I arrived Thursday morning with my youngest, Lily, in tow. We met in the lot of RC to do a day of harder black trails that Andy and I have been wanting to do for some time. We had a group of five trucks, Andy @jamarquardt22 in his 4Runner, Bob @76FJ40 from CLCC in his 40 , Mark @woytovich , Jon @jonheld from Gotham, and myself. Weather was nice, but within minutes we had a downpour for about 15 minutes. Bob and Andy scrambled to keep dry, while I pressed a little button on my armrest and rolled the window up.
It's the little things...
I forget what trail we ended up on, maybe 20? It was slow going, but a lot of fun. Some winching and minor carnage, mostly me. We stopped for lunch and carried on, maybe to a different black trail. I was tail gunner, and when I am, I don't pay attention, I just enjoy the view.
We came to a pretty tricky section that took some time to get through. It was my turn, and I ended up getting stuck at the entrance. It looked simple enough, but somehow I ended up with my rear diff buried between a few large rocks. I could not go in either direction.
And then, after trying a very enthusiastic bump forward, the truck said "eff you, Greg", and died. I tried to start it it, but it only cranked, no start.
Hmmm, I had this exact issue two previous times, both times the O2 sensor harness was shorted out and blew the EFI fuse.
First thing I checked was the EFI fuse. Yup, blown. Only problem was, I relocated my O2 sensors to the Exhaust manifold to eliminate this issue.
Put a new fuse in it, and it fired right up...briefly, and died. Blew the fuse again. Jon broke out his meter, did some troubleshooting (thankfully), and determined it was probably something to do with the fuel pump, or wiring. The gas tank was also firmly planted on a large rock, so we tried to winch the truck out, but the winch said HA-HA! So, we jacked up the rear axle (breaking a stock Toyota bottle jack in the process), stacked some rocks, and winched it out. luckily, after the recovery, the truck fired right up.
Gary @shmukster and I limped the truck back to to the lot. The weather forecast showed heavy rain coming in shortly, and lasting until mid evening. My daughter and I decided to head home for the night, instead of setting up camp, and sleeping, in the rain.
It turned out that you guys got off easy.
We got swamped in Chester County PA. The creek across the street is normally about a foot deep. In this video, it's about ten feet deep, and 100 feet wide. It ended up being the highest I've seen it in the 16 years we've lived here. It was insane!
Drove up and back from home every day Weds - Sat. Not sure that was the best decision, but it worked fine this year. I took almost no pics, but here are the few I have.
Weds was just a feel out ride with a few trucks on some greens and blues. Nothing too crazy, just a little slower than usual as some rigs were carrying tents and awnings that made clearance tight from time to time. It was stupid hot Weds too.
Thurs I got out on the NE property with capable rigs that were mostly Gotham members and had Vince as my co-pilot. Most in the group didn't want to do any blues and did a lot of riding on the roads between green trails. Everything was slick after the rain anyway and it was a slow go.
We stopped for lunch just across from Blue trail 39 and 4 of us decided to try it real quick while the others finished lunch. Not a big deal except the rain made the steep winding right climb out from near the creek more interesting. The GCLC Pres tried it first in his new 4Runner and just caught the front skid at the last foot of the climb twice. He opted to gamble on exiting through an unknown depth mud hole and made it through that just fine and then lost the plastic rear bumper cover on the steep exit to get over the creek.
^^^ We were the other 3 trucks to try the trail and all of us had the clearance and rear lockers to make it out just fine. The sketchiest part was rolling trough the water logged field at the top of the trail. It was like a mud bog with ruts filled with water.
The main group bailed at 2pm and the three of us above went back out for another couple of hours in the main park and hit as many blues as we could before the rain started again.
Friday a small group of us (@jamarquardt22, @surfishjoe with JJ and his friend Brian and a few other guys) headed up to AOAA and Andy M was the leader as usual. We hit trails 3, 4, and 7 for sure and some others I haven't done before that had a bunch of tight switchbacks I needed to 3-point turn and spots between trees tight enough that I had to fold the mirrors in.
