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Snow Crawling: Rausch Creek Off Road Park

Posted in Events on March 1, 2011
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What better way to spend the first weekend of the new year than by going wheeling?

Zack Vaughn was our trail leader for the day in his '93 Wrangler. With its 108-inch wheelbase, it made all of the climbs seem easy. You may have noticed that this thing looks nothing like a YJ, and you'd be right. The only parts Zack left stock were the frame, tub, and steering column. We were actually surprised that the 2.5 squirrels under the hood had enough oomph to spin the NP435. From there, the 5:1 Atlas II splits power to the front Dana 60 and rear 14-bolt. Somehow the front axle manages to keep its 3.55 gears and a Lock-Right together while the rear runs mismatched 3.73s and welded spider gears. A custom four-link rear suspension and three-link front make room for the 40-inch Maxxis Trepador competition tires on 17-inch KMC Enduro beadlocks.

That's what we thought when we were booked a trip back east. We spoke with the guys at Rausch Creek Off Road Park and told them we were going to be in town. We weren't even sure they'd be open January 3-4, 2010, but they assured us they would be, and that like most weekends, there would be people out there wheeling.

Two months later we left our 70-degree Southern California corporate offices, jumped on a plane, and arrived in what was one of the worst sustained cold spells the Northeast had seen in years. In fact, the day we went wheeling it was 20 degrees and there was a 15 mile-per-hour wind; it had snowed the day before and by noon it was snowing again, which messed up our camera flash.

Still, any day wheeling is better than real work, and we had a blast wheeling Rausch as we'd never seen it before. Usually we are there in the summer, and all of the trails have a pretty predictable level of difficulty depending on how recently it has rained. The rule of thumb is that recent rain bumps the trail up one difficulty level. If that's true, then 20 degrees and snow bumps the trails up at least two difficulty levels. Most of the guys who live back east take the winter as an upgrade or rebuild opportunity to make sure their Jeeps are ready to go for the next wheeling season (spring), so many guys who live there don't get to see the park like this either.

Brian Moyer is the proud owner of this '87 Wrangler with a 360ci V-8 under the hood. The engine was swiped out of a '74 Grand Wagoneer and slung between the framerails still bolted to the TH400. A Dana 300 sends power out to the front and rear Dana 44s snatched from the same Wagoneer. A Detroit Locker in the rear axle and a Lock-Right in the front spin the 35-inch Goodyear MT/Rs wrapped around A to Z Fabrication beadlock rims with help of 4.56 gears. A 4 1/2-inch Rubicon Express suspension combined with a 1-inch Daystar poly body spacer kit provide plenty of clearance.

As promised, we found people out there ready and willing to get snowy. So, follow along as we brave the elements with a small band of like-minded loonies and take a glimpse into a Rausch Creek Off Road Park not many see.

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