This year’s Wheelin 4 Wishes was the 4th year of this annual event put on by Eagle Valley Off Roaders (EVOR). Proceeds from the event go to the Make-a-Wish foundation. This year, including a generous $1000 donation made by PA Jeeps, EVOR thinks they will be able to reach their goal of donating at least $3900 (the average cost of granting a wish). Last year’s money helped the Make-a-Wish foundation help someone restore their Jeep YJ so that they could enjoy it for the rest of their life. CORE was excited to participate in this event for the first time this year, but due to some last minute complications only 2 CORE vehicles were able to make it.
…any vehicle bigger than a two door Jeep would be lucky to get through without some body damage…
- Andrew and Cherie Taylor (members) – Silver Xterra
- Kevin Barnes and family (member) – Black Discovery
EVOR managed to get special access to both the Eastern Reserve which has been open to the public since May this year, and the Western Reserve which right now is normally only accessible by guided tour. The CORE members planning to attend decided to do the Western Reserve in a Blue Group this year. Some of us headed up the night before to avoid the super early departure from home that would have been necessary otherwise. Larry had planned to come up that morning but on the way up found himself unexpectedly on the side of the interstate with a broken engine belt.
The morning was cool and moist and it had rained the night before. Fog and drizzle would continue to be a part of the experience until around lunchtime. The trails were going to be wet! We headed off into the Western Reserve and it took about 20 minutes to get to the trailhead. Once there we were immediately greeted by a handful of short steep hills that tested your vehicles approach and departure angles as well as breakover angle and then we were into a mild off camber rocky hill climb. Nothing like starting with the good stuff! The trail continued including several larger obstacles that people had the choice to tackle or take a bypass. Overall we were on a good trail for blues.
Unfortunately, around 11:30 we got to a point where you could either take a rockier path between 1 pair of trees, or a smoother path through another pair of trees, but the 2nd option was much tighter. After getting hung up on rocks going through the rockier option I sized up the other tighter option. It would be tight, but we, along with our guides, thought it was doable and went for it. Well one thing led to another and we ended up slipping sideways into a tree. We had to drive along it to get out of the pinch spot. It was my first major body damage. Kevin managed to take the rockier option with some good directions from our guides.
Well, about 300 feet farther down the trail we got to another spot that wasn’t too bad for the 2 door Wranglers, but Kevin and I were the only 4-door vehicles in the group and we were starting to see that on this trail that was going to force us on certain lines that would put us very close to trees on all sides. Well in the process of rolling down off of a rock the Xterra leaned over into a 2nd tree, and then the suspension recoiled slightly bumping me into another! That’s 3 trees in 300 feet! Kevin tried a slightly different line but also ended up with body damage after slipping off the rock next to the tree.
It was lunchtime and we got to assess our damage as we ate. Although we’d gotten some body damage at least were were still driving. One vehicle, a heavily modified Suzuki X-90, had broken already in an optional rocky bowl, and we lost a 2nd vehicle because he had to tow the X-90 back to the parking lot. At least we were still driving, we were keeping positive!
After lunch we continued on. Eventually we finished the trail from the morning and headed to a second, still on the Western Reserve. This one was not quite as tight, but still seemed much easier to navigate in a 2-door rather than a 4-door vehicle. Kevin and I frequently found ourselves doing 3+ point turns, often until we’d bump the bumper into a tree just so we could move a few inches before turning the wheel and going the other way!
The trail in the afternoon included more hills, with some off camber snaking through the woods and at one point a long muddy and very steep downhill descent. You had to pay attention as you descended the hill to not hit the trees, but to also not lock up your brakes which would put you into a slide! After a small electrical repair in one vehicle we continued on our way to a neat landmark nicknamed Puff the Magic Dragon. It’s an area where coal fires underground are causing hot gas and smoke to vent up to the surface. The air around the vent was thick with steam, smoke, and the smell of sulfur and the rocks on the ground were warm to the touch. It was a pretty neat land feature!
Following Puff we headed toward one more series of steep muddy hills, a small playground of sorts that we could try different lines, both up and down, for a while. After everyone had enjoyed the playground it was time to head back to the parking lot. The vehicles were all muddy (as were some drivers), and we may have had some new body damage, but we had a great time. Although we knew from previous rides that the trails on the Eastern Reserve were tight, they were nothing in comparison to the Western Reserve. The Western Reserve trails that we did were blue level for two door Jeeps, but our assessment was that any vehicle bigger than a two door Jeep would be lucky to get through without some body damage. It was nice being able to attend such a great event for such a good cause. Thanks again EVOR for the great event, we hope to be back next year!
Trail report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Andrew Taylor and Kevin Barnes.