I forget what trail we ended on where @Tikicruiser had a rear brake lock up for a bit, but the trail was very cool with an incline, hop rocks between 2 tight trees, small incline into a tight dip while making a right turn , another small incline into a very steep decline then a herd left over some rocks into a flat spot (where we looked at the Taco) then through a really tight off camber section between some trees to a steep short incline, three point tun at the top and then out the other side. Wish I had taken pics, but it was very muddy to keep trying to stop and go back to get shots. A great day on the trails with a bit of everything.
Couple a random shots of Brian and Joe.
Saturday back at Rausch and many more people showed up, but seemed almost all wanted to do greens. @shmukster rode with me in a group to do blues with a some guys from VA he knows well, Larry from GA in his white 80 who I wheeled with on Weds and Thurs and @VBRoamer with his freshly painted LX450 that looked like a mall cruiser because it was so pretty.
I got a new experience leading with Gary navigating and lots of trucks on the trails. I have zero idea what trails we hit, I'm sure Gary can chime in on that. We did get to finish on Topless for Ta-Tas and that was a great trail. It was my first time doing that trail and it had a little bit of everything with rocks, water and some tight trees. I got to watch a skilled driver take a stock FJ40 on 33" tires up the black horseshoe shaped trail near the end of Ta-Tas in one fluid pass, very impressive.
Then the day ended with our group watching some Jeep guys pulling a stockish Taco off one of the obstacles in the rock park near the entrance. The first Jeep that tried to pull with a strap almost lost its rear axle completely ... good times.
Just getting around to capturing my thoughts about what was another outstanding coal mine event. Been trying to remember everyone I wheeled with but please forgive my old memory if I forget anyone. Lots of trucks there- I believe there were only five or six no-shows. And Saturday with so many jeeps in the staging area it was a bit crowded but ended up not being a problem.
Wednesday say a dozen trucks or so in the Rausch staging area, three times the number that was there on Wednesday of last year. I led a small group doing blues, we were limited in what we did a bit by Ben Crockett's tall FJ75 with a roof top tent. Yes the editor of Toyota 4WD owners magazine was with us. Karol Jurgelewiecz from CT, Tom Humphries from Jersey, and our own Chris in the camo 80 rounded out the group. We had a good day, did almost all of trail 12, all of 10, did a bit of the dipsy-dos down at the far end of the park, and then went up 15 on our way out. Went very well, and we had inserted Ben in behind me so he could get pictures of the guys behind him, hopefully we're gonna see some pictures of club guys in the magazine soon.
Thursday I jumped in with Crusha and his daughter Lily in Greg's 80. Trail leader was Andy Marquardt. We also had Bob Bascom from VA in his very capable 40, and Gotham City old timers Jon Held in his Lexus 80 series and Mark Woytovich in his very capable FJ60. It rained on us a bit as we headed toward the bottom of the park but it wasn't too bad, then stopped. I wasn't sure what trails Andy had in mind but he headed us right up into trail 20 (with Pitman rock right in the beginning). Ended up being a very difficult trail what with all the big rocks and limited traction. There were weeds and grass proliferating everywhere between the rocks, the park was greener than I ever remember it. We got about 75% through the trail and then Greg's truck shut off and wouldn't start. It had blown the EFI circuit fuse. He was stuck hard on a large rock and couldn't even winch himself off. And the truck in front of him was far enough ahead that we couldn't tug him. So, we ended up jacking one side of the rear of his truck with a hi lift jack, and used a bottle jack to lift the axle n the other side. With the truck lifted he was able to winch off the rock. After that was accomplished the truck started up but wouldn't idle, but with careful attention Greg was able to drive it over a bypass onto trail 12 then out of the park. By the time we got to the staging area it was running on its own and Greg was able to drive home. We figured the wiring harness going back to the fuel tank got damaged when he landed on the rock on which he was stuck. Kudos for Jon Held for the diagnosis and troubleshooting he really knows his way around the 80 series. With the threat of rain imminent we headed back to the staging area and got out of there before the rain started again.
