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  • Mike

    Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area, Northumberland County, PA

    By Mike

    I finally got the opportunity to get up to the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) in Coal Township, Pennsylvania.  Opening to the public in May 2014, AOAA is now operating a motorized trail system to accommodate all forms of off-road vehicles, including ATV's, side-by-side's, dirt bikes, and of course full size vehicles.  The park's trail head and office is located at 4100 PA Route 125, Coal Township, PA, 17866, which is about 125 miles (2 1/2 hours) from Philadelphia, 175 miles (3 hours) from New York City, and 70 miles (1 1/4 hour) from Harrisburg, PA.  As of my visit, Phase 1 of the overall project was open to the public, giving guests access to 6,500 acres of area to explore.  Just recently Phase 2 began, which will add an event area complete with a parking lot separate from the main office, a event pavilion, and bathrooms.  But, more on that when it all opens up. Make sure to keep an eye on their main website and their Facebook page for up to date infomation: Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area Website:  http://www.anthraciteadventure.com/aoaa/  Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/AnthraciteAdventure?fref=ts  The entrance for the park off of Rt-125 is well marked.  A nice curved paved road takes you back to the parking area and the trail head office.  There is plenty of parking in a very large, level, and clean lot, with about 1/3 of the lot being paved and 2/3 crushed and well-graded stone.  It was actually nice to be able to air down and disconnect without being in the dirt and mud.  Silly, I know, but it's the little things...  Provided in the lot are porta-pots and foot pump sinks, all fairly clean and under a little structure to provide some shade.   A short walk from the parking area is the trail head office. The office staff were very friendly.  I met Dave, who is the Director of Operations of AOAA.  He was glad to see us come to the park and had saw we were coming up through Instagram and provided us with a secondary map showing the full size vehicle trails by trail rating.  Check-in was very painless and the paperwork is very simple to complete.  But, it is highly advised to visit the AOAA website before going to fill out your waiver online and print your application to speed up the process.  Forms and the online smart waiver can be found here: http://www.anthraciteadventure.com/aoaa/Recreation/Motorized.aspx  For those of you who forget to carry cash, they do take credit and debit.  Rates for full size rigs are $30.00 for one day, $45.00 for two days, and $55.00 for three days.  A seasonal pass is also an option for $160.00.  The Office does also have a classroom style area, public flush bathrooms with running water, some AOAA swag to purchase, and some local area information brochures. Once everyone was checked in, aired down, and disconnected, it was time to hit the trails.  From the maps provided and information gathered at the office, we learned that the trails are set up like a "spiderweb".  At this point, the intersections between these trails are marked and labeled on the trail maps.  The lower marker numbers indicate you're closer to the trail head office, the higher marker numbers indicate you're further away.  With that little bit of knowledge, we started following @Phoenix who headed down the paved road out of the park.    Thanks to the magic of CB, we were able to call him back and get on the right path.  (for future reference, the way to the trails is at the back corner of the crushed gravel parking lot, leading out past the old steam shovel bucket).   Main Trail Map Full Size Map with Difficulty Levels The Trails As you can see by the above map, there's a lot of green trails in the Eastern Reserve.  While basic, they were enough features to keep everything fun.  Finding our way around did prove a little challenging once we got deeper into the park.  While the main intersections are marked and you can reference your location on the map by the marker numbers, we did find ourselves on quite a few dead ends.  While this would be no problem with an ATV, turning around 7 Jeeps became a pain.  As the park grows and gets a little older, I'm sure a lot of this will improve.  The blue trails we covered provided just enough pucker factor for all of us to enjoy.  We only covered one black trail, the hill climb which is black going up, green going down.  There were offshoot trails in that same climb area that were blue, double black, and a ridiculous looking red. Of the trails now available,  the best way I can describe the park is this; If you are fine with running green and blue trails all day with hitting the occasional difficult obstacle, you will have a blast at AOAA.  If you are running 40" tires and are just looking to run black and red rock gardens and features, you most likely want to stick to Rausch Creek until the Phase 2 trails open up.  You do have the ability to run a bigger group at AOAA.  It is open enough to not loose track of everyone and no real issues with trail traffic.  We only came across one group of Land Rovers, about the same size as our group, and were easily able to pass on by.  Some of the trails we did run could easily become more difficult by going back in the opposite direction, and I plan on doing that on the next trip. Some photos and video from the trails Steeper than it looks in photos ^^   Area Information Air As of now, AOAA does not offer an air compressor for airing up your tires.  Make sure to bring your own source of air to fill up before leaving the park.  You are going to want to air up and re-connect your sway bar links before hitting the roads.  Their are a lot of hilly curved roads with high speed limits you need to take leaving the park, even to get to camp. Camping As of now, AOAA does not provide on-site camping.  There is a privately owned campground about 5 miles away from the trail head called Earthday Campground.  More information on Earthday Campground can be found here:  http://www.disconnectedoffroad.com/forums/index.php?/blogs/entry/26-earthday-campground-cameron-township-northumberland-county-pa/  Gasoline The closest gas station is at a Turkey Hill Market, located at 140 West Lincoln Street, Shamokin, PA 17872.  From the AOAA park, turn right on Rt 125 and keep following all the Rt 125 markers for about 3 miles.  The Turkey Hill will be on your right at an intersection, with a tight triangle shaped lot. Diesel Fuel The closest diesel to the park that I was able to find, I spotted on my way in to the park when fueling up.  There is a Shell Gas Station / Pheasant Run Minute Mart located at 2878 Fairgrounds Road (Rt 901), Ashland, PA 17921.  It is 10.1 milles (13 minutes) from the AOAA trail head. Food / Ice / ATM As of now, the Turkey Hill Market seems to be the closest location to AOAA.  Follow the directions under Gasoline.     More information to follow as I take more trips to AOAA.        

