US East Running the Trans America Trail (TAT) from WV to the OR coast

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armyRN

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I'm running the GAIA premium version for the same reasons as previously stated.

GAIA is a very popular GPS app for Overlanders, and it sounds like that's what most of us will be using. This TAT trip is a bucket-list trip for many - don't cheap out on your GPS app. Whether it be GAIA or Hema maps or Garmin or OnX or whatever... don't get the cheapest version. GAIA premium is what... $39/year?

And once you get your GPS system, start playing with it. Don't wait till the last minute to download your TAT maps. Make sure you've got a dash mount for your phone (or tablet; whatever you'll be using) and go for a drive with it. Make sure your mount isn't wobbly with the phone/tablet attached. Is it where you can easily see it? Is it in the way of anything? (It would suck if you got it all set-up, and then found out it blocks putting in CDs in the stereo.) Is it programmed the way you want it? Are you happy with the overlays you've chosen? Do the power cords get in the way of anything?

I've set mine up on the phone to also show elevation and speed. I may change the speed to mileage/odometer - we'll see. I've got a tablet mount ordered so I can have my iPad within view and reach at the same time. Both will have GAIA running, but the phone will be set-up zoomed-in, while the tablet will be zoomed-out for a more broader view of what's around us.
 
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DEADBEEF

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You're welcome. Just tryin' to help out.

Smart move to do a little research up-front on driving skills.

Before you spend money on a class, read this short book (80 short pages) linked below, written by Mark Smith:

Book Link: cca77024ba.pdf (jeepjamboreeusa.com)

Mark Smith is a legend in the Jeeping/Off-Road world (at the end of the book it talks about him). But the principles in this book (full text linked above) applies to all vehicles taken off pavement. Some things he mentions in the book though (like starting the vehicle in gear) won't work if your vehicle won't allow it. On some Jeeps you can easily disconnect the clutch interlock - don't know about the Toyotas. It has been a while since I've read the book - I should probably reread it just to refresh myself. Probably everyone (from novice to expert) planning on doing the TAT should read this book before we hit the trail.

I've attended a few Jeep Jamborees in the past, and have been part of the official Jamboree crew a time or two. They're fun, but expensive. But if you want to wheel in a part of the country you've never been to, it is a good way to get an introduction to a new place with experienced guides.

Sometimes local four wheel drive organizations will put on driving classes. This might help you get started:

Link: Home - United Four Wheel Drive Associations Inc. (united4wd.org)

If you're in S.C., consider joining the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association - they might put on some off-road driving clinics.

Link: Southern Four Wheel Drive Association - SFWDA.org Southern Four Wheel Drive Association

When I was stationed in the south, I always enjoyed their Trailfest and Dixie Run events, and was a member of SFWDA.

View attachment 184989
Great book. Quick read but lots of good stuff there. Now we just need to get out and start practicing it.
 

Neal A. Tew

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I'm running the GAIA premium version for the same reasons as previously stated.

GAIA is a very popular GPS app for Overlanders, and it sounds like that's what most of us will be using. This TAT trip is a bucket-list trip for many - don't cheap out on your GPS app. Whether it be GAIA or Hema maps or Garmin or whatever... don't get the cheapest version. GAIA premium is what... $39/year?

And once you get your GPS system, start playing with it. Don't wait till the last minute to download your TAT maps. Make sure you've got a dash mount for your phone (or tablet; whatever you'll be using) and go for a drive with it. Make sure your mount isn't wobbly with the phone/tablet attached. Is it where you can easily see it? Is it in the way of anything? (It would suck if you got it all set-up, and then found out it blocks putting in CDs in the stereo.) Is it programmed the way you want it? Are you happy with the overlays you've chosen? Do the power cords get in the way of anything?

I've set mine up on the phone to also show elevation and speed. I may change the speed to mileage/odometer - we'll see. I've got a tablet mount ordered so I can have my iPad within view and reach at the same time. Both will have GAIA running, but the phone will be set-up zoomed-in, while the tablet will be zoomed-out for a more broader view of what's around us.
The next release of the OB1 app promises to have the ability to upload GPX files to the map.

I do hope that you guys will do this along the way or upon your completion.
 

