Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Wheeling For The Wounded

September 19, 2015
A Hired Gun Offroad Event

Chad, co-owner of Hired Gun Offroad, invited me to go wheeling with his crew at disney.  My Blazer had been sitting at his house getting repair work done and i was definitely itching to go.  I posted an event on our 138Modified Facebook page and was able to get my good friend Mark and his wife to join in.  It all started on the morning of saturday, September 19th. 

I showed up at Chads with my bosses gooseneck, ready to go.  Unfortunately when I arrived the Blazer wasn't quite ready for action.  The rear tire was flat as a pancake, and when I tried to start it, the starter broke.  luckily, Chad was willing to drive me to the nearest town to buy a new starter. With a new starter, some of Chads slime and air in the the tire, I loaded up, and away we went.

Once at Disney, I met up with Mark and his wife and then a bit later Chad and Eric D.   We crossed the water and headed up to the ridge.  Right off the bat they had me squeezing threw tight trees.  The first hill climb ended with me having to go around a pinch point, which I hate doing.   We followed some trails and ended up on the power line.  At this point Chad gave me the lead and asked me to direct us back to the main trail.  I did so by going down the most direct route I could think of, which has a steep drop at the end.   After we were all down, I mentioned to Chad that I had tried 2 years in a row to go up the first part of the hill, but couldn't make it.

Eric D. coming down from powerline

Chad waited for Eric to get to the bottom and then showed me how to go up the hill like a boss.  This was pretty sweet, because now I know It's not impossible,  This trail is definitely on my list of trails to conquer.  We then headed towards 3 fingers, a trail with 3 hard paths going to the same spot on top of a hill.  I made it 95% of the way up it my first year at BMR but got hung up on my rear diff at the last moment.  

Walter @ 3 Fingers
When we arrived at 3 Fingers the rest of the HGO crew was there.  I didn't know anyone else so I just hung back and tried to listen to what was going on.  While there several people went up the trail, including Walter in his Jeep and Chad in his Cherokee.  While talking with the guys I made the comment that I didn't think my truck could climb it.  That's when David, the other co-owner of HGO, started telling me I could.  He had a way of explaining the method of getting it done that seemed to fill me with confidence, so i decided to give it a shot.  I was able to get my tires over the top, but with my being small and bald, I just couldn't get it done.  I was a bit bummed, as I didn't want to be the joker that wasn't able to hang with the other rigs. 

Myself lining up @ 3 Fingers
Once the crew were done there we all convoyed to another trail that I had found earlier in the year during the BMR.  Its starts with some ledges, then turns into a steep valley hillclimb, which ends with a good sized ledge and powdery dirt.  When my turn came to go over the ledge at the end of the trail, I couldn't get the rig to do it.  I was the first to back down, to the easier by pass, making Mark and Eric D. back up as well.  Luckily I was the only one that had problems as all three of us failed the test and used the by pass. 

Myself & Mark waiting our turns

Eric D. by passing the ledge
The by pass was a bit tough for me. It was soft powdery dirt and it seemed like I really had to give it the throttle to make it.  I'd like to think that i cut the trail and that's why the other two made it so easily after me.  Once at the top I realized the Blazer was running hot, so I told the crew to continue on and I would catch up.  I took a break, drank a beer and then added some coolant.

Over heated in the woods

Once the truck was cool enough I started back towards where I though they were.  I had no idea and eventually called Chad to find out they were at the trailers.  I hauled ass and finally caught them.  From there we drove to the hamburger shop and ate some lunch.  Disney, Oklahoma is unique in that they allow non registered off road vehicles to drive on the side streets and along the side of the main road in town.  This make it handy to buy gas, food or any other provision you might need.  

Grabbing lunch in town
While I ate, I got a chance to talk to David one on one.  I told him that I tried the waterfall the first year at BMR but couldn't make it the top.  I also told him that I wanted to see Little Blue, as I had no clue where it was.  David is the driver of the Hired Gun Offroad Ultra 4 car that he races at King of the Hammers.  He talked a little about line theory, and how sometimes you need to roll into a ledge with some speed and then throttle over it.  As I listened to him explain it, in the back of my head I kept thinking that it goes against my driving style.  I typically try to crawl and throttle is a last ditch method that leads to catastrophic breakage.  I also told him that I wanted to start taking more pictures, but needed some organization and help so i could have time to do so.  Funny how saying something to the right person can yield results.  
After eating we headed to the waterfall area.  Since we came to it from the top side, we all took turns going down it.  this was my first time and it was wild.  from the top it felt like a monster drop off and can be a bit intimidating for a noob.  Once on the bottom, David yelled to me to get my camera out.  One by one everyone took turns going up the waterfall on the right side.  