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  1. Getting a first aid class together just wasn't working out logistically, in time, price, and travel for those who were interested.  So, I've decided to start doing the next best thing.  Making up a list of very helpful first aid supplies that 1) are extremely helpful in an outdoor/remote setting, especially when vehicles are involved, and 2) are extremely easy to use.  For my 1st write-up, I am giving you 4 items.  Yes, I am going brand-specific with these, which I will explain in each description.  And - all four can be bought on Amazon.

    CAT Combat Application Tourniquet (CAT Tourniquet)

    Made by North American Rescue.  


    Thanks to the Military, tourniquets have again become an acceptable method of treating severe wounds to arms or legs with arterial and heavy bleeding.  The big fear from years ago was that once a tourniquet was applied, that limb was pretty much going to be amputated.  Modern treatments and studies have since proven that one can remain on for up to 16 hours without any notable harm.  The CAT Tourniquet made by North American Rescue is the most common brand out there and is the standard military issue.  Why is that important to you?  If you do end up having to apply one of these to yourself or someone else, chances are the next level(s) of care you run into, including first responders and ER staff will know exactly what it is and how it works - which could mean the difference between keeping and loosing your limb.  Also, always count on the Military to have equipment that is KISS approved to use.  There are a lot of knock-offs out there.  Shop carefully!

    Here are a few training videos on use for self application and buddy application:






    Recomended Storage Setup


    Emergency Bandage (Israeli Bandage)

    New Israeli Bandage Battle Dressing, First Aid Compression 6 Inch Bandage41jX6ZFRXHL.jpg

    Another great product out there now for civilian use is the Emergency or Israeli Bandage.  I love this product for your off-road first aid kit because it is very simple to use, it is extremely effective, and it takes the place of several other items, saving you some space.  Instead of having to wrap a wound with gauze, roller gauze, and tape, that normally takes 2 to 3 hands to wrap properly, you have a single product that can be done with one hand if need be and it holds pressure on the wound.  6" is the most common size :emot-quagmire: , but many options are available.


    SAM Splint

    SAM Rolled Splint 36", Orange/Blue718%2B0qj2ebL._SX522_.jpg


    Most first aid classes teach you how to improvise with available supplies to make a splint to support a broken bone or injured limb.  The SAM Splint is a nice portable option to keep in your kit.  Remember those old snap bracelets you had as a kid?  Well, the concept here is similar.  The SAM Splint can be rolled up for storage, but bending it out will give it some rigidity.  It can be cut to fit the needs of the injury.  You will need a wrap of some sort, such as medical tape or cravats to secure the SAM Splint to the injured extremity.  (video is not the best)


    Celox Blood Clotting Solution

    Celox V12090-35 Blood Clotting Solution Pouch, 35 Gram


    Most have heard of "Quick Cot".  Well, Celox is another brand name out there and a better, safer product for me to recommend for civilian use.  Celox blood clotting solution is used to clot severely bleeding wounds, including major arterial hemorrhages, and is administered by pouring it into the wound, and packing to form a plug to stop bleeding. The solution is non-heat generating, non-allergenic, and removable from the wound for treatment, and is tested to class 3 European conformity (CE) marking standards for safety.  It applies as a powder, similar to quick clot, but then turns into a gel when mixed with blood.  It can then be wrapped tightly with the Israeli Bandage, packing the wound for the best chance of stopping bleeding.  The best part, you do not have the chemical burn risk you get with quick clot.  Also, if you already were not aware of the dangers of quick clot, quick clot can get into the blood stream and cause clotting throughout the body, including in the brain, risking stroke.  Celox is a much safer alternative for this.  Bandaging pre-treated with Celox is also available as well as a nose application if you have a family member who gets frequent nose bleeds.  