Hallout

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I just added myself to the list, and am really hoping to be able to go on this, for at least part of the trip. I'm active duty Air Force (Space Force in February), though, so I don't know how things will go, especially this far out. Assuming I'm able to go, I'm picking up a 95 triple locked FZJ80 in a few weeks that I'm hoping to build up to be ready for this. If that isn't ready to go by June, I'd be taking our 2019 Ford Ranger Fx4 instead. I have some mild overlanding experience, but years of backpacking experience. I'll be taking my wife and 2 kids, all of whom love camping and going on road trips, so this should be a fun trip for all of us. Any and all tips would be appreciated, but I'm very excited about the prospect!
 

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I just added myself to the list, and am really hoping to be able to go on this, for at least part of the trip. I'm active duty Air Force (Space Force in February), though, so I don't know how things will go, especially this far out. Assuming I'm able to go, I'm picking up a 95 triple locked FZJ80 in a few weeks that I'm hoping to build up to be ready for this. If that isn't ready to go by June, I'd be taking our 2019 Ford Ranger Fx4 instead. I have some mild overlanding experience, but years of backpacking experience. I'll be taking my wife and 2 kids, all of whom love camping and going on road trips, so this should be a fun trip for all of us. Any and all tips would be appreciated, but I'm very excited about the prospect!
Welcome to the TAT expedition, it will be an exciting adventure.
 

armyRN

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I just added myself to the list, and am really hoping to be able to go on this, for at least part of the trip. I'm active duty Air Force (Space Force in February), though, so I don't know how things will go, especially this far out. Assuming I'm able to go, I'm picking up a 95 triple locked FZJ80 in a few weeks that I'm hoping to build up to be ready for this. If that isn't ready to go by June, I'd be taking our 2019 Ford Ranger Fx4 instead. I have some mild overlanding experience, but years of backpacking experience. I'll be taking my wife and 2 kids, all of whom love camping and going on road trips, so this should be a fun trip for all of us. Any and all tips would be appreciated, but I'm very excited about the prospect!
Welcome aboard! Sounds like you'll do fine - I hope you can make it. Make sure you read the first few posts if you haven't already for vehicle requirements and expectations (nothing too radical, but some are specific). Many vehicles don't come with front (or rear) tow hooks (or are even a factory option) so don't wait till the last minute if your chosen vehicle needs them.

Lots of good tips already in this thread, but of course let us know if you have any questions.
 

Neal A. Tew

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@armyRN Paul,

Somewhere along the way we briefly discussed trying to coordinate a meetup between this TAT run and the 3rd Annual Buena Vista June Jam.

Admittedly, it was probably too ambitious to work out the timing. So I want to let you know I moved this event to the first weekend of June so it'll be out of the way. I hope to be able to jump in around Trinidad or Salida and run with you guys unhindered for a few days.

I do believe you'll be going through Buena Vista. There are some really interesting high elevation trails around there in case you decide to linger a day or two. Just let me know if I can help.
 

Hallout

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I just added myself to the list, and am really hoping to be able to go on this, for at least part of the trip. I\'m active duty Air Force (Space Force in February), though, so I don\'t know how things will go, especially this far out. Assuming I\'m able to go, I\'m picking up a 95 triple locked FZJ80 in a few weeks that I\'m hoping to build up to be ready for this. If that isn\'t ready to go by June, I\'d be taking our 2019 Ford Ranger Fx4 instead. I have some mild overlanding experience, but years of backpacking experience. I\'ll be taking my wife and 2 kids, all of whom love camping and going on road trips, so this should be a fun trip for all of us. Any and all tips would be appreciated, but I\'m very excited about the prospect!
Welcome aboard! Sounds like you\'ll do fine - I hope you can make it. Make sure you read the first few posts if you haven\'t already for vehicle requirements and expectations (nothing too radical, but some are specific). Many vehicles don\'t come with front (or rear) tow hooks (or are even a factory option) so don\'t wait till the last minute if your chosen vehicle needs them.

Lots of good tips already in this thread, but of course let us know if you have any questions.
I've gone through them, and have made a checklist. With any luck, the Land Cruiser will be set up for it, but at minimum the Ranger will be ready to go.
 

smlobx

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@armyRN is there a maximum number of participants allowed?
Also, how will the camping work out with such a large group?
Thanks.
 

armyRN

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@armyRN is there a maximum number of participants allowed?
Also, how will the camping work out with such a large group?
Thanks.
I put a maximum of 20 vehicles. This is about twice as large as some would recommend, but I'm hoping by putting out expectations up front we can pull this off with minimal heartburn. Sadly, I'm expecting the possibility (based on past experiences) that up to half will back out as we get closer to the departure date for whatever reason (work issues, family stuff, financial issues, vehicle issues... whatever). But I'm planning this as if all 20 vehicles show up.

