On Sunday, the Flatlanders Jeep Club had a quick meeting to discuss the progress on an upcoming club event. After that was out of the way we headed out for Tuttle Creek ORV for an afternoon on trail riding and clean up. We made it to the ORV much earlier than normal by 12:30. The small group included Fireball (red CJ-5), 2 TJs (Bob and Doug), David Givens from the Jeep-L (CJ-7 with 35"... not 33", 35" BFG muds), a SOA YJ with 3" lift springs putting it into Buddy's altitude (had a simple way to stop spring wrap, used a metal rod outside of the spring packs attaching to the top of the axle and a bracket on the frame--I have pics I'll put on the web later--that worked. BTW, he had 38" swampers, D60s, and a 454 bored out to 468), John Miller of Off-Road Sportsman Challenge fame made it out with his CJ-7 (sans top), a stockish Scrambler, and my YJ.
In the park, Fireball took the lead, immediately heading for a hill I always end up being winched/pulled off (see trip reports from Feb and last Sept on Obi-Wan's page for pictures). However, we're going down it... potential embarrassment avoided. Stop, pick up trash, head for the mud flats, pick up more trash (including several UNopened cans on Keystone Light... someone must not have liked it). Left the flats for a quick loop through some trees. The fun part is a stream crossing (a whole 4" deep) then a collection of mud/water/more mud and a short, but steep climb. I've had problems on the climb before due to ATs not working to well in mud. A little (4, at the most 5000rpm) and I make it thru without problem. I then watch everybody behind me take the bypass (How come nobody pointed that out to me??). Little farther down we notice a strong gas smell...Fireball had a slightly leaking gas tank. Oh well let's move on. Hit another stream crossing and an even steeper climb out. Everybody gets out on the first try until Dave G. hits a snag. He's getting 3/4 of the way up before sliding down. His front tires aren't spinning so I figure he's pulling the old see how far I can get in 2wd before shifting to 4. Wrong... the front axle's spinning. He gets out with liberal application of the 401. Gather around and try to figure out what's wrong. Finally give up as it appears to be in the diff and move out. Meet up with the rest of the group to put out a campfire and watch Fireball show off in front of some fullsizes and a Blazer.
Picked up an unopened bottle of Bud there. Fireball takes the lead and goes to another hill I've had the honor to be winched off.
Dave: "How many hills do you have out here?"
Me: "Quite a few...hey Jim when you get to the top will you start running out the winch cable."
Make it up (much easier when dry) and spot Doug up a couple ledges farther along. He spots me... grind, bang, bump... "you missed it by that much" (couple inches)... back up try again... bang... gas... over. Go back and check out the now rounded ledges to watch John idle up, then nearly get run over by Dave who decided that the long skinny pedal is better than a spotter. The rest of the group takes a different trail and we meet back up with them at some more ledges. Doug tries one route not covered by snow and with only a small bump, but very greased over. He attempts the crawl technic and doesn't make it so he leaves. My turn... follow the ruts until clear of a big rock on the passenger side... cut right to get to firm (not slick) ground and use Dave's method of 4 wheeling (RPM! RPM!). He follows suit. Follow an easy trail for a while, just cruising along until we hit Driveshaft (normally a very tough obstacle)... somebody's taken rocks off the hill so I idled up it. Head down a different slope as the normal side is covered in snow.
Went around to a little traveled (by us) area of the ORV. Find two ruts heading into a bigger mud pit. Doug: "There's some mud for you Nick"... I'm thinking about it... I'd better let somebody else go through first to see how deep it is (there are Jeep eating holes around here). Dave takes the challenge... drops in the ruts and uses the 401 to get through. He hung left in the pit, a very good move as it dropped off quickly towards the right. I can make that...it wasn't that deep on him (about the turn signals)... he's got 33" and 5" of lift. I've got 3" and 32"....head in with lots of gas (ATs and mud don't mix). Big splash and I'm out. Hey that wasn't that deep. Smoke under hood (not the radiator...) just water steaming off. Hey there's a lot of mud under here. The CJ behind me comes up "You know how deep that was?"
"I'd guess about the headlights."
"Yup, look at all that mud under hood, I'm surprised it wasn't over the top"
[Note: I've since had a chance to slightly clean the Jeep--$10, still need another $20K to buy a TJ as this one will never be clean again--thank god for the K&N. It had the air box filled to within 2" of the filter and nothing got through]
Went to play on a couple of very steep slick inclines. I got second crack at one. Just needed a few more lugs to get up. Backed up to try the RPM approach... BANG (and the Jeep shakes)... look behind me... damn tree... look to the side... people laughing... gas it... slide down... try again... slide down... try again... slide down... give up and try another way... I'm up. Watch others try the side I couldn't make. Only the 2 TJs made it... nobody else. That didn't stop Dave from trying it (in 2wd)...doesn't make it so he backs up (dodging the tree) and goes at it. 1/2 up he slips hits a dead tree with the bumper, knocks it down (firewood) and almost goes sideways... takes another path and is up. We head out the same way we came in... up my hill... first time I've ever made it under my own power... wow. Headed to go get something to eat.
The Hard Luck Trophy went to Dave Givens this month for a non-working front diff and the harvesting of a dead tree out of season.
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