    Wanna see a pig get cut?


    or shot?



    Hope this helps.  I will add more to this thread from time to time.


    Stay safe!  

  2. So I had big plans for an axle swap and an offroad coupler for the trailer prior to this trip.  A very cold winter, a very long lacrosse season, and my lack of confidence when attempting more than a few of the tasks required to make these modifications and the trailer is pretty much in the same state it was.  Advantage of the axle swap is being able to lighten the load by up to 100 lbs and have all the wheels on the same bolt pattern.  As this is a military trailer, it wasn't like the trailer couldn't handle what I'll be throwing at it in Maine.  Good news is that I have learned a ton of useful information and have a number of the parts in the garage.  

    The only maintenance for the trailer that was needed was new inner and outer wheel bearings.  Nascar stepped in and made sure the job got done correctly.  Which was much appreciated.

    I purchased the ArcPac to power my cpap machine for this trip. This device holds a marine battery and can be charged from the 12 V cigar lighter in the back of the Jeep.  Other options include adding a solar setup, or a 50 AMP Anderson plug.  I've got straps to make sure it doesn't move around while offroad, and this can easily be moved from the Jeep to the trailer once we reach camp.  In the future I can also use this as a power source for camp lighting and possibly a water pump on the trailer.  Something else to do after the axle swap.  Added a high lift jack to the recovery gear and mounted it to the front of the trailer.  I've added an ARB deflator for airing down and a constant duty air compressor to my gear for airing up.

    I'll be on the road from Tuesday - Sunday and am trying to bring all my provisions with me.  As survival requirements are shelter, fire, water, and food, in that order, naturally I've focused on making sure I have enough bacon.  For shelter I have the RTT on the trailer and some military surplus sleeping bags.  For fire, I have a 20 lb propane tank, my belly button lint fire starters, and more cigar lighters than I need.  Something tells me that in a 3.5 million acre forest I may be able to find some firewood.  For water I'm carrying 2, 5 gallon jugs of water, a 3 gallon water brick, and a 24 pack of water bottles.  Standard is to bring 1 gallon of water per day per person.  That comes out to 12 gallons, did I mention Jack will be navigating?  I added a bit for contingency purposes.   As far as food is concerned, I'm prepping all my food and pre-cooking anything I can, and then freezing everything possible.

    What can you freeze?  You'd be amazed.  OJ and water, as long as you remove some to allow for expansion.  Crack and scramble your eggs, add your favorite seasonings and cheese, put it in a zip lock.  Cut your bacon slices in half, portion it out, into a zip lock, freeze it.  Cold cuts, portion them out, first couple of days leave in the fridge, freeze for days 3 - 6.  Fajitas, Burgers, and Steaks.  I use london broil for my fajitas.  I slice down the meat, marinate, and make a decision based on when I'm eating to either pre-cook and then freeze or just freeze.  Add peppers and onions to the meat and stick it in a ziplock, dinner just got a whole lot easier.  Burgers get made, wrapped in wax paper, into a zip lock, into the freezer.  Why freeze all this stuff?  If everything starts out frozen, you need significantly less ice to keep it from spoiling.

    I'll be using two coleman coolers for the trip.  They are the metal sided ones and I find that they keep things a bit cooler and handle the abuse they take in the trailer a bit better than the plastic ones.  One cooler will be the freezer.  Two 12 x 12 x 2 blocks of dry ice and all the food for days 4 - 6 will go into this one, along with a bag of ice.  The other cooler will be the fridge.  This will get one 12 x 12 x 2 block of dry ice and the food for days 2 and 3.  Day 1 is a travel day and we'll be eating WaWa hoagies that will be stored in a small cooler in the Jeep.  If there is any extra room in either of the coolers, I'll stuff it with news paper for packing materials.  The less air there is in the cooler, the easier it is to keep everything chilly.