Eric C @ Waterfall
David @ Waterfall
Walter @ Waterfall
Chad @ Waterfall
After everyone had a turn David told me it was my turn.  I would be lying if I said that I wasn't nervous.  There was a pretty decent amount of spectators watching and I had two strikes against me for the day.  Luckily I knew the line.  I had watch my friend Donnie climb it in 2013.  My attempt that year was a fail, and it weighed heavy in my mind.  I stowed the camera gear and started positioning myself for a run at it.  For my pig to climb it, I had to get the rig as perpendicular to the wall as possible.  David was behind me, on the topside of the wall giving me commands.  
To climb it, I had to start by aiming straight (to the left of) and hold that line until the back tires catch, at which time the whole truck will turn on its own and climb out.  Awesome theory on paper, but getting past the rock that loves my rocker panels was a trick.  I think it took me two tries to get the correct beginning line.  I remember david telling me to keep steering straight (up a crazy wall) and to give it gas until the rear tires hit then stand on it.  I tried a few times, harder each time.  Finally, on the last try I stood on it enough that it took ahold, made a right turn and started hopping.  I let off and crawled out.  Done.   I pretty much owe it to David, because if he wouldn't have told me it was my turn, I wouldn't have tried. Instead, I was the guy that made it and a small crowd was cheering my victory with me.  I was a demi-god for about 15 seconds, and loved it.  

Jimbo @ Waterfall

After driving back down to gather with the rest of the crew, one of them noticed that my back bumper had been ripped from the frame on the drivers side.  One of the guys helped me out by ripping it the rest of the way off.  I loaded it up and drove back the trailer to store it.  While I was en route I met up with Mark, who had taken a long lunch and was just getting back.  I met up with the gang at Cialis about 30 mins later.   I pretty much missed the happenings at Viagra & Cialis.  From there we cruised over to Little Blue.

Little Blue
little Blue is an awesome obstacle.  As I watched those in front of me, I saw right off the bat that having wet tires caused problems.  I kept tight to the dry side, and climbed the first ledge.  Once past the initial step, it opens up a bit and funnels into a V-notch.  This notch then turns 90 degrees to the right, as the left side turns into a wall.  I straddled the notch pretty good, and dropped in just in time as the crack then made another 90 degree turn to the left, going up a good sized ledge.  My drivers side tire climbed the ledge easily but then the other tire wouldn't grab, and instead slid the length of the ledge.  Once you run out of room my truck would start to lift on the front drivers side.  OK, time to back up and try again.  David was behind me and when I told him I needed to back up he reminded me of the crowd that was watching me.  I also remembered at lunch when he told me that the key was to turn as soon as possible and not to give up at the end.  So after all but putting it on its side, I tried again.  This time I steered into the turn at the wall, before the ledge was there.  By the time my tire had climbed it I was at the ledge, again the truck slid to the end, and I have no clue what was different, but this time I was able to power up it.  I got another small cheer from the crowd and again I felt like a stud.  

Mark & Eric D. @ Little Blue
Eric D. @ little Blue
We then trekked a bit farther to the Wailing Wall.  I asked the crew and was told I shouldn't try this one, and since I was on top of my game, I was very content to take pictures.  The Wailing Wall is a steep wall like chunk of rock with a standing pool of water at the bottom.  The guys joked about who could make it in one try, by it wasn't gonna happen on that day.
Chad was the first.  He gets the "Go Hard or Go Home" award.  This guy flogged the hell out of it. He was able to get the front end up, and then he would back up as far as he could, then gas it.  This method kept popping his front wheels up and he would lose momentum.  All the wheelie action ended up scaring his navigator, and while he swapped out riders, Eric C. upped the ante.

Chad @ Wailing Wall. Good size reference.
The climb that sticks out in my mind was by Eric C.  He made it in two tries, if i recall correctly.  He seemed to have the good line.  Once his front tires were up, he steered to his right, found some grip and climbed it.  made it look easy. 

Eric C. @ Wailing Wall
By the time Eric C was on top of the wall, Chad had a new passenger and was ready to make up for lost time.  Once again he was back to his old tricks.  He would goose it, do a wheelie and come down like a jackhammer.  Hindsight tells us that this was a bad thing, but in the heat of battle, he was going to go down swinging.  Ultimately the beating took its toll as his rig was pulverized. 

Chad's 2nd try @ Wailing Wall
Every Time Chad did his jackhammer stunt, he was landing on his front link mounts.  After he gave in to the Wall, he found his mounts to be destroyed.  They had bent, causing his front axle to rotate and top load his pinion.  When I realized that his rig was damaged, I left my post on top of the wall, to rubberneck at the Cherokee.  It was pretty, bad. 

Chad, Destroying shit like a boss
While I was talking to Chad, and gawking at his carnage, David was climbing the Wall. I don't remember how he did, and I am grateful that Mark took a picture while I was AWOL.

David @ Wailing Wall
I did manage to watch Eric D. climb the wall on the right side.  His line got a bit sketchy towards the end but he pulled it off.  I was actually quite impressed with his run.  Once Chad Had removed his driveshaft he started to drive it back to the trailer.  We all convoyed back together.
This was pretty much the end of the trip, and I can honestly say that I had the time of my life.  I was 2 out of 4 but the two I did were awesome.  

I would like to thank Mark for supporting the 138 for the second time in a row.  Your a great friend and I hope you continue to keep wheeling with us.   
I also want to thank the crew of Hired Gun Offroad for letting me tag along, coaching me threw and being super cool cats.  

As a final thought, I would like for you to watch my stop motion video of Eric C. on the wailing Wall.  I used rapid shots and was able to string a series of shots together on his climb.

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