Matt and friend, Hunter – [borrowed] Ford Bronco
Jendra and Family – Toyota Tundra
Steve and Mom – Nissan Frontier
Jeff – Land Rover Defender
I grew up on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, so Assateague Island has been a special place to me for a long time. Assateague Island National Seashore provides one of Maryland’s limited opportunities to get your tires off of the pavement. It’s been a long time since CORE has done a beach run, so I was more than happy to lead a winter day trip out the weekend before Thanksgiving.
We all met up in the parking lot near the Over-Sand-Vehicle (OSV) zone entrance at noon. We had a quick drivers meeting, aired down and headed onto the beach. As we passed through the gates, there were only 9 other vehicles out there on a fairly pleasant November Saturday. It was mostly clear and pleasantly warm in the sun, but as it got dark the wind picked up and it got a little chilly. Just perfect for a campfire!
During the summer, it’s not uncommon for large sections of the beach to be closed (for overwash or nesting birds/turtles. Thankfully for us, all 12 miles of beach were open when we went, all the way down to the VA state line.
Our group had no problems driving down the beach. We passed a few sport fishermen, hunters and several of Assateague’s wild horses. There are marker posts along the beach that prevent you from driving on the dune area. Because Assateague is a barrier island and moves around a few feet every year, there were spots where the ocean tide took over much of the beach. To avoid driving in the surf, there were areas where we had to wait a few seconds for the tide to ebb out, and drive across wet sand.
At no time did any of us exceed the 25mph speed limit, we made good time and got to the state line in about an hour. We took a few pictures with the fence, and then drove back to an area where the beach widened out a bit. We parked along the beach, and set up our campfire and chairs.
As we parked, one of our vehicles found themselves getting a little stuck as they lost momentum. We aired down the tires a bit more, but by this point it was dug in enough that it couldn’t just crawl out. We dug out the sand from around each tire, and threw in some traction boards. With about 5 minutes of work, the vehicle had no trouble getting out. It really shows the importance of A) airing down enough and B) being prepared.
Jendra’s kids played in the sand (and were even brave enough to get in the cold water!), while the rest of us just hung out in camping chairs around our campfire. We had brought plenty of wood, enough to keep us warm until well after it got dark. We let the fire burn down to ashes, which we doused with water and buried in the sand. We all drove off the beach, aired up our tires, and started home.
I had a little bit of excitement on the way home, experiencing something that I haven’t yet. As we were finally leaving the island and getting up to speed, we noticed an almost rhythmic shaking coming from the rear left side. We pulled over, climbed out and noticed that the rear left tire was caked with dried wet-sand. We knocked it out and everything was fine, the sand had just knocked the tire out of balance ala “My Cousin Vinny”
All in all, I think that it was a good trip!
Trail report written by Matt Malone. Pictures contributed by Matt Malone, Steve Scheuler, Aimee Rambharos and Jendra Rambharos.