CORE’s July romp to Paragon took place on Saturday, July 19, 2003. The weather, although stormy across east central Pennsylvania during the previous evening, was, in a word, BEAUTIFUL the next day!!
“Bob had been wondering if he would get a chance to use his new winch. He did!! Not once but several times!”
In attendance from CORE were:
- Gil Campos, member, 1999 Jeep TJ
- Bob Weaver, member, 2003 Jeep Rubicon
- Mike Vincenty. member, 1990 Jeep YJ
I arrived at the Comfort Inn, Friday evening at about 10 pm, fully expecting everyone else in our group to be there. Bob however, didn’t arrive until after 11 pm, having run into severe storms around York, PA. Mike didn’t make it until almost midnight!!. Due to the late hour, it was mutually agreed that we would forego any socializing that evening, and hit the sack. Saturday morning, we met in the inn’s lounge for a continental breakfast, and then headed for Paragon.
Arriving at the staging area a little after 8 am, I thought the day was going to be a bust for Paragon, as there weren’t too many vehicles there. It didn’t take long for the place to fill up though, and by the time Bob, Mike and I had finished reading the rules, paying out our money and signing our lives away, the lot was crowded!
In addition to our little group, we had company, who joined us at the registration area, just as we were preparing to hit the trails. Company consisted of:
- Brett Nease & Diana Brewer, 2001 TJ
- Dereck & Debra Allison, 2003 Rubicon
The group joined us at the behest of their trail leader who was trying to match them up with a group similar in capability. Brett told me that several of their group had not shown up and the remainder, (2 vehicles), were heading for some of the park’s more difficult trails, such as Undertaker 75 A & B, rated black 3 and red, respectively
Dereck’s new Rubicon was itching to challenge the trails. (OK, so was Dereck!!) It was sporting 31-inch tires, I believe, with a nice off road tread. In addition, it had a four-inch lift. Brett’s 2001 TJ was lifted and equipped with 33-inch tires and had a locker in the rear.
Although they remained technically, their own separate group, just tagging along with us, Dereck, Debra, Brett and Diana soon joined in the CB banter as we proceeded onto the trails.
We headed east on the Coal road, and then took the Valley road over to the east side Pipeline road. The Valley road, although it’s main purpose would appear to be an easy in-out to the rest of the park, is itself an interesting trail. It’s only rated as 2wd but I think that rating doesn’t do it justice. We found other trails during the day that also seemed to be either over or under rated. By the way, for those not familiar with the park’s trail rating system, this is it:
2wd access roads – Yellow
Stock trails – Green – levels 1, 2, and 3
Moderate trails – Blue – levels 1, 2, and 3
Heavily Modified trails – Black – levels 1, 2, and 3
Extremely Modified trails – Red – Guide required
ATV only trails – Purple
After crossing the Haul road, we continued down the pipeline towards the far southeast area of the park, intending to take the Ridge road (Green-1) over to the Muddy Pipeline Bypass (Blue-2). We soon encountered a short trail called Rattler’s trail (Black-2).
I took a quick walk to see what this trail was like (it was a very short trail), and then tried to coax Mike and Bob into trying it, but they opted out. Dereck and Brett where a bit hesitant also, but after I successfully made it through the first half of the trail, they decided I wasn’t going to be the only one having fun, so they jumped in with both feet. The trail had some right serious rocks to crawl over (or around lol), but all three of us made it around the trail and back out onto the Pipeline road without incident. Dereck was pleased with himself and his Rubicon, as this was its first serious trail! The Pipeline road had plenty of water holes on it and we made good use of all of them.
I started having trouble with my air system. My air pump had been running more frequently than I thought it should, and then, mysteriously stopped running. Of course for me, no air meant no lockers!! We stopped near one of the Pipeline road’s more prominent mud holes to check it out. I soon found that I had blown a fuse. That problem fixed, I then encountered the REAL problem, which was an air leak coming from the rear mounted quick disconnect. The more I messed with it, the worse the leak got. I didn’t have a spare disconnect, but fortunately, I had MIKE!! He suggested removing the quick disconnect and replacing it with the business end of the tire inflation tool to act as a plug. After searching around for the right tools which came from Mike, Brett and myself, we managed to get the disconnect off and Mike replaced it with the head from the inflation tool. I fired up the air compressor and VIOLA!! Everything worked!!!
Of course, the remainder of the group, not being the kind who miss an opportunity for lunch, where soon into eating while Mike, Brett and I did our thing with the air system. We soon joined in after fixing my problem, then continued on down Pipeline road, enjoying the water holes as we went.
Ridge Road (Green-1) served as an easy route over to the Muddy Pipeline Bypass (Blue-2). Ridge Road, except for its numerous mud holes, should really have been rated a 2wd trail.
At the west end of Ridge road, was the entrance to Voodoo (Red- guide only!). We didn’t try taking our vehicles on this one, but hearing voices and the sound of off road machines doing their thing, the guys decided to explore Voodoo on foot. (We’re not really sure what the girls did in our absence, but we found them laughing and giggling when we got back!)
