Matt was selling his Jeep and wanted to make a farewell run to Tuttle Creek to pass the torch to the new owner. A small group of Lincoln Wrangler owners accompanied him for a weekend of camping and wheeling.
Since my Wagoneer had finally racked up 500 miles after the engine rebuild, I decided that this would be a good time to test it out on the highway, so I flat towed my YJ down behind it. I was impressed with the power that the 401 had. There are some hills along that route south of Marysville, KS, on which my YJ’s 2.5L 4-cyl can’t even maintain the speed limit. The Wagoneer, with a combined vehicle weight of 8000 lbs, had no trouble accelerating up those hills. I think I’m gonna like this!
- Red YJ w/aux lights & black top: Matt Hickey and Zack Duncan, the new owner
- Blue TJ: Ethan Joy and Adam
- Red YJ w/grey top: Dustin Morgan
- White TJ: Bob & Sheridan Morgan, Dusty’s dad & sister
- Black YJ & mini ATV: Ben (me) & Micah Hollingsworth
Like father, like son. Micah played in the campground while we setup camp.
Dusty had problems with his new radiator fan. After a bit of diagnosis by Matt, we decided that the fan itself was bad (we were wrong). Dusty looks way too happy about his engine problems.
The next morning, the Morgans ran down to Manhattan and replaced the fan at O’Reilly’s. We drove from the campground to the ORV park, and realized that it still wasn’t working. Micah & Sheridan played in the rocks while Matt diagnosed it as a corroded battery terminal that wasn’t allowing sufficient power to get to the fan.
By 11:30am, we finally made it onto the trails while Bob & Dusty ran
to the gas station in Randolph to buy a new battery side post terminal. It’s unbelievable what all that little gas station stocks. We hit Hard Luck Hill, then played down by Scrambler Creek. Neither Ethan nor I made it up that hill out of the creek.
Next we went up to the plateau by the ledges. Ethan couldn’t make it up the hardest route onto the plateau, but my larger tires and LSD made short work of it. Dusty, Bob, Zack, and Ethan took a more sensible route to the top.
On the way back to the campground for lunch, we went down by the lake and went under the bridge for the scenic route back to the campground. I’ve never seen the lake this low in the five years I’ve been wheeling there. The trail drops off some steep dirt embankments and then skirts along the edge of where the lake usually is, which was covered with loose rock and driftwood. One section of larger rocks and driftwood gave some of the Jeeps some trouble, but we all made it through unscathed.
After lunch, we headed over to the northwest corner of the park. There are three separate paths down a ledge there. Bob and Zack went down the north path, which is the easiest. Dusty went down the south path (avoiding the camera), and Ethan and I went down the middle path, which is probably the hardest. Coming down was too easy (isn’t it always), so I decided to turn around and go back up the same route. Just as I was approaching the rock, a group of 8-10 kids in two vehicles drove up and decided to watch. Great, an audience. I tried several slight variations on what what obviously the best line, but never quite got enough traction to climb my rear wheels over the ledge. Curiously, this same weekend last year at Timber Ridge I also got hung up with my front left tire in the air. The crowd was duly impressed.
From there, we went to Arp Hill. The lower section (before the ledges) was in the worst shape I’d ever seen it. We spent a while getting Ethan and Matt (even with his spool and mud tires) guided up the correct lines. I paid close attention to the problem areas, and by applying a little more throttle and weaving my way up the proper lines, I managed to make it up on the first attempt. The bouncing woke up Micah, who had just fallen asleep minutes before.
On our way out of the park, we ran into the kids who watched me try to climb the ledge earlier. They’d gotten their Bronco stuck in the mud, and broke their tow strap trying to extract it with a Cherokee. Ethan loaned them his strap, but when he saw them start to hook it up to the hitch ball on the Cherokee, he quickly offered to pull the Bronco out himself instead.
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