2019 TireRack.com Overland Adventure East: Part 2
Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure to Overland Expo East
After journeying a collective 13,000 miles and arriving at Rausch Creek Off-Road Park, the handpicked group of 20 overlanders spent the day on a guided trail ride sampling the many terrain types offered by the Appalachian foothills. When they were done with the water crossings, muddy ruts, and rocks, the group returned air pressure to their tires and convoyed to Carlisle Fairgrounds where they retired to their respective tents, trunks, and trailers for the first night of rest. If you're just joining us, the story continues, beginning with Morning Two of the 2019 TireRack.com Overland Adventure East.
Adventure in the East
From the stacks of applications submitted through fourwheeler.com, we selected 20 overland-equipped trucks, Jeeps, and SUVs, each equipped with true four-wheel drive, bearing unique sleeping accommodations, and hailing from all corners of North America to join us on our expedition. We crafted an adventure you likely would not experience by simply heading off into the backcountry on your own. Our journey not only included guided tours of Rausch Creek Off-Road Park and Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure, but also extended through scenic backroads covering the expansive Appalachian foothills of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia. The journey concluded at the largest-ever Overland Expo East with a celebration banquet, raffle, and VIP camping on-site at the Expo.
And it got better. At the helm of the expedition was Rich LaRusso, an Off-Road Driving & Recovery Trainer certified by the International 4-Wheel Drive Trainers' Association who brought with him 10 years of off-road experience, loads of enthusiasm, and Tread Lightly! training. Providing experienced support for our adventure was a five-vehicle crew from Overland Experts, a world-renowned group of off-road instructors known for training the military, off-road enthusiasts, and everyone in between. After long trail days came big appetites, so we made sure to appeal to each overlander's palate each night with a smokin'-hot meal and dessert before everyone retired to the campfire circle.
As Overland Adventure East drew nearer, and the overlanders were preparing for adventure, some chose to take advantage of offers from Mamba Offroad Alloys, which outfitted a handful of participants with wheels for their rigs and trailers. Dee Zee Manufacturing, Dick Cepek Tires & Wheels, Hazard 4, and TireRack.com all stocked the giveaway table at Overland Adventure East's celebratory banquet with everything from gift certificates to backpacks of swag. In addition to sponsoring the adventure, the folks from Dee Zee came along for the ride, bringing their own overland-equipped JL Wrangler, decked out with the company's accessories.
When we last left the crew of Overland Adventure East, they had bedded down in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, after an exciting day exploring Rausch Creek Off-Road Park. The second morning found some participants making breakfast while others fine-tuned their overland rigs for a long day of travel. Ken Brubaker, editor of Four Wheeler, briefed the group on the day's plan: explore more than 150 miles of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia, and eventually arrive at a gem of the Appalachian backcountry, Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure.
As it often goes with overland travel, various skill sets were tested throughout the day. Communication via each participant's Rugged Radio was imperative as the convoy explored twisted dirt roads, snaked through stop-and-go small towns, and disappeared back into the Appalachians time and time again. Even in the face of mechanical problems, fellow participants, as well as the team from Overland Experts, were at the ready to make sure everyone got the help and parts needed to continue the day on the trail, no matter how long it took.
While the convoy navigated through the backroads, Overland Adventure East staff was working dutifully at Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure to make sure a hearty meal was ready upon their arrival. The call was heard over the Rugged Radios shortly after 2100 hours "right turn at Twin Mountain. I repeat, right at Twin Mountain!" Staff watched as the brightly lit adventure rigs filed into the holler, finally coming to a rest after more than 12 hours of travel.
The participants followed their noses into the dining tent where an array of sizzlin' grub and chilled drinks was laid out. Music played, glasses clinked together, and before long the tent was empty as the now-satiated overlanders made their respective camps across the hillside meadow. Some chose to fold out their portable aboveground fire pits and extend the party into the early morning, telling stories and sharing laughs as stars blinked from the heavens.
Climbing Out of Twin Mountain
For those rising before the sun at Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure, the rolling hills were cloaked in a veil of fog. From atop the hilly campground, puffs of steam were seen wisping from each camp as coffee pots and breakfast skillets worked hard to satisfy the appetites of the hungry adventurers. Having arrived after dark, we watched as drowsy eyes surveyed the surroundings that now basked in sunlight. Campers who shuffled to the top of the dewy hillside could see for miles into the distance where fog settled down and filled the valleys like silky waters in a reservoir. Following the drivers meeting, the group took a guided lap through Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure with the park's manager, John Bradshaw, leading the way and narrating the ride with factoids and quips about the surroundings. The backwoods twists and turns lasted almost to midday, but to our dismay, gravel turned back to concrete and we paused once more to return air to the tires, top off the fuel tanks, and complete the final miles on our journey to the Expo.
Entering Expo East
With the miles between us and Overland Expo East dwindling, we savored every turn of the road and crackle of the Rugged Radios before we crossed into Arrington, Virginia, and eventually through the gates of Infinity Downs, the location of Overland Expo East, and the final destination of our journey. Each Overland Adventure East participant was given access to Overland Expo East along with a VIP camp spot in the exclusive Four Wheeler Adventure Camp, with their rig poised prominently for all to see.
We didn't stop there, because before turning everyone loose to explore the Expo, we corralled the group one last time at the Oak Ridge Estate, on the grounds of Infinity Downs. Dinner was served in an upscale ambiance as the weary adventurers shook a light coating of dust off the memories of the past few days. Following the evening meal, Ken Brubaker, editor of Four Wheeler magazine, stood before the smiling faces and called participants' names, doling out prizes from the event's sponsors. TireRack.com, Dick Cepek, Dee Zee Manufacturing, Hazard 4, and Mamba Offroad Alloys stacked the table with prizes that one-by-one found their way into the hands of overjoyed overlanders. Whether it was a box of prizes, a new friend, or a sliding drawer system chock-full of stories, everyone left the banquet richer than they came—and that was the core of Overland Adventure East.
Following the banquet, participants and sponsors alike dove into Overland Expo East and were immersed in the festivities where a record-breaking 12,500 attendees, 1,000 adventure vehicles, 188 exhibitors, and 55 media outlets gathered at Infinity Downs. The weather was an improvement over the previous year's deluge, and showgoers were treated to warm temps, blue skies, and leaves beginning their transition into Autumn colors. We heard whisperings of "will there be another Overland Adventure?" The answer is yes, and it will return to the western half of the United States, culminating at Overland Expo West in Flagstaff, Arizona. If you joined us on this journey, you're no stranger to the invaluable experiences filling this space. For anyone considering joining us in the future, it's a one-of-a-kind adventure!
From the Log Book
Highest elevation (ft. ): 1,913
Righthand drive rigs: 2
Lowest elevation (ft. ): 440
Number of tires: 196
Miles driven: 302
#overlandadventure19 Instagram tags: 611
Total miles driven by participants to get there: 13,139
Vehicles recoveries: 2
Patches displayed: 251
States represented: 12
Inches of rainfall: 3.6
Trailers in tow: 8
Canadian provinces represented: 1