Rausch Creek Spring Break 2012 Run, March 30th - April 1st Trip Report
What started out as my grandiose last minute plan for a multi-day Spring Break trip with many people to some distant off road park, turned into a weekend trip to Rausch Creek with Rich Martinez with his CJ-5, myself and my boys Garrett (7) and Haden (4) with our 2007 JK Unlimited. Also, Rich's friend Maggie joined us on Saturday night and Sunday.

Rich and I made plans to meet up and travel together on Friday afternoon and planned to camp the entire weekend. The trip started out with questionable weather coming in on Friday night. It wasn't raining on our way up, but the radar and weather forecast called for heavy rains Friday evening and into Saturday morning.

I felt bad about it, but I chickened out and stayed at the Comfort Inn with the boys on Friday night. Rich went up and camped on his own. (Sorry Rich!)

We got to Rausch around 7:45 and while it was foggy and drizzling, the weather wasn't too bad. We started out on the East Property with the intent of running blues to start with and maybe some blacks later in the day. We ran Blue trail 2, bypassed Frog Hole (Not a bad looking mud hole, but apparently it has no bottom), bypassed some other mud holes too as neither Rich nor I enjoy mud. We continued on around to Crawler Ridge with no problems and then headed to the West Property.

We bypassed some REALLY deep ruts and off-camber on Green 11 and then we ran Blue-23 which I think is a new trail with some decent rocks.
We ran 18A and 18B which are blue with some Black options. There was one particular obstacle/rock that Rich got over with his CJ-5 with no trouble, but I wasn't sure if my longer wheelbase JK would clear it. Sure enough, it didn't, and I was "turtled" with no traction. Fortunately, I got to use my new winch for the first time other than pulling trees in my backyard. Rich was laughing at me since it would have been easier to just have him yank me with a strap.
After that there was a really nice black section that took some careful planning to pick a good line. We then headed downhill on Blue 10-B and 10-A and got to Rock Creek. We stopped there for lunch.

There was a hard way across (Red)Rock Creek, and further up was an easier way across Rock Creek. We did some scouting, and Rich led the way (as he had all day) into the harder crossing, then went up Rock Creek for 125 yards or so to the easier crossing. Rich was "bragging" about how "easy he made it look". He was right. Then I took the same path, and beat and banged my way through, but made it without too much issue. Is that right...did I just take my shiny JK on Red trails? Don't tell Maureen!

After crossing Rock Creek, we picked up 13-A which is Blue-Black. This trail had some of the hardest rocks that we had seen yet. They were spaced out quite a bit, and you really had to pick your way through. At one point, I couldn't go left around an obstacle, I couldn't go right, so I decided to try to go over it. Needless to say, I got all messed up. I called for Rich's help, and somehow he talked me back off of it, and got around under my own power.

After that, we ran Black 20 which had some good rocks and on one particular ledge, Rich managed to mangle (further mangle?) his frame cross member/plate that supports the transmission/transfer case which caused his shifters inside the cab to drop a couple of inches. Rich wasn't too concerned about it, so we kept going.

We ran some of Blue 12-B and Blue 12-C and my boys were getting cranky, so we started working our way back to camp. Back on the East property on the way back to camp we ran Blue 4 which has Black Yellow Jacket with some serious challenges and big rocks. Rich and I scouted it out, picked our lines, and made our way through with no problems. Still working our way back to camp, we ran the Blue side of Pole Line with a decent hill climb and some rocks.

Then we finally called it a day and got back to camp. We cooked burgers and dogs and tried to get a fire started with some wood that Rich had brought that was borderline rotting. We tried and tried, and Rich and I had pretty much given up on a campfire. Garrett and Haden would have none of that! So, like any good father would do, I let my 7 year old keep messing with the fire using plates, paper towels, sticks, wind by blowing on it, fire starter sticks, and rotten wood. Perseverance paid off, and Garrett got us a fire going. Granted, it wasn't a blazing fire, but good enough for a little bit of warmth if you got REALLY close, and good enough for some roasted marshmallows. The boys were satisfied.

I put the boys to bed and struggled to stay awake with Rich until Maggie showed up. I stayed up for a little while with Rich and Maggie, but finally gave in around 10 I think.
That was one full busy day of trails on Saturday!