This trip has not been pre-run by me. The TAT map shows potential camping areas, but there are no guarantees as to availability. I do not know how far we will travel every day, or where we will be camping every night. Think of the unknown as part on the adventure. It would be the same if you were traveling solo.

This is also one of the reasons we need to stay together on the trip, and time management becomes critical. Gas stops can't turn into two hour stops. We need to get up and get moving in the morning at a designated time (usually between 0800 and 0900 - the time will be put out the night before) or we'll never make it in the allotted time.
 
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smlobx

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^^^
Thank you. That was what I was thinking that it might be difficult to find camping for 20 vehicles. I will keep an eye on this thread as this is on my bucket list and since I’ve recently retired I can make the time. If I decide to try and join the group I’ll post up my “Overlanding resume” but I’m sure i’ll fit in..
 

armyRN

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^^^
Thank you. That was what I was thinking that it might be difficult to find camping for 20 vehicles. I will keep an eye on this thread as this is on my bucket list and since I’ve recently retired I can make the time. If I decide to try and join the group I’ll post up my “Overlanding resume” but I’m sure i’ll fit in..
Yes. Like I mentioned, I'd be surprised if all 20 vehicles showed up on 12 June. But even with just 10 vehicles, we might be camping a little close to each other depending on where we stop in the evening. But we're going to "go for it" and see what happens in the evening. It is part of the adventure!

Hopefully you can join us. There are pros and cons to doing the TAT with a group (vs. going solo), and pros and cons to doing it with a small group vs. a potentially large group. Only you can decide what's right for you. I'm just offering an option for those interested in doing the TAT with a group from WV to the Pacific Coast.
 
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armyRN

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@armyRN Paul,

Somewhere along the way we briefly discussed trying to coordinate a meetup between this TAT run and the 3rd Annual Buena Vista June Jam.

Admittedly, it was probably too ambitious to work out the timing. So I want to let you know I moved this event to the first weekend of June so it'll be out of the way. I hope to be able to jump in around Trinidad or Salida and run with you guys unhindered for a few days.

I do believe you'll be going through Buena Vista. There are some really interesting high elevation trails around there in case you decide to linger a day or two. Just let me know if I can help.
Will do. I'm looking forward to the CO portion. I was stationed at Ft Carson CO in the early 80's.
 
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Neal A. Tew

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@armyRN Paul,

Somewhere along the way we briefly discussed trying to coordinate a meetup between this TAT run and the 3rd Annual Buena Vista June Jam.

Admittedly, it was probably too ambitious to work out the timing. So I want to let you know I moved this event to the first weekend of June so it'll be out of the way. I hope to be able to jump in around Trinidad or Salida and run with you guys unhindered for a few days.

I do believe you'll be going through Buena Vista. There are some really interesting high elevation trails around there in case you decide to linger a day or two. Just let me know if I can help.
Will do. I'm looking forward to the CO portion. I was stationed at Ft Carson CO in the early 80's.
I'm close enough to Carson that they rattle my windows.
 

Aloha_Cruiser

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I just joined a TAT group on Facebook and there’s some people doing the trail and documenting their travels and even plotting way points on Gaia. A little insight on what to expect.
Seems like a good crew is getting assembled here. Should be a good time.
Like you guys just stated as the date gets closer we may have some falling out. Including me. Haha.

If there’s anything I can do to help with researching campsites or national parks along the way please let me know.
I’m thinking if we split regions up and have people scout specific areas or places they’re familiar with it may help lessen the load on 1 person. Just a thought. Super excited to be part of this and getting out to see different parts of the US.
In the meant time. Get those rigs ready, I just purchased a full size tire to replace my old dry rotted spare. Getting spare parts and other necessities ready.
Just found out my winch is acting up so I gotta figure out what’s going on with it.

Thanks again for putting this on for the masses.
 
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armyRN

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I just joined a TAT group on Facebook and there’s some people doing the trail and documenting their travels and even plotting way points on Gaia. A little insight on what to expect.
Seems like a good crew is getting assembled here. Should be a good time.
Like you guys just stated as the date gets closer we may have some falling out. Including me. Haha.

