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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.

Joel Elliott's '49 International KB2 rides on a '73 Chevy 4x4 chassis and is powered by a Chevy 350. Looking closely at Joel's handbuilt rack system reveals that every piece of lumber has a purpose and each container has been carefully planned with organization in mind. We found Joel whipping up eggs and bacon on his multi-fuel stove at Carlisle Fairgrounds before we began our travels to Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure.

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.

Departing Carlisle

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.

With a stove that boiled a liter of water in only a couple of minutes, the team from Dee Zee Manufacturing had the coffee ready in an instant, even on the cooler mornings of Overland Adventure East.

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.

Terri and Steve Brock pulled a trailer behind their '12 Wrangler Unlimited loaded with camping supplies, recovery equipment, and their own personal watercraft. The pair happily recounted a journey they took from Ohio to the East Coast where they spent four days exploring the beach where self-sufficiency and sand navigation skills were tested as they soaked up the Atlantic Ocean views in refreshing solitude.

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.

Though Kenneth Glover is usually found exploring the backcountry of West Virginia, he decided to join Overland Adventure East and add a few more states to his adventure repertoire. Two things to know about him when he's on the trail: There's a good chance you'll find red meat in the ARB fridge and his trusty headlamp in the glovebox.

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!

Austin Ganzermiller and James Mallios found themselves without traction after making a multipoint turnaround on a backroad. "We found the one spot on the whole road that had a three-foot-deep ditch on the side. Eight thousand pounds plus gravity and a little bit of sliding action, and we ended up in the ditch. We made it a few feet forward before we actually got stuck and the crew from Overland Experts had to break out their winch and help us."
Photo: Darek Michalecki
Photo: Joseph PolcariRebecca Reder and Joseph Polcari weren't afraid to get their '81 Land Rover Series III Stage 1 dirty in the deepest muck holes, and decorated their sleeping quarters with festive lights in camp each night.
Participants hooked into a hearty meal at Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure after spending almost every hour of daylight on the trail.
Between the one and a half Jeep Cherokees they brought on Overland Adventure East, Samantha Wilson, Serena Wilson, and Matt Patterson had enough off-road equipment to protect the rig, tools, and parts to handle trail repairs, and plenty of camp gear to rock out once the destination was reached. If you meet them out in the backcountry, be sure to ask to hear the tales of learning to fabricate the Cherokee's trailer and exocage!
Photo: Jay KopycinskiWhile some adventurers bedded down behind tent walls or in the cargo areas of their rigs, Kevin Winskey, Kevan Burnett, and Bobby Camp had an off-road apartment wherever the '11 F-150 Raptor pulled the trio's NoBo trailer. Kevin is always prepared with his knife and winch controller and plans to someday steer the Raptor up Moab's Baby Lion's Back obstacle, hopefully, with the NoBo safely parked at camp.
Jonathan Girard and Jean Trudeau, along with the rest of the convoy, rolled into Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure well after dark. The pair found a campsite that was both high in elevation and flat. What they didn't expect was the misty vista in store for them when they slipped out of the roof-mounted Alu-Cab Gen 3 tent the next morning.
David Kriwox, Patrick Turbett, and Jacque Turbett scoped out Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure with their '04 Land Rover Discovery SE7 and found flat ground to deploy the rooftop tent for the last night of Overland Adventure East.
Michael Marrero, Angie Fontes-Ruff, and Jay Kopycinski gathered for an early morning cuppa Joe after rising from the bed-mounted tent on the '17 Ram 2500 Power Wagon.
Marcie and Joel Lawrence rolled in style with their '15 Toyota 4Runner, rocking a set of Mamba M23 wheels, on the third morning of Overland Adventure East.
After packing up on the final morning of Overland Adventure East, we caught AJ Johnson and Ashley Marland rolling through the woods in their '90 Chevy K1500. We asked AJ what he plans next for his Chevy and he told us instead of modifying this one, he's going back to the proverbial drawing board and building something completely new.
Photo: Darek MichaleckiTeamwork is a pillar of the off-road community. Brandon Hinton, with his '10 Wrangler Unlimited, was willing and ready to give James Mallios and Austin Ganzermiller a winch-assisted pull when their Ram 3500 found itself high-centered on a bit of trail.
Charla and Ken Smith rumbled through the fog in their '71 Chevy K20 on the last travel day of Overland Adventure East.
Taylor Wise and Virginia Davis climbed above the foggy valleys on the trails of Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure in their built-for-anything '89 Chevy S-10.
Paul Dickinson started his life of off-road ramblings on the East Coast, exploring Tellico, North Carolina, in a '46 flatfender Jeep. Now that his '98 four-bangin' Wrangler and ultra-lightweight self-made trailer are built to his satisfaction, all that's left to do is update the wheels (his Dick Cepek Fun Country II tires are perfect, so far) and set off on his next adventure—the Pacific Crest Overland Trail.
Photo: Darek MichaleckiMaciek and Darek Michalecki had no issues exploring the toughest lines during Overland Adventure East in their stunning '04 Grand Cherokee.
Todd Nonn and Beatrix Hartmann took off the soft top as they rolled into Overland Expo East at Infinity Downs, Virginia. The pair loves to cook in the dutch oven, and when it comes to further upgrades to the Jeep, they said they'd rather put the money toward traveling.
Kurt Beiermeister and Scott DeRaps could always be found trying out the toughest line during Overland Adventure East. As the pair entered Overland Expo East, the '08 FJ Cruiser showed signs of the muddy obstacles they'd been over and through. Kurt told us his next adventure plans include the Swisha Loop in Quebec. He also keeps a stash of fuses, moist towelettes, and a multitool in his glovebox when out exploring trails.
Photo: Kraig MackettKraig Mackett's '91 Defender 90 fell into line between the other Land Rover vehicles in the convoy, and was lit up like a holiday light show when he made camp at Overland Expo East.
John Bradshaw runs Twin Mountain Off Road Adventure, a 57-acre off-road oasis just outside Williamsport, West Virginia. Ten miles of trails weave in and out of the hills and hollows of the Appalachians and span all difficulty levels, giving stock rigs and off-road buggies alike places to explore. John has been running the establishment since 2014, rolls around in his Land Rover or an orange Unimog, and brings with him off-road experiences from across the globe.
Photo: Jay Kopycinski
Photo: Kraig Mackett
Photo: Darek Michalecki
Photo: Darek Michalecki
Photo: Darek Michalecki
Photo: Joseph Polcari
Photo: Joseph Polcari
Photo: Kraig Mackett
Photo: Four Wheeler Staff

From the Log Book

Highest elevation (ft. ): 1,913
Righthand drive rigs: 2
Lowest elevation (ft. ): 440
Number of tires: 196
Adventurers: 53
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