On Sunday, we had our easy camping breakfast (pop-tarts), checked in with the office, and hit the trail.
We started off on Blue 1 which is really close to camp, and has lots of quick up and down hills. Rich was leading again, and the entrance is the first quick hill. He went up and over with his CJ-5 with no problems. I went up and quickly bottomed out when cresting the hill. I backed off and went around.

One of the next hills was a little off camber with some rocks too. Rich made it up and over with no problem. Me…not so much. With the font of the JK pointing up in the air and sideways, I slid into the side of one of those rocks. I couldn't get out of the Jeep, so I called for Rich. Luckily I had 1" to spare from the rock hitting the door sheet metal. I sure am glad to have those Rubicon rock rails. Rich talked me off of it, and I went around...again.

My memory gets fuzzy on this trail from here, but on another quick hill, that I got "turtled" on again, I use my winch again, hooked to Rich as a tow strap to pull me over. I chose not to back up and go around AGAIN because it was narrow and steep on the back side. So to start our Sunday, I found 3 obstacles that I couldn't conquer on our first trail because the JK is too long...or the driver isn't skilled enough, but I like to think that it was the vehicle's problem, not the driver.

With Maggie with us on Sunday, we decided to run Blue trail 2 again. Like Saturday, we avoided Frog Hole. But then later, I don't know if Maggie talked him into it, or if Rich somehow found an interest in Mud, Rich hit a really deep looking mud hole. It turns out that it not only looked deep, it was deep, and Rich was stuck in the middle. With little fanfare, I pulled around the mud hole, Rich hooked us up, and I pulled him out. At that point I took the lead on the trail and we continued up the trail that leads to Crawler Ridge. I cleared a steep hill with some big rocks and got to the top when Rich let me know that he was having some problems. His lockers weren't working (Mud probably!) and he had gotten himself wedged against a tree behind him, and a big set of rocks underneath him. I turned around and got set-up and winched him from the top of the hill.
After that, we stopped for an early lunch and some quick trail repair on Rich's bent rack in the back, and a couple of bolts on his driver side hub. I think that he got his ARB lockers working again at this point too.

After lunch, we headed to the South Property. We checked out the Quarry and watched some guys messing around there, then headed to the Blue-Black part of Snakebite. I think that I heard that OCC cut this trail several years ago, and it is an awesome trail with lots of medium sized rocks spaced out that makes it really challenging and fun. At the end of that trail comes Black Camel Back. Rich and I scoped it out, and it is more of the quick up and down hills and off-camber. Rich led the way, and I followed. At the first difficult section, Rich had a lot of off camber and some difficulty, so I was a bit queasy about it. I saw a path where I could sneak off the trail and then back in between two trees and avoid the whole off-camber part that Rich had fun with. This is where Rich saved my Hardtop! Long story short, Rich saw that I was going to drop off quickly with my left rear side while my right rear side was still high on a rock. This would have quickly slammed my hardtop into the narrow trees that I was trying to get through. After stacking a few rocks I got out without any trouble and was able to skip the rest of Camel Back. Thanks Rich! Rich finished Camel Back with some good challenges, and I met him at the end. Note to self...Camel Back is not good for JK's either.

We came around behind Lake Christy and ran a blue trail with a good long hill, then picked up green trail 22 which turns into Blue-Black 22. Trail 22 was getting really difficult and we had the option to bail out, so we decided to call it a day and head back to camp.
Rich and Maggie packed up quickly, but stayed and helped me pack up ALL of the CRAP that I had packed for me and the boys. Thanks Rich and Maggie!

Just as we finished loading the last things, it started to sprinkle/rain. Just in time to wash some of the mud/black funk off of the Jeeps on the ride home. We traveled together to Harrisburg, where Rich and Maggie stopped for dinner, and I opted to keep rolling home with Garrett and Haden.

As for the JK, no major carnage other than some fresh scratches on the rock rails and who knows what bends/scrapes on the frame/skid plates/shock mounts/control arm mounts. I picked up a vibration that I have diagnosed as a skid plate that got pushed up into my exhaust. Nothing a BFH won't fix!

We had a great time and covered a lot of ground. Maybe next year I will start planning sooner and we can make this an annual Spring Break trip to a more distant location like Kentucky or Tennessee. Heck, even if it is just another trip to Rausch Creek, that would still be a blast too!

See you on the trails! (When it doesn't conflict with my kids Soccer, Track, Baseball or Cub Scouts! Hence the reason for a Spring Break trip since nothing is scheduled over that time!)

Keith Robertson

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