    I've added a cargo net with tie downs to keep all the gear in the trailer on the washboard logging roads of the North Maine Woods.  I'm using a tarp held in place with bungee ball cords to minimize the water and dust that accumulates during travel.  When I say minimize, think 75% of the water and maybe 50% of the dust.  All my gear is in military surplus cases, tool boxes, or nylon water resistant bags.  The items in the bags can get wet, using the bags to keep them organized.  Using the tarp is really about minimizing the mess, I'm sure I'll be bringing home plenty of dust.

    I've added some organization stuff and navigation toys to the Jeep, I'll cover that in my next post.

  3. WTF is wrong with the morons that run the NJ DEP. You know, the asshats that run the NJ State Parks and Forests.

    It used to be a simple thing. I called up the Atsion ranger station, told them when I wanted to come and how many, and gave them my credit card. In exchange they mailed me a receipt. If I wanted to bring bandit they took care of that on the phone. And if I wanted to reserve more than one site it was never a problem.

    Now reservations have to go through ReserveAmerica. And the first problem is trying to figure that clusterfuck of a site out. Okay, I get through that. So I want to reserve a spot for my camper. No option for pop-up's, so I pick Trailer sites and specify 15'. No campsites found. So I pick Trailer and 10' -- nothing found. Pick any campsite and there they all show. I know there are sites for trailers, but whatever.

    Now I pick a loop. What's a loop? It's a campsite. Why they call it a loop is beyond me. Fine. Done. Now which site... ah, that one. Got it. Book the reservation and...

    it tells me I have to accept a new privacy agreement. Apparently, I get no choice in the matter, so why fucking ask? Just tell me how hard you're going to screw me without lube and let's get it on. I click the button to accept the authority of my digital overlords and do I get to book my reservation now? Oh no.

    Now I have to review my profile. It's all good, but where's the OK button? Nowhere. There is no fucking OK button, just a button to update my profile. I click it and, as expected, it now allows me to edit my profile. I've got nothing to edit, I click save anyway and anxiously await my opportunity to put in my credit card details. WRONG!

    Back to square one again. Fearing I'm stuck in an endless loop, I go through and select my dates and loop and campsite again. Fingers crossed, I go to book and YES! Now I can put in the number of people (2) and my credit card number. It costs me $12 for 2 nights, 2 people, plus a $9.95 reservation fee. Fuck you ReserveAmerica. Fuck you very much. Oh, and how does this convenience fee make my process more convenient? Not in any way, because I STILL HAVE TO PICK UP MY PERMIT IN PERSON!

    Fine. Done with that site, now let me make the reservation for Kaleigh and her friends. Again I select the dates, loop and campsite, go to book and REJECTION!!! Can't book two sites for the same dates.

    So I have to have Kaleigh book her own site. And pay another $9.95. So almost $20 in "convenience" fees for one of the most INCONVENIENT SYSTEMS ever designed. They should raise the fee $3.00 and send each customer a tube of Preparation H to help with the pain and itching caused by using ReserveAmerica.

  4. As I mentioned before, the trip to Africa was a complete random occurrence. A couple of my friends saw the trip on Living Social and we decided to take a chance and see how the trip went. The results from purchasing the trip through Living Social was a mixed bag. We had a really difficult time with the US support from Skylines Safari, but the Tanzania Partners they worked with were excellent.

    Skyline Travel was the company that sponsored the trip through Living Social. The climb up Kilimanjaro was extremely cheap. For the cost of flying to Tanzania (more or less) we were able to fly to Tanzania, two night hotel stay before the climb up Kilimanjaro (of course with the opportunity to purchase additional adventures), breakfast and lunch each day before the climb and all food on the climb. We also purchased a safari through Skyline for 4 days after the climb. The cost was fantastic, the support was mixed. Many people had trouble getting charges put on their credit card in a timely manor and the travel company did send us the wrong season equipment list (they sent a list for the long rainy season instead of the short rainy season), this lead to many people being under prepared and having to rent additional gear.

    Shah Tours, who managed both the climb and safari, were excellent. They provided extremely knowledgeable guides for both the climb and safari. They were able to have 19 of 21 people reach the summit on our climb, which is a very high number considering the short length of the climb. They were also able to provide great hotels on the Safari and a guide who worked hard to provide us with fantastic animal viewing experiences. I would absolutely recommend Shah Tours to anyone going to Tanzania.

    Next entry I'll talk about some of the equipment we brought on the climb and the climb itself.

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