Friday a bunch of guys went up to AOAA. There were three groups that went out on the trails, I was riding with Chris Blowers in his very capable 40 and the only other truck with us was Mike Stump in his equally competent 40. So what I expected to be a much bigger group to do tough blacks had only two trucks. Turned out to be quite the blessing! We went straight out the main road to the entrance to the bottom of Lower Anthracite. Getting up there with two trucks took some time, the very first obstacle (big rocks and a tree) was the toughest. While backing down off the big rock Mike had a log about 8" in diameter and ten feet long get split end-wise and jammed on his tie rod. Kept him from being able to move the steering wheel! We had to cut the damn log off to free him up. We finished LA then jumped right into Upper Anthracite and of course going upstream proved to be quite the challenge. But we made it through and stopped for some lunch and some RC car time.
From there we drove down and headed up BeeLine. BeeLine is a serious trail, nice climb up to the ridge and some nice challenges up near the top. The descent on the other side is tricky- very steep with lots of large loose flat rocks that want to slide you down the hill. We made it down without incident and headed over to Muddy Shackle. Wanted to see if either of these tough forties could get over the last obstacle on MS without winching- the last two times we were there no one was able to drive through and out of it. Chris gave it the old college try- several times- and on more than one try we were quite a bit up in the air. No luck though and out came the tree strap for extrication. Then Stump tried it and almost flopped his 40 over into the slop. He was able to back up and make a second attempt- which was successful! He rode the high side to the left and made it over although he was driving through a bit of vegetation on what was not part of the original trail!!! That area will certainly continue to change. That was enough for the day and we headed back to the staging area.
The other groups got back to the SA about the same time and a bunch of us decided to take the back roads home to avoid driving on I-81. That route takes you over four mountains! I was leading in my Lexus, and we had Tom H's 80, Karl's 40, Mario's 40 driven by his brother Tom, and Mario in his white 60, followed by a pickup truck. Quite the land cruiser train!
Saturday we hooked up for some blues. I jumped in with Chris (cass007) and he was the trail leader. With us were Andy Zook and Vince in Vince's Lexus, Larry Downey and daughter in their 80, Rob Matzell in his stock 40, and Rob's friend in a stretched and very wide and well built red 40- which was going through a shake down weekend after just rolling out of the garage. Had a great day, did some of the trails in the west property that we'd done earlier in the week, finished up on the bottom then headed up the power line to the top. From there we did the little hill climb up to trail E then went over and did Tatas in its entirety. Worked out well and the red 40 and Rob's 40 were able to get some black time in on the black loop right at the end of Tatas. That was it for the day and for the event.
Some observations...…...….there is a s***load of growth everywhere you looked. Some of the trails looked to hardly have been used recently and people who wheeled across the road on the northeast property really commented about that. Other than a little bit of rain on Thursday the weather was thankfully very cooperative. The raffle was outstanding even though for a change I didn't win a thing. The food I thought was very good especially the chicken. I didn't get up to the area where the Keystone and CCLC guys were congregated too much but I'm sure it was the usual great time. Burl was great doing his thing when he replaced the birf in the front of Bruce's 80. Bruce was more than slightly wigged out about breaking his truck! When I go up to where the repair was being made Andy Z and Burl were elbow deep into the repair and even improvises a (Dremel tool) to de-burr the counterbore where the axle seal nestles.
Good times good people and another good event. I've already reserved my cabin for next years event which will be July 8-11.
JJ and I had an awesome time both on the trails and at the campground. Camp life was perfect with some kid friendly neighbors and friends. Truck made it through the event unscathed though the little trail honcho didn’t fare as well. Lesson learned stay out of the mud! Wheeled with some cool rigs and met lots of new people everyone was friendly and helpful on the trails. Special thanks to Crusha, Pacer, and El Presidente Andy for the club campsights. Here are some pics