Voodoo is DEFINITELY a difficult trail, although I ran it on my very first trip to Paragon, with B4W. It consists of massive rocks everywhere. It’s an ideal trail for any vehicle with 37 inch or better tires, along with the usual 4×4 upgrades. We ran into a group of about 10 vehicles, mostly Jeeps with various mods, who were negotiating the trail. Interestingly, one of the drivers was handicapped, having lost the use of his legs. He was running his Jeep with a hand control that served both as a throttle and a brake!!! One vehicle had already suffered a broken axle on the trail. Of note: The group had just run into a timber rattler before we got there. It had been sunning itself on a rock, and one of the drivers almost stepped on it!!
Leaving Voodoo behind, we proceeded back to the east side Pipeline road, via the Muddy Pipeline Bypass road. Muddy Pipeline is supposed to be a blue-2, but the section we were on wasn’t much more than a green 1. Back on the Pipeline road, we headed north, passing the Rattler’s trail and turning to the west onto a trail known as the Good Bad and Ugly.
This trail is aptly named although you wouldn’t know it from its difficulty designation. Its listed as a green-3, running all the way from the Pipeline road to the Haul road, coming out near the spring. Although there are a few sections of “Green-3”, the majority of the trail is blue-1, 2!!
Although Bob had managed to sheer off the end of his left rear valve stem during a run in with some sizeable rocks on the Muddy Pipeline Bypass, this was his first real encounter with a more or less continuous section of rock. Bob moved cautiously, learning to pick his route as he went. By the time we emerged onto the Haul road, Bob had gained much valuable experience, and his confidence showed on his face.
We opted not to go to the spring this trip as it was getting to be mid afternoon. Instead, I took the group down a very steep little hill that lead to an open area near the spring. From here we headed more or less north, intending to leave the park via the Cabin Spring Trail (Green-2) and Rabbit Run. YES!! RABBIT RUN! Although Mike, Keith and I had had considerable trouble coming down Rabbit Run on a previous outing to the park, I reasoned that we were better equipped vehicle-wise, and that it was worth a shot. I was to second-guess this decision, several times along the way!
We had not been on the Cabin Spring trail very long when we ended up on one of the trails in the vicinity of The Squirrel trail. I had missed a turn to the right, which would have taken us to the 2wd trail- Easy Loop (Green-2), and from there, a direct path to Rabbit Run via 2wd trail- Harder Loop (Blue-1) and the Sleepy Hollow trail (Blue-2). I think we were on the eastern end of the Squirrel trail. I managed to get us back on tract by finding my way onto the East side of Sleepy Hollow. This is where the fun began. With about 3 hours to do it, I was going to take myself and four other vehicles through a maze of narrow, wet, slippery, slimy, rocky, and hilly terrain.
We inched along, climbing over large rocks, across creeks, up hills, and through mud. We each took turns as needed, guiding each other up and over and through various obstacles. We finally came to the section of Rabbit Run, where Keith would remember getting turtled along with Mike on top of a large rock. From here to the top of Rabbit Run proved to be the greatest challenge. Bob had been wondering if he would get a chance to use his new winch. He did!! Not once but several times!
We finally worked our way to an intermediate point on Rabbit Run where the trail levels out to a large open area with a big water hole in its middle. There was one more hill to climb before we could consider ourselves safe and on the way out. Although this hill is a straight shot, it is long and steep, with a lot of loose rock in it’s middle and several formidable rocks to either climb over or try to get around.
I made it to the top and turned around, preparing to winch anyone who might need it, as we had no more time to spare! Mike, Brett and Dereck all had to be winched up and over the rocks in mid hill. It was just too slippery and narrow, and the rocks to high to get over.
I radioed in on channel 5, letting the office know that the CORE group was running late and gave them our location. I also passed on a message from another group who were struggling with a broken tie rod. They were still way back in the Sleepy Hollow area, intending to follow us up through Rabbit Run.
Bob was the last one to come up. I got into position to winch him at the rock outcrop, as I had done for the others. I looked down hill and saw Bob motivating up the hill like a bat out of Hades!! He got to the rocks, slid off to the left where there was a nice drop off and a tree to boot, roared past the tree and much to my amusement continued on to the top! I got a brief look at Bob as he went by and I could swear he had that demon look in his eyes, lol!!
Once back at the registration point, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we were not being fined for our tardiness (about 25 minutes worth). We spent a good hour prepping our vehicles for the road, including returning to the Texaco to air up. We parted company with Brett, Diana, Dereck and Debra, as they were returning to their campsite for the night. Mike, Bob and I headed south towards food and home. The strenuous ordeal of getting us all out of the park had taken a lot out of all of us. In a word, we were starving!! A stop at the Cracker Barrel in Frackville, PA, took care of that problem. We alternately crammed in the food, talked, and laughed about the day’s adventure. From there, it was homeward bound. I got in around 1 am and I’m sure Bob and Mike didn’t get home any earlier.
It was a trip well worth it!! We had all learned a thing or 2, and Bob in particular had learned much about himself and his equipment.
PS: Brett and his group have indicated that they are going to be camping out near Rausch Creek sometime in middle or late September. We may have an invitation forthcoming to join them. They will be camping out in a KOA, a fully equipped camping area and then, I presume, getting in on some action at Rausch Creek. Brett has promised to call me with the details.
Enjoy the picks everyone, those who couldn’t make it missed a great one!!
Trail report written by Gil Campos. Pictures courtesy of Gil Campos and Bob Weaver.