Mid July Wheeling
July 18, 2015
It started out as any other well planned event. Everyone was given over a month to prepare. In the end, only two rigs decided to brave the heat. On this day the temperature was over 100 and there was very little breeze. It was a great day, but blistering hot. this is how it all went down...
I was second rig to arrive at the park, with Mark being the fourth. Threw out the day there were at best only 12 rigs there in total. My Blazer being the only non Jeep of the crowd.
The first thing I noticed about this park was the tight trails lined with rocks and trees.
the above picture was taken at the Rusty Bucket trail, from Marks Jeeps. The tight turns kept my hydro-assist churning and the welded front made me do a lot of 3 point turns.
Since mark had home court advantage, I was more than happy to let him trail guide. My co-pilot for this trip had been here once in the past, but only as a passenger.
We wiggled threw a bunch of the easy trails, as i got used to my truck. Soon I was getting my roll bar mounted cam ready for some eventual footage.
We climbed Donnie's V-Notch and as we were swinging around back to the main loop I noticed my motor was hot. We had to take a break and let it cool down enough for me to add coolant. The day was already ridiculously hot and never got any cooler. As soon as the Blazer was cool enough we were back on the trails. We swung around and headed to my favorite trail of the day, Red & yellow Tree Trail.
As we pulled into position, I noticed the sign had a black diamond, This would be my first try at an expert trail. As Mark crawled up the slope I pulled up and parked in the staging area.
The farther up the slope you go, the nastier it seems. I was able to watch mark and set a line for myself. I couldn,t really say either one of us made it look easy. His tires being bigger were a benefit, were my longer wheelbase helped me.
Once you climb the slope there are a few ways out. Mark chose the right, which exits next to a rocky outcrop that resembles a can opener. His rig pretty much owned it.
Marks big 40" tires helped him finish out like a boss.
Then it was my turn.
At some point my front passenger hub came unlocked, causing me to dig myself into a hole. Luckily Mark saw that the tire wasn't spinning and kept me from looking too much like a chump. Once locked in, the truck had no issues getting over the downed tree that is basically the start.
At some point during this climb my passenger hood hinge snapped in two.
The propane power is a dream, I am still in honeymoon phase with the fact that i can climb without fear of stalling.
As I got to the top I wanted to follow Marks line. To do that I had to get intimate with the can opener like rock, which ultimately caved in my rocker to a small degree. My rear diff kept hanging up on a rock and I finally had to go right instead of left to exit. I still call it a win, and feel it was a just battle. At the bottom of the page there are two videos of this climb.
Later we ended up at a trail called Bear Tracks. This was the most exciting as we had a bit of reservation upon entering. Mark & I discussed it and he went for it. I will let the pictures tell the tale. Mark absolutely made this trail his bitch. Before he made his run, I walked over to the far side to get the pictures. In doing so, I sunk to my shin in marshy muck mud, The pictures turned out good, so it was a good trade.
|Past the hard, into the soft|
|Made it to the closest dry land|
This is the where we had planned for him to stop, that way if I got stuck, he would have dry to pull from. Good plan as my line got sideways quick.
Right from the start there was a deep tire rut. I first tried to go threw it, my ass end sank and the bed rubbed the bank against a root ball. I backed out and tried with more power. Same, I tried to straddle it, having my ass end slide back down into the same spot at the root ball. I tried again. Same.
I tried going high side, only to have the trucks ass end slide into the groove. Each time i tried my rig got a little closer to being stuck in a stupid fashion. Finally, it happened. While trying to back out of a fail, i wedged the truck into the bank behind me. I was done. Time to call in the calvary.
From here, we stretched 3 straps together with clevis' and Mark was able to pull my rig straight into the rut, where I could back out and to dry land. This was the only trail I couldn't complete.
I had to give mark serious props for getting threw.
After eating a nice lunch under the pavilion, we headed back out for some more trails. The above picture was taken on the Bent Tree Trail. We soon found ourselves at a trail called the Pick Up Pinch. This was considered an expert trail, as there are some steep elements, as well as rocky shelves to negotiate.
After watching Mark struggle going up this trail my co-pilot asked if i was going to attempt it. I told her I wasn't sure, but when mark made it, the decision was made for me. When she realized i was going to give a shot, she told me she was going to walk this one. (LOL)
I pulled up to the line and climbed it with no issues, actually beating her to the top. In the picture above you can see the rocker damage caused by the Red & yellow Tree trail. Right after this picture was taken Mark asked me what the smoke was coming from under the hood. I popped the hood (no easy feat with a broken hinge) and to my dismay we found my battery laying sideways on my exhaust manifold. By the time I was able to move it, the damage was done. I had a melted hole in the battery. A quick trail fix later and we were on our way.
We tooled around for another hour or two and then without knowing it, we climbed our last hill. Burgoons Black Snake Trail. A semi-nasty affair. This was another trail that gave Mark a bit of trouble, and that I made look easy. The only thing I can think is that it must have to do with my wheel base, because marks jeep is every bit as nasty as mine, but has bigger tires. Either way, I smarted off to him at the top and as soon as I did karma kicked me in the butt. I turned off the engine and heard a hiss of what we thought was air leaking. It ended up being a leak at the bulkhead of my fuel line. Not cool. While probing it, the line shot off the fitting like a .45 and I about soiled my drawers. I ended up spending about two hours fixing it. luckily the ladies were cool with it. By the time we were done, we were pretty much done, so we called it a day.
When we got back to the tow rigs, we found out we were the last two rigs in the park..
Thats 138Modified style.
Come early, Stay late.
Special thanks to Mark & his wife for showing up and being all around good people to hang out with.