Team DRT made their way north to Coal Township, PA for the first big East Coast event of the year. The 2nd annual WheelersLLC Overland Adventure. I was unable to attend last year, however Tony and Alex covered the event in its inaugural year. You can read that article here and get yourself up to speed on Wheelers LLC who hosted the event and background.
With rain in the forecast it was going to prove itself an interesting weekend. Tony wasn’t able to roll up until Friday night, but I cut out from the Richmond area Thursday evening and made the push to Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA). Rolling into camp around 11PM put me in prime time for the evenings activities. I caught up with our friend Tyler (Travel to Camp), as well as now (new to me) friends Matt (4xFish), Chad (First State Overland), Steve (Outdoor Junkie Co), and Steve (bawlin G-Wagon owner). After a few drinks and introductions, folks called it an “early” night (midnight) in preparation for Friday.
Friday we were up early and ready to get a start on the day. Anthracite has over 5,000 acres to explore and WheelersLLC did a great job mapping out the predetermined “Overland Route”. There we a few hiccups in the early part of the day navigating as the navigation app we were using (Maprika) was not as user friendly as others we had used in previous personal trips. Chad eventually took point given his experience from last years event. We could not have asked for better weather with clear skies and temperatures not rising above the mid 60’s. The group consisted of two 4Runners, 2 JKs, and a single lone G-Wagon all kitted in various trim and accessories. The personal favorite of the group was Steve’s G-Wagon. Steve bought the G-Wagon for one purpose and one purpose only. Overlanding. Most of the time his G-Wagon is parked in a garage, deep underneath NYC. You see, Steve lives and works in the city, commuting daily on the subway so a DD doesn’t make much sense to him. Steve seems to have an affinity for Euro 4wd. Prior to his G-Wagon he had a mildly build Cayenne that he also wheeled.
Much of the route was what you would expect from the East Coast. Lots of roots, that infamous coal water crossings, and plenty of the muddy stuff. If you’ve ever been to Rausch Creek, you can expect a lot of the same variety in terrain and trail ratings. All of the overland route was rated greens. However, one of my personal favorite parts of the day was a blue level “jeep” bypass we sought out. Prior to buying and slowly building my 4Runner to accommodate my outdoor lifestyle, I was in the Jeep world of rock crawling. Tyler (Travel to Camp) did a fantastic job spotting me and Matt (4xFish) through some technical hill climbs and descents. It was a lot of fun working the new to me suspension on the 4Runner through its paces (stay tuned for a review of the Dobinsons Suspension setup).
We wrapped up the day in the vendor area where various vendors were available to display products, talk shop, and answer any questions you may have on parts or trips. Main Line Overland was there with a spotter course for drivers wanting to work on their wheel placement precision by being spotted through a cone course. Mike at WheelersLCC gave a great welcome speech to everyone and officially kicked off the weekend. We didn’t personally attend any courses, but a variety of vendors hosted different subjects throughout the weekend ranging from winching, selecting the right off-road recovery gear, to planning your overland trip.
The only thing that may have been better than the blue trail was Chad’s (First State Overland) Camp Chef Pizza oven. Yes. Pizza Oven. There is something to be said after a few Vermont IPAs and Bourbon to be treated to pizza, beer fries, and burritos in the rain. Speaking of rain…
Friday night brought the rain and it continued well into the morning. What were normally green trails were certainly elevated to high greens in some places as the dirt was replaced with thick mud. This didn’t stop the crew from getting over to the West property to explore the other half of AOAA. One of the highlights of the West property is a pronounced rock formation called the “Whaleback“. It is a really impressive formation which provided a great break from the day’s ride. Since Saturday was the main day and the west property closes around 2pm, we decided to head back to camp after a few hours of trail riding to catch up with folks who had traveled in from all different parts of the east coast.
The final event for the weekend was the vendor raffle. There were a lot of great prizes to be had ranging from vendor gift cards, hi-lift jacks, an Optima battery, and a variety of other awesome off-road swag. I’m not sure where the luck rubbed off, but our group seemed to walk away with a decent haul of the prizes. Mike and various vendors gave one final speech for the evening and then everyone broke off to their respective gatherings. If I remember correctly (it was a little hazy), we spent A LOT of time with our friends from the Vermont Overland crew catching up since the last time we had crossed paths.
Overall, I think the event went really well. The weather didn’t keep anyone from enjoying the trails and it worked out perfectly with clear weather for the raffle and vendor showcases. For a first timer, I was impressed with wide variety of activities available as well as the care Mike and the crew put into making sure everyone had a memorable experience. What I have to applaud them most for is structuring the event so that there was something for everyone to enjoy and at enjoy at their own pace. That just goes to show the kind of event WheelersLLC is trying to build. 2018 was a real success and we’re looking forward to seeing the event continue to mature in 2019.
Photo Credits – Tony Schulstad