Rausch Creek

Having a bit of wheeling withdrawal symptoms, it was time for another run to Rausch Creek. This would be the inaugural run for the new Rubicon. Needless to say I was a bit nervous about damaging the vehicle. Oh well, this is why I got it.

So, a band of dedicated CORE members and guests headed to Tremont, PA for a summer run at the Rausch Creek off-road park. This trip to Rausch Creek was a bit different than the club’s previous runs. Rausch is a pay-for-play park with 35 acres of trails cut though the PA mountains. The usual cost of $25 for a day of wheeling was covered by CORE for all club members. Now, don’t you wish you made this run?

Actually we had a great turn out for this run:

“Your ability to pick a line through the boulders is tested on some of the more challenging portions of this trail.”

  • Mike V, member, 2005 Rubicon
  • Dave Dorrin, member, 2003 Rubicon
  • Steve Backus, member, 20032 Jeep TJ
  • Keith Holman, member, 2001 Blazer
  • Loc Pham, member, 1998 Jeep TJ
  • Jose Avila, member, 1996 Toyota 4Runnger
  • Mike & Deb Kupec, members, 1970 Bronco
  • Alex & George Hinson, guests, 1992 Blazer
  • Chris & Ryan Jones, guests, 1971 Bronco
  • Gary Gibson, guest, 1973 Bronco

In Urbana we met Loc, Keith, Jose and Alex and George. Up 81 we pickup Dave, and at Rausch we meet up with Steve, Mike and Deb, and the Bronco guests.

Rausch has camping available. The Kupec’s and the Bronco guests took advantage of this by coming up on Friday night.

After getting the registration formalities out of the way, we held a short driver’s meeting, and then headed for the trails. We proceeded to the entrance of L3. I always enjoy this trail as a warm up for the day’s adventure. This trail proceeds generally up hill with rocks and boulders of various sizes streamed about. Your ability to pick a line through the boulders is tested on some of the more challenging portions of this trail. L3 starts as a green rated trail and becomes a blue rated trail about half of the way in. I bumped and scraped more than once on this trail while navigating over the larger boulders.

This was Alex’s first ever wheeling run. He was driving the 4-door S-10 blazer. He did have to work a bit to get through this trail. Some occasional spotting helped him get through some of the more difficult sections. I’m sure he got a good appreciation for wheeling and the abilities of his vehicle.

Once you get further into L3, there are two ways getting to the top. The more difficult path is to take a left fork and proceed straight up a very rocky section. Proceed right and you take the “by-pass”. The by-pass is still very challenging. Most of the group took the by-pass. This part of the trail is very dusty and up hill with boulders thrown in for extra excitement. Those that took the by-pass made it up. However, I did see some tires spinning by some trying to get up the hill.

While the rest of the group was working the by-pass, Steve and Chris opted for the more difficult route, straight up the boulder covered hill side. Both Steve and Chris made the climb look easy.

Once at the top of L3, we came upon the infamous “bowl”. If you take the bowl challenge, you will descend very steeply into a deep pit, cross the watery bottom, and hopefully climb out the other side. Well we had some takers for the “bowl” challenge. First Steve, in his lifted and locked TJ gave it a try. He carefully dropped in, waded across the bottom, then climbed out the other side without any difficulty. Next was Dave. He also dropped in, got across the watery bottom (water reaching the top of his bumper), then tried to climb out. The first attempt failed since the front diff pumpkin was dragging on the high portion of the ruts. Loc strategically placed a couple of rock in the ruts and Dave gave it another try. This time the rocks provided just enough lift for the front axle to allow the Jeep to extricate itself from the bowl.

Of course now Loc had to try. He dropped into the bowl, scooted across, then using a heavy foot, powered his way out on the first try.

We did have a small “fender blunder” on this run. Keith was in the bowl and working to get to get the BlaZer out. It seems after several failed attempts to get the BlaZer out of the bowl, a recovery effort was started with Chris’ Bronco. The Bronco was parked some 20 ft or so from the top of the bowl. However, Keith gave the BlaZer one more try and this time, with tires spinning, was able to emerge from the bowl. Seeing the Bronco, he tried to stop, but slid into the corner of the Bronco and smacked dead center on his front bumper. Fortunately, no one was injured. No air bags deployed. And the only damage of any significance was sustained on the front bumper of the BlaZer. One lesson learned. When attempting a vehicle recovery, make sure that all parties are fully aware that a recovery is being attempted and all subsequent vehicle movements are cleary coordinated. Upon examining his bumper, Keith did say that he now has an excuse to cut out a section of his bumper and make a mounting location for his new winch.

I moved the group onto blue trail U3. The U3 trail has clusters of boulders that are larger than those on L3. I proceeded down the trail and cautiously made my way through two rough areas. I did scrape a few times, but came through with no damage. Boy, I could really use a couple of inches of lift.

I was concerned that the trail would be too rocky for Alex’s stock, long wheel-base, S-10. Several of us discussed this. We talked it over with Alex, and using “driver’s discretion”, Alex wisely decided that he would opt out of this portion of the run. While the rest of the group slowly made their way through U3, Keith and Alex headed down K to A and waited for the rest of the group to emerge from U3.

Then we headed out to the west side of the part and stopped for lunch at our traditional spot. Along the way we navigated green trail B. Nothing hard here, flat with pockets of shallow water/mud puddles.

For the afternoon run, we decided to stay on the green trails. So with lunch done, we entered green trail J. This trail takes you down into the valley. It is a long gradual descent, requiring at times that you travel in an off-camber manner. The J trail has pockets of rocky sections, nothing too difficult for the group, but enough to keep you on your toes.

Once at the bottom we turned right onto green 11. Here we stopped at the “Rock Creek” area. The Rock Creek is an open area covered with large boulders. This is an area where extremely built rigs may play. Chris Jones with his Bronco, decided to play in the Rock Creek. This was the first time I had the opportunity to see someone actually drive across these massive boulders. Chris’ Bronco was well built and could handle this difficult terrain. He proceeded cautiously, using a spotter on some of the more difficult sections. I’m glad he had a spotter. At one point I was concerned that if he took the wrong line, the Bronco would end up flipped on its left side. With careful spotting and driving he got across the Rock Creek and emerged onto a side trail that brought him back to 11, where he joined the rest of the group.

We proceeded down 11 and hung a right onto trail 19, aka “Keystone Krawl”. This was a nice little loop that went up hill, proceeded a bit across the side of a hill, then descended, eventually reconnecting to trail 11. From here we continued on 11, and traversed the outer portion of the park.

The outer loop of the part does not present too many challenges. It is just a nice ride. At one point there was a fork in the trail. Go left for an easy way. Go right for a very deep rutted trail. I went left. Some others went right.

At this point it was nearing the end of the day’s run. I took the group back to the staging area via “Tower Road”. We ended the day with a nice hill climb up to the top of the staging area. Here we all put our vehicles back together. Some aired up. We took a few moments to enjoy the great mountain scenery.

This was another great ride. The wheeling was great, no damage to the Rubicon, lots of good friends, what more could you ask. You really need to make the next one!

Trail report written by Mike Vincenty. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman and Loc Pham.

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