If there’s anything I can do to help with researching campsites or national parks along the way please let me know.
I’m thinking if we split regions up and have people scout specific areas or places they’re familiar with it may help lessen the load on 1 person. Just a thought. Super excited to be part of this and getting out to see different parts of the US.
In the meant time. Get those rigs ready, I just purchased a full size tire to replace my old dry rotted spare. Getting spare parts and other necessities ready.
Just found out my winch is acting up so I gotta figure out what’s going on with it.

Thanks again for putting this on for the masses.
You're welcome. It does sound like we've got a good group signed up; it'll be quite the adventure! I'm especially wanting us to be welcoming to those new to Overlanding.

I think I'm following the same person on the TAT Facebook page. He's going solo, and having some issues d/t the weather (being winter and all) - quite a few road closures and such. But it is fun looking at his pictures, and he's enjoying himself. It's getting me excited for the trip!

One of the things I've learned from reading others' stories of their TAT runs is you can't really plan your trip out more than one day at a time (although not an excuse for not getting an early start on the road every morning). Some days they'll do 250 miles, the next only get 28 miles d/t the terrain or whatever. The common theme seems to be you need to live in the moment and take it as it comes as you're driving. And I've had the same experience with most of my long adventures - some days you just don't get that many miles completed and it isn't for lack of trying. A minor obstacle will slow you down for a bit. Now try to get a dozen vehicles over and through the same obstacle and now you've potentially lost some serious time.

And some folks doing the TAT will decide "this state will be boring, so we're going to bypass it". I don't plan on us bypassing anything if we don't have to; I want us to get the whole TAT experience - not just "pick-and-choose" certain sections. If a section seems flat and boring, we'll just power through it and keep going, but we're not skipping it.

And definitely, if someone out there knows a section of the TAT or a region well, while we're going through it their knowledge will come in handy. While there are campgrounds marked on Sam's maps, I'm sure it isn't all inclusive. And I'm always on the lookout for a good military surplus store!

I'm glad you're addressing your spare tire issue. On my last adventure with a group, it was me that got a flat tire (happens to the best of us no matter what tire you're running), so I ran my spare the rest of the trip. Good thing I had a matching full-size & mounted spare tire so I could swap it out and keep going and not slow down the group. Turned out to be a leaking valve stem (but I didn't know it at the time).

Speaking of which, these can come in handy (they're kinda cool) - seems like the above wasn't the first time I've had a flat d/t a valve stem. So if you're looking to add to your vehicle repair kit:

Link: Colby Valves, Replacement Wheel Valve Stems — OffroadGorilla.com
 
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DEADBEEF

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@armyRN Paul,

Somewhere along the way we briefly discussed trying to coordinate a meetup between this TAT run and the 3rd Annual Buena Vista June Jam.

Admittedly, it was probably too ambitious to work out the timing. So I want to let you know I moved this event to the first weekend of June so it'll be out of the way. I hope to be able to jump in around Trinidad or Salida and run with you guys unhindered for a few days.

I do believe you'll be going through Buena Vista. There are some really interesting high elevation trails around there in case you decide to linger a day or two. Just let me know if I can help.
I was thinking about a related question to the “high altitude” trails in Colorado, as well as just out West portion in general. As an East Coaster we have not been in high elevation, above 5,000 feet for years. So I was bit concerned if there are any issues with a) the vehicles performance and b) my performance. Is there any thing as a “flat lander that we can do to prepare for those passes that are 10,000 feet and above that we will encounter along the western TAT. Thanks...
 

Neal A. Tew

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I was thinking about a related question to the “high altitude” trails in Colorado, as well as just out West portion in general. As an East Coaster we have not been in high elevation, above 5,000 feet for years. So I was bit concerned if there are any issues with a) the vehicles performance and b) my performance. Is there any thing as a “flat lander that we can do to prepare for those passes that are 10,000 feet and above that we will encounter along the western TAT. Thanks...
Since you are driving out vs flying you'll have some time to acclimatize. I'm originally from L.A. (Lower Alabama) and have driven flat out and run the high elevation trails before. The only issues I recall are being slightly winded at elevation and having headaches. Be sure to stay hydrated and that will help with the headaches. You are not likely to notice any issues with a computer controlled vehicle.

Does anyone have the Shadow of the Rockies track so we can see which high elevation passes it takes?