For the first time since September 1997, we finally had a gorgeous, sunny day for our club meeting. People responded accordingly, and the dealership was packed for the meeting. The primary topic of discussion was the upcoming 4×4 event that the club is sponsoring on Saturday, 2 May 1998. It begins at 9:00am and is open to any make of 4×4, not just Jeeps. Registration for non-members is $25, and will get them a cook-out lunch and a full day of organized trail rides.
No less than 25 Jeeps came out to the ORV area for the trail ride. We took advantage of the good weather and turnout to get a few club photos in the staging area. We then split the group into two before heading out into the wilds. Needless to say, the easy group, lead by SuperDoug Knox, was the larger of the two.
When we arrived at the entrance to the ORV area, we found that it had been torn up so badly that the mud hole that guards it covered almost the entire entrance. We took the alternate route in by going up the hill another hundred feet or so. When will these idiots learn that recklessly tearing up public lands is a sure way to get them closed off the the public? That’s one reason I have links to Tread Lightly! plastered all over this site. Responsible, low-impact wheeling is the only way to ensure continued access to public lands. OK, I feel better after ranting a bit.
Just as we were leaving the staging area, a plea for help came across the CB. A CJ-7 had one tire with only 2 psi, thanks to a defective pressure gauge. I (Obi-Wan) was apparently the only one with a high-volume compressor, so my York got to take part in its first rescue mission. Two minutes later, we were both back on the trail.
The easy, mostly-stock group headed out along the same path we’d followed the past couple months. The relatively warm weather made the ground a bit muddy, but posed no serious problems to anybody. Several of the mildly-built rigs in our group tried to take the harder routes through some areas, but the slippery traction wouldn’t permit it.
One of the obstacles we hit was a muddy, rocky ditch three feet deep and ten feet across, with a sharp left turn immediately at the top. The rocky bottom encouraged you to go slow to prevent banging your front shackles, but the slicker-than-snot mud leading down into the ditch prevented any kind of speed control. Only those with several inches of lift were able to keep their shackles from kissing the rocks. The inevitable speed was a mixed blessing, since good momentum was required to make it up and out over the other muddy bank.
Another obstacle we don’t usually hit was a stream crossing. The in-going bank was five feet above the water, with a steep, muddy path leading in. The stream bed and lower banks contained some of the deepest mud we were forced to cross that day. The out-going bank was just as tall, but only half as steep. Many drivers, including me, misjudged just how muddy the crossing was, and had to back across the stream and part way up the near bank to make a second run at the far bank.
Things were pretty uneventful through most of the day, until we passed Driveshaft Hill and some of the group decided to give it a try. Doug Knox, Tom Corbett, Nick Falcetto, and Jim Arp all made it up without getting stuck or breaking anything, thanks to liberal application of the long skinny pedal. Driveshaft is deceptively hard, and was named for its tendency to eat driveshafts. These photos don’t quite show all the ruts and small ledges on this steep trail. The heavily-built half of our group met up with us there, and we all stopped to watch those four show off. A CJ in the other group was over heating (steaming, even), so while we were waiting, we scrounged enough water from other members to refill his radiator and get him back down to a safe operating temperature.
While we were all lined up there along the dry side of the trail, a couple full-size pickups and blazers passed us going the other direction. One of them nearly got stuck in the mud right in front of us, probably because of the smoking hub on his right front wheel. The shocking thing about these guys is that three of them were standing up in the bed of one rig holding onto the roll bar. Talk about dangerous! If that truck had suddenly dropped one side into a deep rut, all three of them would have been thrown clear of the rig and likely run over. In Doug’s words, it would have been a terrible waste of a combined IQ of 120. Deaths due to dangerous stupidity are another good way to get the ORV closed to the public.
Anyway, after everyone made it safely back down Driveshaft, we split up again and headed back to the staging area. Nick, Jim Arp, and some others decided to go up the narrow trail that they’d cleared last summer (the same one on which Nick broke his U-joint in September). Nobody broke anything this time, but for the third time in six months (twice on this trail), Nick got stuck and backed himself up against a tree. The trail was therefor dubbed “Falcetto Lane.”
Nick feared that mishap would net him the Hard Luck Trophy, but Brian “Red Rocker” Baker apparently decided it was his turn again. He managed to break his drag link in two…again. He disconnected it, and, after the trophy presentation, bummed a ride into Manhattan to get it re-welded. An hour or so later, his monster Jeep rolled into Riley under its own power.
The sunset that night was even better than this just 60 seconds earlier.
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