by Stephanie Hart
Overlanding is a combination of off-roading and camping, way off the grid, where the journey is much more important than the destination. Our Stephanie Hart teamed up with a Virginia based adventure company, Terra Overland, and what she found was an adrenaline rush good for the mind, body and spirit!
STEPHANIE HART: We’re going overlanding through the backcountry of the George Washington National Forest. The trails we’re gonna be on were not made for tourism, so there are no safety tracks; there are no guard rails. It’s going to be a pretty fun day, pretty interesting, and I cannot wait to hop behind the wheel of our Jeep Rubicon.
Meet Alpha One. He has a 6-inch TeraFlex lift and 38-inch Mickey Thompson tires. He’s more than capable to handle whatever Union Springs Trail throws at us.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: It has 5.13 gear ratio and completely adjustable shocks, and a RIPP Supercharger to get us up over some of these rocks today.
STEPHANIE HART: Shawn Vanderpoel is my guide and the owner of Terra Overland.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Our mission is to set people free and that really is what we are trying to do out here.
STEPHANIE HART: By keeping it slow and low, this is going to be an epic journey off the grid.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Alright, so we’re going to keep it nice and even through the switchback—this is your first switchback, so you want to take-- make sure you keep that throttle control all the way even. You don’t want to lose your momentum, but you don’t want to gun it either… there you go—Oh, couldn’t have done it better myself.
STEPHANIE HART: Thank you.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: You got this.
STEPHANIE HART: Thank you.
I’m focusing on my approach angle, departure angle and breakover angle. Using the terrain to my advantage…95% of the time …
*Laughing* You’re sweating over there.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: No, not at all. Not at all. I’m loving it.
STEPHANIE HART: Crying?
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Nope, not at all. There’s nothing on this truck if it—if it doesn’t breaks you can’t fix. So, you’re out here on an adventure and you’re learning, and you’re doing an amazing job.
STEPHANIE HART: Just make sure you don’t bill me, you bill John Davis, MotorWeek.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Poor John
STEPHANIE HART: And we’re just getting started; a series of deep mud holes along the way is what it’s all about!
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Right-- you stay driver when you come up over. There you go.
STEPHANIE HART: Oh that must have got us.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Woohoo! Perfect, perfect.
STEPHANIE HART: As I continue to crawl up the mountain, my confidence grows and my cell bars shrink.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: Very little cell service, close to none, you are not inundated with text messages and push notifications and work. The idea is to forget the world behind you and just let nature take you over. Like Frank Lloyd Wright said is to live with nature and embrace that organic architecture.
STEPHANIE HART: When we Meadow Knob, that came naturally to me. From here, you can see Shenandoah National Park, Massanutten Resort and West Virginia. And our overlanding adventure only gets better as we continue our trek to the summit which is known as Flagpole Knob.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: She’s awesome. She’s got this. She’s a pro.
STEPHANIE HART: Driving a 100-thousand dollar tricked out Jeep Rubicon, off the grid, is a bucket list kind of thing; however, you can still have an adventure like this without breaking your budget.
SHAWN VANDERPOEL: All you need is a good pair of tires and 4-wheel drive and just come. That’s all you need. You don’t have to do anything crazy like we are doing today; You can just stick to the basic fire roads.
STEPHANIE HART: But if you want that adrenaline high, you can rent it. Terra Overland offers support with day and overnight Jeep adventure packages.
I knew we were getting closer to the top when my ears popped.
What a climb! It feels great to have reached our destination, at 4500 feet elevation. It’s pretty hard to believe we started way over there at 1300 feet elevation.
It didn’t disappoint. Driving down the mountain at the end of our six-hour journey, I felt a real sense of accomplishment. I conquered all of mother’s natures challenges by activating my inner adventurer through overlanding.
Alpha One wore mud like a badge of honor and we wore smiles!