas BreakGas Break

When we got there we found it similar to McDorman's in that it had gas and a small convenience store with a good selection of items.  If you need gas and food on the way to State Line, this will definitely fit you out.  You could even get guns and ammo!  Once everyone got air, fuel or both, we agreed to have some pizza at the Pizza Den in Strasburg.  The pizza was good, the service was quick, and we were soon all heading our separate ways toward home.

Epilogue

I think it's safe to say the trip was a success.  Although Jon tweaked his flare and Carl got a flat, there was nothing like the kind of carnage that this trail can dish out.  Everyone had a chance to test the limits of their machines, and the limits that their own willingness to act imposes.   I'm happy with what my Jeep can do.  And I'm happy that I was able to overcome some of the mistakes I made last time I was here.  I still have a healthy respect for this trail, and even with the fun I had on this trip, will save this trail for those times when everything lines up on my side!  My advice, if you decide to travel this stretch - do not go alone, and do not make this your first trail ride in your new 4WD.  This is a place to go with people who can help you when you get in a pinch, and where you are prepared to use the lessons you've learned in places where stakes of errors are not so high!

Roscoe's Photos | Jon's Photos | Jim's Photos

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Items Used on this Trip

I have added this section to keep track of items carried along routinely are that are used on the trip, and any special significance to this use, if appropriate.  This may help to emphasis the importance (or lack thereof) of these things.  In most cases, the inclusion on this list suggests that the item was "essential" to the trip.  In some cases, this merely indicates a matter of greater convenience or personal preference; in other cases, the trip would have been difficult, impossible, or nightmarish without the item.  The trip report will certainly reflect the severity of need for each item.

There are two classes of items - those attached to the Jeep more or less permanently that did not come with the Jeep;  and those "readiness items" that I carry "just in case".   I will only mention those items that were actually used and made a difference.   I will also list items that I carry that may have been used by others (they too carry these items and may have used their own instance of this item - the point being that someone had this available).

In this way it might be possible over the course of several trips to determine what the incidence of use of these items, and from that to suggest what items are most important to add to a mod list first.

This list is not comprehensive - it is a summary of what was used on this trip.  I carry considerably more items in the event of more difficult circumstances.

Air Chuck & gauge Air Down/Up Fittings in container
Quick Disconnects Disconnect sway bar New
T55 Torx, 3/8 socket extension, 3/8 ratchet drive Disconnect Stock sway bar (for Carl) T55 Torx Head
Camera & film photos Pentax
GPS locating trail head and obstacles known in advance, coordinates shared with other members of group Dash Mount
CB, Weather Radio & Antenna road and trail communication CB
Engine Skid ramp to transfer case skid on one obstacle Engine Skid Plate
Steering Box Skid protection on the log "ramp" steering box skid plate
Gas tank skid protection at various rough spots gas tank skid plate
Springs clearance and load balancing - additional height put into use on this trip (see skid plate photos in story) Old Man EMU Springs
Spare Tire repair flat (Carl) Pirelli Scorpion
Hi-Lift Jack repair flat (Carl) Hi-Lift Jack
Tow Strap move Jon away from tree, move tree Tow Strap and D-Rings
Tow Hook (front) move Jon away from tree MoPar Front Tow Hooks
air tank, hose and compressor air up tires Viair 2.5 Gallon, 150lb Air Tank and hardware
rack carry tools, Hi-Lift, water, protect roof Garvin Wilderness Rack
WD-40 aid to removing stock sway bar connectors (Carl)  
leather gloves remove disconnects  
Jacket warm up from wind chill Paul amd Tomi
Sun glasses glare and bright sun protection
hat sun and wind protection
snacks and food eating
plastic bag collect trash  
pencil and paper record waypoint notes for later  
credit card, cash gas, dinner and snacks  
Hawaii Jeep role-playing toy for Tomas  

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State Line Trail (AKA Tuscarora Trail, AKA County Line Trail) Background

Originally constructed as a new route for the Appalachian Trail in response to development pressures in Northern Virginia, the 248-mile Tuscarora Trail became an extended side trail when the AT became a National Scenic Trail. The scenic trail designation made it possible for the Federal government to begin the process of acquiring land in a corridor around the trail thereby bringing permanent protection to the original AT route.

While the Tuscarora was never used as a new trail for the AT, it's still a beautiful extended hiking route, leaving the AT to cut west across the Shenandoah Valley into the Shenandoah Mountains, then heading north into Pennsylvania where it reconnects with the Appalachian Trail. Until the mid-1990's, the south half of the trail from Shenandoah National Park to Hancock, Maryland was called "The Big Blue Trail" and was maintained by PATC. The north half was called "The Tuscarora" maintained by the Keystone Trails Association. In the early 90's, due to lack of attention, the Tuscarora section was rapidly disappearing back into the mountains. Thanks to the efforts of two District Trails Managers, PATC resurrected the trail and took over responsibility. At the urging of Elizabeth Johnston, PATC's then-Pennsylvania Chapter President, PATC then voted to rename the entire route "The Tuscarora". It now stands as a premiere hiking route with a singular name.

Not as developed (there are only a few shelters along the route), not as public, not as long, and not as well-known at the Appalachian Trail, the Tuscarora offers something perhaps the AT doesn't - a better sense of wilderness and solitude. The Trail's connection point to the AT at its north and south terminus provides a hiking opportunity known as the "Tusca-lachian Loop". PATC is currently considering a patch to award to those who complete this enormous hiking circuit.

From Potomac Appalachian Trail Club Store write up of trail guides and maps

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